Saturday, June 23, 2007

Police disposing of parts of vechicles lying in police station

To a large extent, we are somewhat immune now to what our policemen do, but it is only when things affect us personally do we realize how bad things can be, and how our law is not meant for our benefit. And the law in this case means the whole judicial system, not just the police force.
As an example, just refer to this report in the Times of India:

Walk into a police station in any part of Uttar Pradesh and you will be greeted by apprehended vehicles parked all over. These are in various stages of rusting and decay. A closer look would reveal that various parts of these two-wheelers and four-wheelers are missing. And there are tell-tale signs that these were removed after the vehicles were brought to the police station. The cops sell off these parts to make a fast buck.
Once a vehicle is apprehended by the cops in a serious crime, it is impossible to get them released. The seasoned criminals don't even try to get their vehicles back as this only strengthens their involvement in the crime. Moreover, most of these vehicles were lifted for committing the crime. Add to this the long legal battle and it would be ages before a vehicle can be released from the clutches of the cops.

And this is not a problem just with the police force, it is a problem with how our law is written and implemented. If the vehice is stolen and then found later, you are in serious trouble. There go your chances of getting the insurance money back so easily. For, by the time it is found, it would have been in a far worse condition than when it was stolen. Further, you will need to wait for the court case to get over, and unless you are able to convince (with some greenery) the cops, the vehicle will rust in the police station. This is an absolute perversion of the law, and very very unfriendly.
The legal system should be such that cases are heard quickly, and then disposed off fast. However, India's legal system is stuck in a time warp, with most cases taking many years to dispose off. And policemen, as in the case above, taking full use of the system. So, your vehicle, lying in the police compound will bear the brunt of the elements without any care, till things start to rust and items start to get stolen.
The police stations are supposed to auction unclaimed vehicles on a regular basis, but since auction will not get money in the hands of the police personnel, it is not something that is implemented. Far better to leave the vehicle in the police station, ready to dissemble and sell off piece by piece. In fact, most police officers were not able to remember the last time an auction was held.
How can this ever be resolved? This is part of the practise where the police force is not accountable to anyone, and a law unto themselves. A measure to make the police force accountable is stuck because politicians do not want the police to be accountable to anyone other than politicians. How does one resolve such issues of national interest when it is clear that the government is not able to do so?

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 11:44 PM