Police can no longer play judge in civil disputes


Bengaluru: Police personnel will no longer be allowed to play judge, jury or the proverbial executioner in civil dispute cases, which more often than not trigger bribery and corruption within the force.

Director-General and Inspector-General of Police R.K. Dutta, in a circular issued earlier this month, warned jurisdictional senior officers that they would be held responsible if their personnel were found interfering in civil disputes outside the purview of law.

This comes in the backdrop of a recent High Court order directing the State police to stop interfering in civil disputes. There have also been a growing number of complaints from the public that police officers were getting involved in settling such disputes.

As of now, the police intervene in property-related cases and settle them out of court, said a senior police officer.

Dutta, however, said that the police do not have the required expertise to get involved.

“Such interference will not only demean the stature of the police but also lead to rampant corruption and favouritism,” he said. The circular also directs the DGs and range IGs to submit an action taken report within three weeks.

It is the duty of senior police officers to take proactive measures and curb the menace of these informal ‘adalats’. “If no action is taken against the erring police officers, it will indicate that such officers have the backing of their higher-ups,” the circular read.

Reiterating that such activities are outside the purview of a police personnel’s duties, Mr. Dutta said: “Property disputes come within the domain of the civil courts and the parties should approach those courts for their redressal. It is outside the limits of the duties of the police and it’s not in our territory. The police should focus on investigating crime and maintaining law and order.”

A senior police officer said that his colleagues will be hit hard by this order as often, junior personnel take up these cases at their behest and get a cut from the money that exchanges hands.

A junior officer said that the order puts them between the devil and the deep sea. “If we follow the circular, we may antagonise our seniors who sometimes have vested interests in a civil dispute. If we don’t, we’ll get pulled by the DG-IGP.”

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