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Call to Duty – Where has it gone?

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By DEVESH PANT

This is a call to the IPS to apply its own mind to “Actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea” (Ordinarily speaking, a crime is not committed if the mind of the person doing the act in question be innocent) to improve Policing. Each time something outrageous happens, the evasiveness that sets in is even more shocking. So, now, we must have it that there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the Policing or with the general administration or the political system or even the lack of a culture respecting morality and ethical behaviour but it is the laws that are at fault – that it is the IPC and the CrPC that need tinkering with. A bad workman blames the tool sums it all up. The profound cause of outrageous Criminal acts is of course that our Police especially in the culturally backward Hindi-speaking belt that includes Uttarakhand is all too permissive of criminality. The specific cause, however, is that an IPS incumbent heading the force does not believe in leaving his mark of being ruthless over cracking down on crime. (Usage of term “his” is gender- inclusive.) The social system in these belts is to partly share the blame why it is so. The IPS incumbent has reached his exalted status through a harsh grind that is much more so in these economically and culturally backward states. He has reached that status alright but it seems his ambition has taken a beating; perhaps he has not shed his envious state of disappointment at failing to make it to the yet even-more exalted IAS. So the grouse he harbours makes him unwilling to stick his neck out to blaze a trail of individual leadership that alone can make a lasting impact of whittling down the crime- behemoth. Why risk being different; so it is better to just gloss over the growth of criminality per se and spend precious time in being pliant and “readily available’’ to the bureaucrat-political nexus. The inspired leadership of Policemen like Bill Bratton, CBE, must leave such Police-chiefs cold. What seems to be the order of the day especially in culturally backward Uttarakhand is that the general IPS-incumbent will simply not apply his own mind to unravel a prima facie crime. It seems a misplaced sense of self-aggrandisement comes in the way of taking a personal interest in perusing the nature of the complaint. It’s clear a mental block kicks in that makes the IPS-incumbent think it is infra dig to apply his own mind to the case so he must simply chuck it down to the “lower orders” to do as they please. He, the exalted IPS-man, is so fully conscious of his place in society and so career-minded that he can’t be seen as being moved by a sense of justice. His thinking or what goes for it is that a sense of justice is outmoded and defunct. If he took to ensuring justice in the real sense of the term it will make him look silly in the eyes of his betters and underlings, alike. So he must not even allow the nature of the complaint to permeate his mind. He can fob off the person coming with the complaint with a few airy palliative remarks with the bit of pen-pushing shoving the matter down and out of his mind. However, a sense of justice is the raison d’être of the criminal justice system in all better societies and this is set down in the legal maxim “Actus reus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea”. “The act is not culpable unless the mind is guilty”. The long and short of this article is that our IPS brass isn’t burdened by any moral and ethical considerations that must inspire them or arouse them to get a culpable act investigated. In reality what an “investigation” means to an IPS-incumbent is to put a lowest-ranking police- person on the case and forget about it afterwards. That too if the case gets registered first. One uses the word “police-person” here whereas in more evolved societies every police-person is an “officer”. That is also part of grand-standing affected by the IPS and the import of it is not lost on the subordinates that their seniors are just self-seeking narcissistic individuals not the least bothered by a call of duty. So why should the “underling” display a much higher sense of duty? Uttarakhand particularly Dehradun has perpetual rounds of photo-ops keeping the IPS brass busy attracting attention to themselves. That must surely take their minds off investigating serious crimes. That is if at all they had ever conditioned their minds to do that. Perhaps their Academy forbids this as hindering the smooth glide up the career- course. Frederick the Great’s exhortation comes to mind, “Rascals will you live forever”. It is a resounding call to the elderly. This writer is old so he must not believe in mincing words. He has aptly summed up the state of Policing which he has experienced. In what is prima facie a culpable act an elderly, sick person was hounded out of the comforts of his palatial house in Dehradun to meet a violent death miles away from his home. It is poignant he met this death, in just this cold drizzling day of December the 12th. What is damning is that those who posed as looking after this sick old man never bothered to seek Police help to get him safely back home. Nor did they stir themselves to do that. And they have profited from his untimely death. But the Police think that his “care takers” did all they could to get him back home! Now what is left is to carry on what this gentleman killed was dedicated to doing – it was saving the environment; so his efforts cannot be allowed to die with him.