Starting October 3, The Morung Express is publishing a series, “101 Things You Wanted To Ask About the Police but Were Too Afraid To Ask,*” an easy guidebook published by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on knowing the police better. The questions 36-41 in the series are given below:
Police officers do dangerous work. Are they insured?
Yes, police officers are insured. All police personnel have to pay towards their group insurance cover. This is taken from their salary. Families of police officers, who die in the line of duty, are also paid an ex-gratia lump sum.
Can I hire a police officer for my own security?
Actually, you can if there is a grave threat to you. Sometimes the state will arrange security and at other times the security has to be paid for by you. According to the 1861 Police Act if you need extra police persons deployed to an area, and the authorities agree to it, you can pay for the additional police arrangements for a limited period of time. For example, for a large marriage or private occasion the police may agree to provide a few extra hands in that area at your cost. But if an area is crime prone or there is a public event taking place, it would be the duty of the police to provide extra people and no question of payment would arise.
Is a police officer always on duty?
Yes. The 1861 Police Act makes it clear that a police officer is “considered to be always on duty”. But that does not mean that he is never allowed to rest. It just means that wherever he is, in or out of uniform, he must act to uphold the law. He cannot say “I am not on duty” if he witnesses a crime taking place or hears a call for help.
Does a police officer have to obey any and all orders given to him by his senior or by any other person who is competent to give that order like a district collector or minister?
No. A police officer must obey orders only when they are lawful. He will be held responsible for any wrong thing he does even if he has been ordered to do it. He can never excuse his behaviour by saying that someone in authority told him to do something which was wrong and unlawful. That will not protect him.
Are the police automatically allowed to take free rides on public transport or take things from the market people without paying?
In some places police officers are given passes to take rides on public transport when they are on duty. But otherwise no police officer is allowed to take free rides. Likewise for market places; no police officer is allowed to take goods from a market stall just because he is a police officer. Like all citizens, he too has to pay for his purchases.
Do I have to listen to every order of the police officer?
Yes, if it is a lawful order that is related to his duties. In fact everyone has a duty to assist a police officer in doing his duty, especially if the police officer is trying to stop a fight or prevent a crime or trying to stop someone from escaping his custody. In fact, if you have information about a crime it is your duty to pass that information on to the police. It is also a duty not to shelter or harbour any proclaimed offender. You also have a duty to give evidence in a court of law if you know or have seen something in a case.
Check Last Week Questions here:
(To be contd…)
Source: *Written by Navaz Kotwal and Maja Daruwal, the contents of the book are reproduced here with permission.
To know more about CHRI visit: http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org