Now people in Punjab will no longer have to go to police stations to lodge complaints as these will be first dealt by police panchayats (Community Police Wing) at the Saanjh Kendras, whether the complaints be cognizable or non-cognizable.
The Saanjh Kendras had already been providing 22 police services under the Right to Service Act for the past two years. More than 20 lakh citizens have availed of the services. Now they will also assist in resolving disputes in non-cognizable cases with the participation of members of the community of a particular area. Earlier, complaints could also be lodged in police stations, but now complaints have to be first lodged at these Kendras.
The complainant can walk into a Saanjh Kendra and lodge a complaint. The cognizable complaints will be sent to the concerned police stations, while non-cognizable ones will be dealt with at the Kendra.
Additional Director General of Police (Community Policing), Punjab, S K Sharma said, “An alternate dispute redressal mechanism has been established in the Saanjh Kendras. Now the public does not need to go to the police station to submit any type of complaint—cognizable or non-cognizable. A person can go to a Saanjh Kendra—there is one in every sub division, at the district level and at the police outreach centres in all 363 police stations—and file a complaint.”
The non-cognizable complaints will be dealt by police panchayat comprising the Kendra in charge and 15 volunteers from the civil society of that sub division, the committee (panchayat) at district level will have 21 members and that at outreach centre level will have 12 members. The time period to dispose of complaints will be 15 days, but for complaints regarding women, children and economic issues, it will be 30 days.
The complaints can be filed at any of these three set-ups and for non-cognizable (public nuisance, late-night parties, property disputes) offences, these committees will call the concerned parties and try to resolve the issue. If the dispute remains unresolved, then matters of civil nature will be directed to courts. If any offence is made out then they will be referred to the concerned police station, said a source.
The kendras would be run by a six-member police team headed by an inspector-level officer in civvies. Drinking water, tea and coffee vending machines, AC and comfortable seating will also be provided.
Saanjh Kendras are the dream project of Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Badal. “The plan is to rid of red tape and encourage a corporate working environment,” he said.
The cognizable complaints will be forwarded to the concerned police station. “If they do not register an FIR, they will have to give reasons for doing so within 15 days,” said Sharma. “This system will mean no direct interaction between police and public as the common man is afraid to go to the police station,” he said.
“The complainant can track the complaint online through the unique ID number given to him. The person filing the complaint will have to fill a form and be photographed through a web cam, eliminating the possibility of false complaints,” said Sharma.
Three thousand eighty-five police officers of all ranks have been exclusively put on community policing duties in the state.
The move has so far got mixed reactions from the public. Harpal Singh, a retired civil servant said, “This is a good step and will prevent corruption.’’ Gagandeep Singh, who works for a multinational company, felt “it will further increase red tapism”.