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Uttarakhand High Court directs state Chief Secretary to file status report on establishment of police stations in rural areas

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The Uttarakhand High Court has directed  the State Chief Secretary to file a personal affidavit, disclosing what steps have been taken regarding establishment of police stations in all rural areas of the hill state.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe ruled that in case no steps have been taken till now, the state government was directed to forthwith take steps to establish a trained police force throughout the state.


The order was passed on a petition seeking implementation of the directions issued by the High Court in its January 12, 2018 verdict in Criminal Appeal No 100 of 2013, (Sunder Lal vs State) to establish police stations in all rural areas of the state and abolish the revenue police system.

The directions issued by the High Court in the said case are as follows:-


“103. However, before parting with the judgment, more than a century old practice of Revenue Police System/Policing in vogue in many parts of the State of Uttarakhand is ordered to be abolished within six months from today, in the meantime, the State Government shall put in place the Regular Police System as prevalent in the entire country.  

B. The State Government is also directed to open sufficient number of police stations as per Section 2(s) of Cr.P.C. read with Section 7 of the Uttarakhand Police Act, 2007 to strengthen policing by Regular Police within six months from today. 
C. The State Government is also directed to ensure that there are two Police Stations in each Circle headed by an Officer-in-charge, who shall not be below the rank of Sub-Inspector.

 
D. The registration of FIRs, investigation and putting up the challan etc. throughout the State of Uttarakhand shall also be done only by the regular police and not by the Patwaris after six months, strictly, as per the provisions of Cr.P.C. 

E. The State Government is also directed to open, if not already opened, police training institutions, as per Section 15 of the Act, 2007 including State Police Training Institutions, Police Training Schools, other training Institutions, including Police Academy for promoting the service culture among police officers and professional qualifications. 

F. The State Government is also directed to establish the Bureau of Police Research and Development for undertaking research into matters relating to police and crimes, as per Section 16 of the Act, 2007, within six months from today, in the entire State of Uttarakhand.”

Though the verdict was rendered and directions issued as early as on 12.01.2018, but even after expiry of four years, the State has not taken steps to implement the said directions.   

C.S. Rawat, who appeared for the respondent State, informed that a special leave petition has been preferred against the said verdict before the Supreme Court. However, he submitted that the operation of the directions has not been stayed by the Supreme Court.  

The Court noted that recently, there were news reports about how investigation into serious crimes has suffered on account of regular civil police force not being available throughout the state.   

It is observed by the Court that the State has also seen a surge in narcotic trade and consumption of narcotics. With passage of time, the serious crimes in the state, including sexual offences against women and children, are also seeing an upswing.  

The Court went on to observe, “The Archaic system of the revenue authorities acting as police officers must make way by establishment of a regular trained police force to maintain proper law and order in the state.”

The aforesaid judgement noted the fact that the revenue officers, including patwari, kanoongo, naib tehsildar and tehsildar, were not trained to function as Investigating Officers in serious criminal matters. They were also busy in discharging their duties in revenue matters.

In response to the query of the Court whether the revenue officers were sent to a police academy for training, Rawat said that this was not the position. 

As per the High Court, the law which empowered the revenue authorities to function as police officers, was an age-old law framed during the British regime, when the population and its density was very low in remote areas. The situation was different today. It was high time the state woke up to this reality and shed its inertia in implementing the directions issued by the High Court in Criminal Appeal No 100 of 2013.

Maintenance of law and order in the state is one of the prime responsibilities of the state government. The government of a state could not be seen to fail in discharge of that obligation, added the High Court.

It said, “We, therefore, direct the Chief Secretary of the State of Uttarakhand to file a personal affidavit, disclosing what steps have been taken till now to implement the directions issued by the Court in Criminal Appeal No 100 of 2013.”

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