NEW DELHI: The entire staff of a 49-member police station is busy running a cricket betting racket under the indulgent eye of a senior. For the last 10 years, a constable has rendered invaluable service, procuring tickets for his mentors.
A Deputy Commissioner has stayed put in his post for a decade. While this may seem innocent enough, these are actually ‘rewards’ for the loyalists in the 15,000-member Delhi Police Force, the fruits of labor for doing the ‘dirty jobs’ for their masters. Other rewards include postings of their choice.
Skeletons that tumble out of the Delhi Police’s cupboard include corruption discrimination, favouritism, vested interests, and rackets afflict the country’s best police force, where rules elude the very protectors of the law. For the force, the probe begins at home. In a bid to curb corruption among its own, the DP has started to look within.
For the first time ever, the force has managed to unearth the root cause of corruption among its ranks. And to remove the bad apples, it is busily preparing a list of the non-IPS officers, who have served at a particular post for more than the stipulated five-year term. It is also making a list of agents of senior officers, who have been allegedly involved in extortion and other such activities. Sources reveal that around 15,000 of the total 77,329 personnel have enjoyed their stints in one post for over a decade at a stretch. They have not been transferred even once in these years.
“Many of these 15,000 personnel have served in the same post or at the same unit in the Delhi Police for about 15 years,” the sources said.
Interestingly, reasons behind these personnel occupying the same posts or remaining in a single unit for such a long time are not easily fathomable. Officers who did not wish to be named say it is because of “extraneous reasons”, adding that some are favoured because they perform ‘dirty jobs’ for their ‘masters’ in the force. The officers also said that because of this practice, hundreds of honest personnel have also been suffering.
Earlier this year, R K Singh, former Home Secretary and current BJP Lok Sabha MP from Bihar, had accused former Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde of influencing transfers and postings of the DP. Singh had alleged that Shinde’s personal staff would often send paper slips or text messages to the Commissioners, with the names of candidates and their desired posting in the city.
In May this year, the alleged scandal relating to transfers and postings of Delhi Police personnel came to the fore once again when a constable from one of the police battalions in the national capital met B S Bassi, Commissioner of Police, and lodged a formal complaint.
It was alleged that personal staff of a particular Joint Commissioner, whose name has been withheld, had been extorting money from colleagues to stop transfers and ensure preferential postings. Through his complaint, the constable claimed he was being victimised, as he was unable to pay the bribe. He was transferred out of his present posting, despite requesting to stop his posting on compassionate grounds.
Bassi took immediate action and stopped all transfers and postings in the force during May and June. He also asked Special Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar Verma to probe the matter. Verma, a 1979 batch IPS officer, took up the investigation into various cases of alleged corruption in Delhi Police, and dug into them to get to the root cause of the problem.
Sources said that Verma, during his probe, found that several personnel in the DP were involved in illegal activities and a well-knit racket was operating within the force. Most of those involved in such illegal acts were continuing in the same post or unit for over a decade. Later, 10 cases of corruption were unearthed.
One of the biggest cases was in the North East police district’s Nand Nagri station, where the entire staff members were involved in running cricket betting rackets and other illegal activities, under the direction of a senior police official.
As a punishment, 49 personnel of the police station were transferred to the Third Battalion in one go. Following the probe, Verma had called a meeting of all Special Commissioners of Police and shared the issues facing the Delhi Police, especially the corruption infesting the force due to manipulation of transfers and postings. He also sought suggestions from these officers to tackle the menace.
After the meeting, he issued a standing order on July 22 to all Delhi Police units to prepare a list of personnel who had not been transferred in the last five years.
It was while compiling this list that senior police officials discovered that around 15,000 personnel - nearly 20 per cent of the total manpower - were continuing in one location for over a decade. When asked about such cases, Verma said there will be a major shakeup in the force.
The senior officials also found that hundreds of honest police officials in various departments were not transferred or given opportunities. In units such as Crime Branch, Special Cell, Economics Offence Wing, Ministerial, Police Headquarters and Intelligence and Security, personnel have stayed around for decades.
It is a Herculean task to rejig the force and many senior officers opine that this will create hurdles in the administration, as the personnel’s expertise is a factor that would be a casualty, if massive transfers are done.
Citing the example of Special Cell, an officer said that the personnel in the anti-terror unit need extraordinary proficiency in intelligence gathering. And, if those who have been trained for these special tasks are transferred out on a regular basis to other units, the anti-terror effort of the Delhi Police would suffer. But he also complied with Verma’s idea as many “cops go rogue”.
Similarly, at the Economic Offences Wing and the Crime Branch, personnel need acumen to crack white-collar crimes and organised gangs. When the personnel, who have gained expertise in investigating such cases, get transferred within three years, the units would end up wasting their precious time to train the new personnel and not chase the criminal gangs.
There is a Transfer Committee in Delhi Police headed by three Special Commissioners -Administration, Vigilance and Crime - but it is believed to be only on paper. The DP has no policy on transfers and postings, and as a result, only precedent is the rule followed.
“The force needs written rules and it should be followed strictly,” a police officer, who did not wish to be named, suggested. “There are problems like discrimination, favoritism and vested interests of the police officers. Many of them are not being transferred, as they are agents of senior officers,” he added.
To run the system effectively, police personnel must be transferred on a rotational basis, giving everyone equal opportunity to serve in various units, another officer said.