Conditions at the Women's Police Station

The women's police station which is attached to the SPUWAC Nanakpura, which is the main CAW Cell in Delhi, is a place which is worth visiting for every person who might want to learn about the truth behind the claims being made by Delhi Police and the rest of the law enforcement machinery in the national capital. Government officers keeps saying that crores have been spent in modernisation and training of the police. Is this a statement of fact?

I remember seeing only one computer in the whole police station. This is the computer at the reception. Investigating officers do all their work by hand. Those who are from an older generation have not been provided any training by their department, which has a number of training establishments, and has appointed a director general level officer as the man incharge of training. What this director general has achieved in terms of making these IOs computer literate is there for everyone to see. One man in one of the rooms occupied by the IOs laughs when I tell him to requisition computers for himself and his colleagues, and tells me that I cannot start to imagine even the ABC of police administration.

I see a steel almirah standing in the sun, with clear signs of peeling paint and rust. An IO tells me that this is a part of stridhan/dowry which was recovered from a husband's home and brought to the police station, but the wife has not taken it back yet. There is a water cooler for drinking water, but it is situated along the boundary wall at the edge of the lawn at the front, and is slowly rusting to oblivion. There is a glass at the tap of the water cooler, but nobody uses it, wisely.

I go to meet the IO allotted to me. There are two chairs for his visitors in front of his table. They are tied to one of the legs of his table by iron chains which are held fast by an ingeniously placed lock for some unclear reason. This is psychologically disturbing for me, but I let it slide and do not complain to anyone. After all I am the main accused, and I have few real rights in the Indian legal system. There is a decrepit room with a low door near my IOs room. The door to that room is old and broken, and somebody has shoddily painted the words "toilet out of use" in black paint at the top of the door frame.

There is a pair of functional toilets around the back of the police station to which all men and women go. I note as an urban designer that these toilets are in an unmonitored and a negative space, and the lady officers who use the ladies toilet run the risk of getting mugged by any of the real criminals who constitute a small percentage of the accused persons by their own estimates.

The SHO sits in a cabin which is separate from the whole police station, in the sense that you have to go out of the main door of the thana, and then walk a few yards to reach the SHOs cabin. The SHO sits behind a glass door. She is observable by all her subordinates who may stand outside to catch some fresh air, but she cannot see any of her subordinates from her seat, or from any point in her office. She has to walk out into the cold or rain or sun, and then walk to the reception, and then go to the various rooms where the subordinates are sitting. There is no intercom system for her to call them. It is all done on mobile phone or by walking to the reception and sending somebody from there.

One day I see her berating the subordinates at the reception for their incompetence and laziness. This is not surprising because there is more than one person sitting at the reception who gives unasked for advice to accused / defendants, and they are generally too busy talking to each other to care about the visitors.

There is an ACP or an Inspector (I forget her rank) who sits in a room in a building at the back of the police station compound. This is in keeping with the theme of making people walk out of the main door to go to various parts of the police station. I gather that she either makes decisions in the absence of the SHO, or she is mandated with vetting the SHOs decisions. She is very gentle and obsequious with the complainant women, and calls them beta/beti. She does not bother to offer a chair to a septuagenarian accused mother-in-law.

There are 15 investigating officers in this thana. This is one of the largest number of IOs in any police station in the country. They are often seen complaining that they have to keep running from one court to another every day. One investigating officer told me that judges are an angry and unreasonable lot, and they often issue non-bailable warrants against investigating officers who fail to turn up on even one court date. He went to the High Court one day ago, knowingly ignoring the date at a lower court on the same day. The judge gave an earful to the public prosecutor who in turn told the IO off. He has not been here as long as most of the others, but he says that he has more than 50 cases to handle, and a new one comes almost every day.

If every case were to be converted to an FIR, then these investigating officers would go mad because of the workload. As it is, things are not rosy for them, with public prosecutors berating them for shoddy work, the SHO pressuring them to perform, and the judges issuing non-bailable warrants against them. So these men try to arrange compromises between complaining wives and husbands. This way they save a big headache for themselves and the system.

There are innumerable people who will agree with the observation that if all the cases which end in monetary settlement before the FIR stage were to be converted into FIRs, then the crime against women rate recorded by the National Crime Records Bureau would go up by a factor of three and a half. Such a situation would result in more funds for the CAW Cell, and more power to the police to harass husbands, and (more's the joy) the feminists (the only people who matter these days) would feel vindicated. (The judiciary or the government –it is not clear which– is not keen on letting the already collapsed criminal justice system sink into the ground further. Ergo, the compromise formula has been devised. This keeps the wives and their parents happy too.)

But a closer look reveals that this logic is faulty. The monetary compensation system is also the reason why there are so many complaints. Indeed, if you make rape compoundable on payment of money, you will see the rape rate shoot up to a level at least 5 times higher than it has shot up already –after women all over the country realised (in the wake of the famous rape case) that they can destroy any man who they hate and still remain anonymous if they make a rape complaint against him.

One of the IOs sees me arrive five minutes before time, and comments that I have done a wise thing. I have no idea what he is talking about. He tells me that while leaving also I should make sure that I do not leave with my 'wife' and her father, and the penny drops. He says that there are no laws in favour of men anywhere in the world, not just in India. I tell him that the discrimination against men is not just limited to written laws, but is being perpetuated by publicity hungry members of the judiciary too. He agrees with me.

(A note to the reader: In a recent acquittal of a rape accused by a two judge bench, the judges noted that the man had clearly been falsely accused. They made some observations in their judgement about rape being a crime which destroys the very soul of a woman. Would it not make more sense if they were to wax lyrical about the atrocity caused by false accusations of rape (and not by rape) when they were writing a judgement about a false accusation? Is it not sufficient for them that the whole legislature, executive, and the media complex of the world is currently engaged in demanding justice and 'justice' for women? Why did they feel the need to add their two cents in a place where it is not apposite to the context? Does this not reveal a desire for self-publicity? A desire to be lionised by the media which is obsessed with female victims and 'victims'?)

The SHO talks to me for five minutes, having talked to my 'wife' and her father for about 30 minutes. She makes some comments about them and their character which I cannot reveal here.

You may also wish to read CAW Cell Procedure and/or Conditions at the Delhi High Court and/or Interrogation and Investigation by the Police in Dowry Cases and/or Arrest!! (OR Who is Joginder Kumar?)

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Published by Manish Udar

Last updated on 20th August 2013
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