Last week Amulya Somashekhar, her mother Asha and a friend were charged for allegedly assaulting a Banaswadi traffic police inspector. Asha Somasekhar is a volunteer with the Bangalore chapter of India Against Corruption (IAC). Two days later, the case took a new turn with IAC getting involved in the issue. IAC, as readers will know is the organising group behind the Anna Hazare-led movement for the Jan Lokpal bill.
Intervening in the matter, IAC representatives met the Additional Comissioner of Police Suneel Kumar (IPS) and gave the police department a petition for the constitution of a Police Complaints Authority. "IAC makes no claim about the truth of the matter. However, we are keen that the review of such cases, to determine the truth, should be carried out in an objective way, with both disputing parties having their say before an independent authority", says IAC. Media had also reported Amulya’s claim that the officer had assaulted her because she refused to comply with a demand for a bribe.
IAC’s position is that departmental review of the incident (either by the police themselves or by the Home Department) would not be sufficient. "The correct process for reviewing complaints from the public against serving police officers was laid down by the Supreme Court some years ago, and it is this procedure that should be adopted", it says.
Meanwhile Amulya and her family had switched off their phones and were unavailable for comment on the weekend. A sources close to them said the family had gone into hiding fearing arrest, despite Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji’s reported assurance that no arrests would be made.
In its intervention with the city’s police department, IAC has referred to a 2006 ruling of the Supreme Court:
"Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct."
Last year, Karnataka earned the tag of being one of four states censured by the Supreme Court for non-compliance with its directives on police reforms, notes the IAC.
Speaking to Citizen Matters over the telephone, ACP Suneel Kumar acknowledges that he received the IAC petition on behalf of Commissioner Mirji. However, he points out that is the state government’s job to create a PCA. "That is upto to the state government to do and cannot be done by the police department itself", he says. However, "I support the setting up of a PCA for Karnataka as a police official", he added.