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PIL seeks better working conditions for constables

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Date : 28/11/2016

Rakesh Yadav Vs. State of Chhattisgarh & Another, WP(PIL) No.30 of 2015, Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh

Rakesh Yadav Vs. State of Chhattisgarh & Another, the present petition is being filed in public interest, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking better working conditions of the constables. The police constables at the lowest levels are the backbone of the law enforcement system in this country. It is essential that their working conditions are framed in such a manner that they can work efficiently. Overburdened constables can never work efficiently because they also require rest and recreation.
The issues raised in this petition are:
i) Weekly off for the police constabulary;
ii) Duties may be given in three shifts;
iii) Request for a dry canteen;
iv) To provide bulletproof jackets to the constables who are in active duty especially in the Naxal infested area;
v) A request for providing Computer, Fax machine etc. in all police stations in the State;
vi) A request for adequate housing facility for the police constables; and
vii) A request for payment of travelling allowance to such police constables for traveling even within the jurisdiction of their police station.

As per the order dated 28.11.2016, the Hon’ble Court was of the view that there should be a weekly off but there can be a provision in the state not to grant weekly off in administrative exigencies and also when the law and order situation so desires. And also, if the officials are so heavily burdened, then the efficiency of the police officials would be affected, therefore, it is better to give a break to these police personnel and no amount of financial compensation can compensate a day’s rest. Weekly off for a minimum of one day is one of the standard norms even as per the conditions prescribed by various organizations of the United Nations to which India is also a signatory.

It was also directed by the Court to constitute a committee headed by (i) Shri Vishwaranjan (retired Director General of Police), (ii) Secretary, Home (iii) Secretary, Finance and (iv) Superintendent of Police, Raipur be constituted. The Superintendent of Police, Raipur shall be the Convenor of the said committee.
The aforesaid committee shall not only look into the problems of weekly off for police constables, but also look into the working conditions of the Constables including housing and shift duty etc. and make its recommendations to the State Government.
The Court also made a recommendation that if our police personnel are sent to counter armed naxals or any such other organization, then they must be well equipped and provided with bulletproof jackets for their safety. And also within six months from today, the State of Chhattisgarh will provide enough bullet proof jackets to each police stations where there are such activities so that whenever any police constables or officials are sent to face such encounters, they are provided bulletproof vests.

As per the order dated 06.02.2017, the Hon’ble Court has directed the Principal Secretary (Home), Government of Chhattisgarh to file an affidavit by 30.1.2017 in which he shall clearly mention in a tabular form the number of police stations, where such facilities are available and also the number of police stations where such facilities are not available and shall set out the time frame within which it shall be provided. It also added that the Apex Court has already issued directions that any person can lodge a report by e-mail and if the report discloses commission of a cognizable offence, then the FIR can 2 be registered.

The Counsel for the petitioners submitted that though the Committee has been constituted in terms of previous order of this Court, the Committee has asked the Superintendents of Police to collect the demands of the police constables. It was also submitted that sometimes the police constables are very reluctant to place their demands before the Superintendent of Police. So, the police constables are now permitted to directly send their demands to the Committee through the convener of the Committee.

In this Public Interest Litigation, the Petitioner has raised various issues with regard to the service conditions of the Constabulary in the State of Chhattisgarh. The issues raised in this petition are :
Weekly off for the police constabulary;
Duties may be given in three shifts;
Request for a dry canteen;
To provide bullet proof jacket to the constables who are in active duty specially in the naxal infested area;
A request for providing Computer, Fax machine, etc. in all police stations in the State;
A request for adequate housing facility for the police constables; and
A request for payment of the travelling allowance to such police constables for traveling even within the jurisdiction of their police station.

One of the issues is with regard to providing computers and other such facilities in the various police stations in the State.

The State of Chhattisgarh-
It was submitted by the Additional Advocate General for the State, that in the State of Chhattisgarh, the employees of the police department have 15 days special leave and who are posted in the field are paid one month extra wages and therefore, the police officials are compensated adequately.
It was also submitted by the Counsel for the State that as far as providing bulletproof jackets to those policemen who are working in the naxal affected areas is concerned this matter is under active consideration and in some of the districts, bulletproof jackets have already been provided.

As far as providing computers, fax machines etc. to each police stations are concerned, the Counsel for State states that in most of the police stations, these items have already been provided.
The Principal Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh, Department of Home Affairs has filed his affidavit, in which it is stated that all 428 police stations are equipped with the computers. With regard to bullet proof jackets, it is stated that 5289 bullet proof jackets are available in police stations. Fax machines are available only in the 17 police stations. Fax machines are now becoming obsolete and in this fast changing technical world, fax machines are not really required. Good smart telephones are better substitute for fax machines because any document can be scanned and downloaded on the smartphone and sent to any part of the world. Therefore, it is for the Government to decide whether to purchase fax machines or not. It would be better for the Government to provide up to date computers and smart phones to each and every police station.

Case Laws cited- Apex Court in Youth Bar Association of India v. Union of India & Others

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