CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday came down heavily on the State government for its reluctance to appoint a retired judge as chairperson of the Police Complaints Committee, as per the directions of the Supreme Court. “Are you (State government) afraid of appointing an independent person as the head of the Police Complaints Committee?
Why is the home secretary or DGP made the head of the committee? The Supreme Court is very clear that the head must be an independent person. Tomorrow, if there is a complaint against the DGP then who is going to hear the complaint? The DGP himself ?” the first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N Mala asked.
The bench said it would summon the home secretary to appear before the court if no action is taken. The additional advocate general initially sought time till June 14 to get instructions from the authorities concerned, but later told the court instructions would be obtained by Friday.
The bench pointed out that enough time had already been granted for the State to amend the Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Act to pave the way for appointment of retired judges to head the complaints committees at the State and district levels. The judges said they will set aside the constitution of the committee.
Panel part of police reforms
The matter came up after advocate Saravanan Dakshinamurthy and former IPS officer AG Mourya filed petitions insisting that State and districtlevel police complaints authorities be headed by retired judges and not the home secretary.
They wanted the court to declare provisions of the TN Police (Reforms) Act, under which the present police complaints authority is established, as unconstitutional and illegal. The Supreme Court had directed States to introduce appropriate legislations for police reforms, including constitution of an independent complaints committee.
It had made clear that such a committee shall comprise independent panel members nominated by the chief justice of the high court concerned and other members selected from among retired government officials and members of civil society.