New Delhi, Oct 30 :The urgent need for reforms in the police and judicial systems, coupled with reining in politicians and the media, particularly the electronic media, to prevent them from subverting the system was stressed by former Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar at the release function of his book "Khaki Files", here.
The book details eight high-profile case of the past decade and a half that he was at the forefront of cracking, at times at a great personal cost.
"Why do the high and mighty figure" in some of the most heinous crimes, Kumar asked at the release of the book (published by Blue Salt/Penguin).
"Is the system willing to protect us from malicious complaints", he said in a reference to what has come to be known as the Nirbhaya case, the brutal rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapist in December 2012 that eventually resulted in her death, where there were demands from then Delhi Chief Minister down to the TV media for his resignation despite the case being cracked within 72 hours and the arrest of the four perpetrators. That criticism is widely believed to have come in his way of being elevated as the CBI Director.
Kumar is even more harsh in the book, detailing, for instance, the activities of Bihar politician Mohammad Shahabuddin (MS).
"MS is a criminal turned politician whose equal would be difficult to find in the annals of crime. Yes, you may find offenders with darker criminal involvements, criminals who are far more cruel and devious; but in my nearly four-decade-long police career, I haven't heard of anyone who alongside his career in crime has been as successful in politics as MS.
"He served as a member of Bihar Assembly for two terms in the 1990s and as an MP for four consecutive terms. His political career thrived until the long arm of the law finally caught up with him," Kumar writes on page 85.
His contempt for politicians goes even further as he details the aftermath of the 2001 attack on Parliament when MPs cowered even after the "last bullet had been fired" and the attackers had been killed.
The MPs "demanded that the security make a safe passage for them by standing in a line, hand-in-hand, on either side of the porch, creating two human shields. It was only when their demand was met that the lawmakers emerged from the citadel of democracy, cowering and shivering in fear. They walked between the human walls, crouching with their hands over their heads, quickly got into their vehicles and left. A few of them even crouched in their cars" (page 198).
It's "amazing" that "we let people like this survive," said the Chief Guest Justice Madan Lokur, who retired from the Supreme Court after a seven-year stint, having served earlier as the acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and subsequently as the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court and the Hyderabad High Court before it was split between Andhra Pradesh and the newly created Telangana.
But to get back to Kumar, the Supreme Court had asked for police reforms, the police itself had asked for reforms but the executive had said, in effect, stay as you are, he said, alluding that any such reforms would take the police out of the ambit of politicians.
Yashvardhan Azad, former Special Director in the IB and former Secretary (Security) in the Cabinet Secretariat, reinforced this.
In the present system, there's "hell" for sensitive police officers. "Political pressure will cripple the system". Every politician wants his share of the pie in handing out contracts et al, making it difficult to crack down on graft because institutions don't work and justice comes down to being handed down by kangaroo courts.
Justice Lokur couldn't agree more. "The justice delivery system needs a complete overhaul for things can improve," he said aptly summing up the situation in the country.