Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Policemen turn into state sponsored offenders

In a shocking crime, but which no longer seems unlikely, 2 policemen took a person into custody, and then offered to help him get bail if he paid a bribe of Rs. 50,000. View article.
The case is simple, a person, not otherwise seemingly involved in some crime introduced 2 people for a business transaction. The deal went sour, and this guy was also named in a cheating case. The police caught him, and sent him to jail. Cases of cheating were filed against him. So far, this is normally what can happen.
What happened next reveals the need for action to ethically clean and indoctrinate police personnel. The investigating officer promised to help him get bail if he was given Rs. 50,000 by the accused. If not paid, the investigating officer would file many more such cases against the accused He paid the money in one installment of Rs. 25,000, and then contacted the anti-corruption bureau, who caught the corrupt cops as the final installment of Rs. 25,000 was being paid.
This kind of case and variants of it cause dread in the citizens of this country. One can only wonder how many such cases must be happening around the country where a policeman or other babu misuses his authority for personal gain. There is a critical need for police reform, and
make the police force more independent from the network of politicians that it has got under. How are politicians involved in this ? Well, from what I have read, it seems that the whole concept of transfers and postings of officials (including the police) revolves around some sort of payment and gratification system. Once such a thing happens, a policeman who has paid money to reach a specific post will want to recoup his investment. Simple business.
In addition, there is the question of peer pressure. If a policeman sees his colleagues make money and have a good life without much fear of being caught AND prosecuted, then it is more
likely that he will also want to copy this lifestyle. For this reason, it is necessary to make sure that caught offenders are quickly convicted and stripped of their rights to be a beast in uniform.
The Government and the courts should also try to figure out the dual objective of how to ensure that policemen get paid adequately that they do feel opressed financially, and at the same time, there needs to be inculcated the feeling of ensuring that the police folks develop an attitude that even though they represent the majesty of the law, they are in fact custodians of the public.
What can a normal citizen do ? A normal citizen, seeing the state of the police folks, would want nothing better than to not get involved in any proceedings that involve the police. If indeed they face a situation similar to the person in this story, they would most likely pay up quickly so as to get out of the situation quickly. It is a brave citizen who would take the ethically right path of reporting such deviant behaviour. If more citizens act like this, it will scare such bribe takers as they would not be sure in which scenario they could get caught.
The media has a big role to play. The Indian media is seen as sensation hungry and out to get maximum readership/viewership. This can work to the advantage of the country if the media, using their access to more and more stealth ways of finding out such cases of corruption, are able to expose more and more cases. The key to fighting corruption, in addition to the normal method of trying to inculcate a sense of ethics, is to ensure that cases proceed quickly, and that there is so much fear of disclosure that a bribe taker will think twice before trying to take a bribe.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:46 PM