INDIA: What makes the IPS officers special? 

AHRC-STM-141-2011.jpgIn what is reported as “a surprise development”, the Gujarat IPS Officers’ Association has voiced their concern against the ill-treatment meted out against one of their members, Mr Sanjiv Bhatt. The Gandhinagar police in Gujarat state arrested Bhatt, an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS) after a subordinate officer accused Bhatt, that he forced the subordinate officer to sign a fabricated affidavit, so that it could substantiate the circumstances that could implicate Mr Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, in the infamous 2002 Gujarat riots. (Picture Courtesy:

The 2002 Gujarat riot is also referred to as the ‘shame of India’ and is detested for several reasons. In addition to the brutal violence committed against thousands of citizens, the despicable incident is also unpopular for the yet to be conclusively proved involvement of Modi in using the state police to suit the operational architecture of the religious fundamentalists who are partially responsible for the 2002 riots. The affidavit, which is now disputed and pending consideration of the court, if proved to be true, will support the case implicating Modi as one of the criminal masterminds of the riot, in the role he allegedly played as the then Chief Minister of the state, which at the moment is left to anyone’s interpretation. The affidavit in question reportedly could throw light into a disputed fact, that Modi as the Chief Minister of the state had ordered his police officers to “go slow” in dealing with the Hindu fundamentalist groups that were “dealing” with the Muslims in the riot. The state government’s response was prompt as expected, by first suspending Bhatt in August and later arresting him on 30 September.

It is for the courts in the country to decide Bhatt’s fate, to decide whether there is any truth in the accusations Bhatt has made against the state government and controversial politicians like Modi. Yet, one has to appreciate and acknowledge the courage of the officer, and further, the support he received and continues to receive from his peers, for speaking up. The statement of the Gujarat IPS Officers’ Association, is the latest that supports Bhatt. However, this statement should also be viewed from a slightly different vein, which if appreciated and acted upon, could lead the way in ending what is known as the ‘political servitude’ of the country’s police.

Mr Prakash Singh, yet another police officer had approached the Supreme Court of India seeking the Court’s guidance and its expressive writ to end what Singh – like many other honest officers experienced and continues to suffer from – the enabling environment that exists within the police service which results in operational and administrative servitude of the police to corrupt and vicious politicians of the country. The Apex Court on an earlier occasion, in what is more popularly known as the ‘D.K.Basu case’ had issued directives to the governments, state and central, about the procedures the police and other law enforcement agencies should follow at the time of arrest, detention and questioning of detainees. The Court, as if it was doubtful of the compliance of its directives, ordered that the directives be pasted at the entrance of every police station in the country. Though the directives are hardly followed – the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has issued even today yet another Urgent Appeal depicting the factual scenario – led to an amendment of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1974, wherein most of the directives were incorporated into substantive law. Despite both the cases, and the Court’s interventions, the condition continues today and we have an officer like Bhatt in custody for daring to speak, probably the truth.

The AHRC concurs with the sentiments expressed by the Gujarat IPS Officers’ Association concerning the conditions of Bhatt’s arrest and detention. It is reported that the police detained Bhatt in in-human conditions, including keeping the officer in a small and shabby lock-up without access to friends or family members and without proper food, and undertook repeated raids at the officer’s house thereby unreasonably troubling or harassing his family. It might be true. Yet, one could ask, is it not the same that the police, in the length and breadth of the country, on a daily basis, in almost all cases of arrest, do to the ordinary people? Is it not better, in Bhatt’s case that he was not physically tortured, at the time of arrest and during his detention? Is it not still better that there is an officers’ association to at least express solidarity with him? Would the officers’ association respond in a similar fashion, should the police officer in ‘trouble’ is a petty constable?

These questions logically leads into concerns that the police officers in the country must ask to themselves. If the entire country could demand for action against corruption – let us keep aside who led it and the means for the moment – what prevents the police officers from demanding the government that they should be treated with the respect they disserve? What prevents the police officers, who had and have persons with integrity like Prakash Singh among them, from determining that they would not do and would not let their colleagues continue to do the dirty laundry for the politicians and the privileged in India? Would the Indian Police Service, be worthy enough to the tax payers’ money that is spent for recruiting, training and paying an officer from the day the officer signs in at the training academy to the day the officer receives the last pension, and affirm to the country, that they are here to serve the people and not just the privileged?

Or would Bhatt’s case will also be brushed under the rotten carpet of neglect, dishonesty and servitude? Or is human rights and values the exclusive choice of the country’s privileged, including IPS officers, and not a guarantee to each citizen?

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-141-2011
Countries : India,