When retired IPS officers get together for their morning walks these days, they chat about Param Bir Singh, the former Mumbai Police Commissioner who has been branded a “absconder” by the courts.
The humiliation of being labelled a “absconder” is not inflicted on many lawbreakers. It’s almost certainly the first time a police official of such high level has been labelled a “absconder” in Mumbai, if not the entire country. Singh has brought disgrace to an agency that was designed to be the first stop for any citizen seeking justice.
Any thoughts of abolishing the two “imperial” services — the Indian Civil Service and the Indian Police — were put to rest by the country’s first home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who made the well-informed decision to keep the elite services under new nomenclatures, Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service, so that the newly-elected rulers could benefit from an impartial, honest, and non-political body of senior officers.
That promise and expectation were realised in the early decades after Independence, when venality in the political class, as well as in the ranks of administrators and law enforcers, was not as evident. The drive for power has increased the need for political parties to have money and force in order to retain or gain power throughout time. The state of governance steadily deteriorated, with some states deteriorating faster than others. Despite the temptations of dealing with a large commercial metropolis like Bombay, Maharashtra was one of the last bastions to fall (now Mumbai).
Over the years, the number of officials in both the IAS and the IPS who have succumbed to the lure of getting rich at any cost has progressively increased. The political favouritism incorporated in the recruitment of a large number of public service officials in excess of what is actually required has accelerated this tendency. In the course of a year, 56 officers were hired by the state police force. These officers eventually wind themselves in one of the two elite services, adding to the already existing disarray.
The reduction of the age restriction for regular recruitment to the IPS from the 24 years prescribed in our time via the UPSC’s combined competitive test has already paved the way for deterioration. It’s never easy to persuade those who have strong personal beliefs. Worse, in the rat race to the very top of the pyramid, younger men and women get a head start, generating behavioural aberrations in those who can’t climb any farther.
The power to appoint and transfer is wielded by the political elite. It employs it in order to obtain its pound of flesh. Many people who have dropped out of the race re-enter through patronage. They are those who will go to any length to assist political bosses in maintaining power. An independent group of bureaucrats would not have done this, but those prepared to compromise and sell their souls saw an opportunity to profit. Those in charge of making appointments paved the way for the now-common affliction of “lobbying,” which was once frowned upon.
The tragedy that has struck a good force like the Mumbai municipal police is the result of a bad leader’s choice. It is entirely the fault of the political elite to entrust the public with police officers who only care about themselves and not the people they have promised to protect.
With the Damocles sword of property confiscation hanging over his head and the Supreme Court protecting Singh from arrest until the next hearing on December 6, he has resurrected like a Houdini and reported to one of his previous subordinate establishments for the recording of his say in the extortion cases filed against him. He’ll very certainly argue that all of these instances stem from his time as Thane’s Police Commissioner (out of turn, allegedly due to the good offices of a BJP MP known to the then chief minister). Why were these charges brought against him only after he spoke out against the ruling alliance’s home minister for making alarming monthly “hafta” demands from the Mumbai police? He has the right to ask this inquiry.
Similarly to how the state government is using its police to apprehend Singh, the federal government is targeting the state government through its numerous investigation agencies, including the CBI and the ED. Both kinds of lawbreakers will find it simple to wiggle out of the schemes in which they are presently entangled in this condition of political turmoil. It will be more difficult for Anil Deshmukh, the NCP’s former home minister. Because of the paper trail established by the ED, he has been cornered. However, the other charge of seeking Rs 100 crore a month from the Mumbai Police through Sachin Vaze, a low-level police officer who is wanted by both his own boss and political superiors, is based on an oral confession that will be put to the test.
Vaze was restored against all legal and moral constraints after being suspended from service due to a murder charge. The piece of paper that underpins his reinstatement will reveal the identity of the true perpetrators. Both parties want to keep that crucial piece of evidence out of the way, where all investigations should begin. The reason has been determined. It was with the nefarious goal of obtaining tainted funds from lawbreakers. Vaze was supposedly chosen as the expert for the assignment. Who made the decision, and how was the restoration carried out in accordance with all legal precedents?
And why did Vaze park the SUV outside Mukesh Ambani’s house with gelatin sticks? I can’t imagine an assistant police inspector could do something like this without the commissioner’s knowledge. And, as the whole Crime Branch was aware, this particular API reported directly to Singh. Vaze was emboldened by his relationship with Singh, who allowed him to display multiple high-end cars in the commissioner’s complex and reserve a suite in a five-star hotel from which he operated. If the commissioner claims he was unaware of these acts, he should be fired immediately.
Aryan Jakhar works as an Editor-in-Chief at The Shining Media. Also, he is an editor at YouthPolitician (digital media situated in Taiwan). He writes his opinions on social issues at YouthKiAwaaz and also on his blogger website.