Madras High Court issues ultimatum on abolishing ‘orderly’ system in Police Department – The Hindu

Chennai News

Court directs Home Secretary to act against higher police officials on complaints received from their subordinates

Court directs Home Secretary to act against higher police officials on complaints received from their subordinates

Expressing displeasure over the prevalence of the colonial ‘orderly’ system in the Police Department despite its abolition on paper in 1979, the Madras High Court on Monday fixed a deadline of three weeks for the Home Secretary to ensure that no serving or retired police officer in the State continued to use police personnel for household work.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam said the Home Secretary must initiate action under the All India Services (Conduct) Rules, 1968, against Indian Police Service (IPS) officers who do not surrender all their orderlies forthwith. The judge also gave liberty to the subordinate police personnel to lodge complaints against their higher-ups regarding misuse of authority.

“In the event of receiving any such complaint or information from the subordinate officials, the Home Secretary shall initiate immediate action against the officers concerned under the Conduct Rules,” he ordered, and granted time till August 12 for Additional Advocate General P. Kumaresan to revert and report further developments to the court.

The judge recalled that the State government had issued a Government Order (G.O.) on September 5, 1979, abolishing the ‘orderly’ system in the State. The G.O. was issued pursuant to a decision taken by the Centre at the Chief Ministers’ conference. Many other States, too, passed similar orders and ensured that they were implemented in letter and in spirit.

However, in Tamil Nadu alone, the G.O. remained only on paper for the last four decades, and police officers – both serving and retired – continued to use orderlies as per their whims and fancies, the judge lamented. “One policeman had written a letter to me, stating that a DIG-rank officer in Tirunelveli is using 39 orderlies for household work,” he told the AAG.

Stressing the need to take back all police personnel from the bungalows of top officials and use their services for the purpose of policing, the judge said the State government must learn a lesson from neighbouring countries and always keep the Police Department under its effective control, like it does with any other department.

He pointed out that the All India Service (Conduct) Rules specifically require the officers to refrain from doing anything which was or might be contrary to any law, rules, regulations and established practices. Therefore, the use of orderlies in violation of the 1979 G.O. would directly amount to misconduct, the judge added.

Justice Subramaniam also appreciated the government for having already issued circulars instructing higher police officials to surrender their orderlies, not use black sun film on official cars and not display ‘police’ stickers/boards on their private vehicles. Since a new Home Secretary had taken charge recently, the judge granted time to abolish the orderly system not only on paper but in practice, too.