The assumption of charge as the State Police Chief by Sri C.Srikumar in Karnataka is seen by citizens of the state as a great opportunity for reforms. Mr Srikumar has a great reputation as a tech savvy police man and his efforts at Karnataka State Police Housing Corporation was fit to be show cased as a model e-Governance project.

During the brief stint as acting-DGP last month during the Karnataka elections, he again weaved his magic hand and put up a statewide information network showing the law and order situation in the state at each district using a website. No doubt this is only the first step towards improvement of law and order situation, but it is the most important step which most others would hesitate to take since there is always a tendency in the Police to hide the statistics of incidents rather than be transparent about it.

We are sure that the new DGP must be having several useful plans ahead of him. In particular, the undersigned urges the new DGP to introduce an online complaint registration system where in any Citizen of Karnataka should be able to file a complaint at a central complaint receving system which then should distribute it to the right jurisidction police station. The complainant should get immediate acknowledgement and the relevant police officer may be asked to visit the complainant at his address, get more details and register the FIR. In other words, instead of the complainant making repeated trips to the police station to register his complaint, it should be the responsibility of the police officer to file a status report on the online complaint withing 24 hours. Further follow up can be automated with the system generating necessary alerts at different levels of the Police so that no genuine complaint gets neglected.

There are two issues to be tackled in this system. Firstly not all the citizens may have the capabilities to file online complaints with digital signatures. We therefore need some members of public to act as “Intermediaries” and file the complaint after verifying  the ID of the complainant. A system for receipt of such “Proxy Complaints” may be set up taking care that these do not turn to be mere replacement of the current police officer who uses his discretion to register or not to register a complaint and in the process turns “Complaint Registration” into a nightmare for the complainant. The intermediaries should also not become objects of harassment by the local police.

The second issue would be of “False Complaints”. This cannot be eliminated but is a small price to pay for the benefits of the system. Such complaints can however be disposed off as “Rejected” after the police officer files his report.

It should be recognized that this system is not only meant for the tech savvy complainants in the silicon city of Bangalore but it would be more useful for the rural folk who are today at the mercy of the station house officer when it comes to filing complaints against the powerful persons in the community. With this system they can go to any tech savvy persons such as a friendly Cyber Cafe owner even in the nearest city to file an online complaint.

This project would include provision of Internet connectivity at all police stations and provision of digital signatures to all station house officers and therefore bring in long term benefits to the entire system.

Citizens of Karnataka would be greatful if this  project  is implemented during the tenure of Mr Srikumar. While we are reasonably confident that the new DGP may himself be contemplating such a project, it would be necessary for the Government to ensure that it is not withdrawn after his tenure.

Naavi

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