From custodial deaths, corruption, extortion to threats and assault, the number of complaints against police personnel in Maharashtra is at an all time high, next only to Madhya Pradesh. As per the data released by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB), in 2013, a total of 7280 complaints have been received against police officers, of which 442 cases were registered, which is the highest in the country. Of that, 230 were reported for departmental action and 172 were sent for trials/chargesheeted.
According to the police, the reason for such huge numbers is sheer strength of the police force in the State. "We have a strength of nearly 1.95 lakh police officials. That apart, our department has always been transparent which is why we register every complaint that comes our way. However, most of them turn out to be unsubstantial or false," said Deven Bharti, Inspector General (law and order), Maharashtra.
The police officials also attribute the rise to the slow pace at which cases are treated and when the outcome of cases is not as expected. A senior police officer said, "There is increasing anger among public who questioning the efficiency of police officials. Sometimes, when the outcome of the case is not as expected, public lashes out at the cops and there is a tiff. There is a general tendency among the public to find fault with policing, which transpires into complaints."
However, there is rise in number of extortion and corruption cases against officers. Police is the most corrupt department, as per the statistics by the Anti Corruption Bureau. Over 230 cases were registered last year by the ACB against police officers. As a senior official puts it, “All this can be attributed to power play. Police are most respected and feared. Therefore, cops take advantage of their position to extort money from citizens be it to prove innocence, prevent arrests or tamper with evidence.” Custodial deaths in Maharashtra was 35 in 2013 and so far, although cases have been registered against police officers, only one has been chargesheeted. It is among the most serious crimes committed by police officers.
Some of the other offences attributed the officers were cheating, molestation and assault. A senior officer said, “There is tremendous pressure among the cops. We have been disciplining the officers including constables, officers and senior officials about behavior, communication and interaction. We check their backgrounds and records too before recruiting them. For every complaint received, we conduct a departmental inquiry and initiate strict action.”
Complaints against police personnel in Maharashtra in 2013
Number of complaints received - 7280
Number of inquiry instituted (Departmental/magisterial/judicial) - 951/1/86
Registered cases - 442
Number of cases reported for departmental action - 230
Number of cases sent for trials/chargesheeted - 172
false cases/unsubstantial cases - 4172