New Delhi

The High Court of Allahabad, in a recent judgment, made critical observations on the nexus between criminals, politicians and the police, and said that the police must reform its working or else things would go out of control. It directed the chief secretary and principal secretary (home) of the state to initiate steps so that the policing inspires public confidence, and asked them to give a report within six months on the action taken.

The Bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Shashi Kant made the observations while disposing of the petition of a woman from Saharanpur. It was alleged that on August 18, 2014, while the petitioner was on her way to the market along with her daughter, the girl was abducted by five persons, known as Ehsan, Irfan, Yunus, Aurangzeb and Farman, and sexually assaulted repeatedly. The girl later lodged a complaint with the police, but no action was taken against the accused because they had political protection.

Such a nexus is assuming menacing proportions with every passing year. As far back as 1993, the Vohra Committee had, on the basis of evidence furnished by the director, Intelligence Bureau (IB), said that “the mafia is virtually running a parallel government, pushing the state apparatus into irrelevance”. The IB director had submitted that there was “a rapid spread and growth of criminal gangs, armed senas, drug mafias, smuggling gangs, drug peddlers and economic lobbies in the country which have, over the years, developed an extensive network of contacts with bureaucrats/government functionaries at the local level, politicians, media persons and strategically located individuals in the non-state sector”. Some of these syndicates, it was added, even had international links. The report went to say that “in certain states like Bihar, Haryana and UP, these gangs enjoyed the patronage of local-level politicians, cutting across party line and the protection of government functionaries”.

The Vohra Committee Report caused a commotion in Parliament, but unfortunately there was no effective follow-up action. The situation has since worsened and the malaise has spread to several other states.

In 2006, the Allahabad High Court, while disposing of a writ petition in Karan Singh Vs. State of UP and Others, constituted a committee to advise the court on measures needed to check the criminalisation of politics and ensure that investigation and trial of criminal cases against public representatives was conducted fairly and expeditiously, and for suggesting ways and means to insulate the administration and the police from extraneous pressure. The author was chairman of the three-member committee which comprised a serving IAS and IPS officer each. Several recommendations were made, but unfortunately due to the apathy and indifference of the state government, no action was taken on the panel’s suggestions.

And so, the nexus continues to grow stronger. To break this unholy alliance, two steps are absolutely necessary. Firstly, electoral reforms must be undertaken so as to ensure that the criminals—at least the hard-core variety—are debarred from the democratic process. According to the Association of Democratic Reforms, 30 per cent ministers in the government of India have, in their affidavits, admitted criminal cases against themselves. Of these, 18 per cent have serious criminal cases including attempt to murder, communal disharmony and kidnapping. The picture in the state Assemblies is worse. With persons of questionable background having infiltrated the Assemblies/Parliament and even occupied ministerial positions, it is obvious that any effort to break the nexus would be vehemently opposed by those in power. As a matter of fact, Parliament has stopped talking of the nexus, let alone the need to break it.

Secondly, it is also necessary to insulate the police from extraneous pressures. The Supreme Court gave a historic judgment on September 22, 2006, for radical reforms in the police. Its directions included setting up a State Security Commission in each state with a view to insulating the police. The security commissions have been set up but in violation of the letter and spirit of court’s directions. As a consequence, these are toothless bodies.

The nexus has grown into a Frankenstein monster. It must be destroyed before it devours our democratic structure.

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