The State government on Tuesday informed the Madras High Court of having constituted a State-level Police Complaints Authority headed by the Home Secretary and district-level authorities led by Collectors concerned for inquiring into complaints of rape, death or grievous hurt caused to people in police custody.
Advocate-General Vijay Narayan told a Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and R. Hemalatha that a Government Order was issued on November 14 for the constitution of the State level as well as district level complaints authorities in accordance with Chapter IV of the Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Act of 2013.
The submission was made during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition filed by advocate A.P. Suryaprakasam, 66, seeking a direction to the government to constitute the authorities at the earliest in accordance with directions issued by the Supreme Court to all State governments in the famous Prakash Singh’s case in 2006.
Though the government claimed to have already constituted the authorities, the petitioner’s counsel M.L. Ravi claimed that it was not in accordance with the apex court orders, which insisted that the State-level authority should be headed by a retired High Court judge and the district-level authorities should be led by retired judicial officers.
After hearing him, the judges granted time till January 20 for the State government to file its detailed counter affidavit to the PIL petition and adjourned the case thereafter.
In his affidavit, the petitioner advocate pointed out that it was the Supreme Court which had insisted upon bringing in large scale reforms in the police force across the country and issued a slew of directions to all State governments. One of the those directions was related to creation of police complaints authority.
That direction specifically stated that there should be district level police complaints authority to inquire into complaints against officers up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and such authorities could be headed by retired district judges whose names could be recommended by the Chief Justice of the jurisdictional High Court.
Similarly, the head of the State level Police Complaints Authority should be chosen from among a panel of names of retired High Court judges proposed by the Chief Justice. Such authorities could also comprise of three or five members depending upon the volume of complaints received in different States, the apex court had said.
On the contrary, a provision had been inserted in the Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Act for appointment of bureaucrats alone to chair the police complaints authority and such an exercise could not be accepted, the petitioner’s counsel claimed.