A four-member panel headed by the director general of police (Crime) has submitted a report to the police chief Loknath Behera recommending disciplinary action against as many as 59 personnel involved in criminal cases, ranging from attempt to murder to sexual harassment.
The panel was formed as per the directions of the police chief about two months ago to suggest action against tainted officers in the force. The department would seek legal advice from the Law Department regarding the action to be initiated. At least 10 of the 59 officers named by the panel could be dismissed from service, it was learnt.
A majority of the personnel who will face disciplinary proceedings and criminal investigation are police officers of, and below, the rank of sub-inspector. The cases against them included attempt to murder, atrocities against women, sexual abuse of children, forgery, assault on complainants, illegal financial transactions etc.
The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) had directed the police chief to fetch details of the police officers named as accused in criminal offences after responses to queries under the Right to Information Act (RTI) showed an upward trend in the number of criminals in khaki during the last two years.
Following which, a panel comprising the DGP (crime), inspector general of police (intelligence), deputy inspector general (Armed Police Battalion), superintendent of police (Security) and superintendent of police (NRI Cell) was constituted to identify law enforcement officers who have been accused of criminal activities.
The data released by the Home Department in April in reply to an RTI application had pegged the number of officers involved with criminal cases at 1,129. That list included 10 DySPs, eight CIs and 195 personnel of SI-ASI ranks.
Based on that report, the four-member committee was formed on April 24. A detailed probe was conducted into each case and 387 officers were prima-facie found guilty in the inquiry. A revised list of offenders was prepared later, in which fifty-nine officers were found to be involved in cases which were of grave nature. The final list was submitted to the DGP on July 20.
Opining that the presence of such tainted officers would undermine the discipline of the force, the panel has recommended stringent action against the offenders. The DGP has also made it clear that those who are facing criminal charges would be shown the door.
As per section 86 (C) of the Kerala Police Act, no person shall be eligible for appointment as a police officer or shall have the right to continue in employment as a police officer if that person is found mentally, physically or behaviourally unfit for carrying out the duties of police. Since the rule also stipulates that the appointing authority needs to give reasonable opportunity to the accused to prove his/her innocence, criminal proceedings will be initiated only after completing all the legal formalities.
Based on legal advice, an explanation will be sought from the officers whose names figured in criminal cases, it was learnt.
The department started charted documenting of officers facing charges of illegality as per a circular issued on September 9, 2011. Though the number of ‘criminals in khaki’ dropped in 2014, the figures took an upward curve in the following years, according to the reply to an RTI query filed by V Sreekumar, secretary of the Kerala RTI Federation.