Sindh’s police chief IGP Dr Kaleem Imam has issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for his subordinates detailing the mechanism that will be used to redress public complaints.
Official sources said that it is imperative to have a mechanism to deal with the situations where police officers fail to discharge their statutory duty towards the people, cause injustice or do not adhere to the laid down procedures, resulting in inconvenience or unfairness to the law-abiding citizens.
They added that the existing public complaints mechanism is not only inadequate and inconvenient but it also results in excessive litigation at various judicial forums. They said that there is a dire need for an efficient and workable complaint redressing system to deal with police-related public complaints at the initial stage, before an otherwise minor problem becomes a major issue at the cost of police image and avoidable judicial intervention.
In his directions and SOP, the police chief clearly said that an effective complaint redressing mechanism is the key for identifying and preventing corruption and other malpractices. “This not only provides citizens with channels to report any incidence or allegation of corruption or other malpractice but also identifies problems and issues that otherwise might not surface.”
The Sindh police aim to provide an efficient, reliable and organised public complaints redressing mechanism. The objectives are to establish an efficient and credible public complaints system for internal accountability of police officers, and to establish a functional complaint management mechanism so that the citizens are able to make complaints with convenience and confidence.
They also aim to devise a mechanism so that the reported cases are handled efficiently and effectively, and to chalk out a mechanism to provide an adequate and timely response to the issues raised and inform the applicant about the action taken on their complaint.
Moreover, they want to establish an effective complaint redressing mechanism that has the potential to strengthen the organisation’s credibility and reputation, to strengthen the trust of citizens and communities in the Sindh police and to ensure internal accountability of the police organisation.
The guiding principles for the Sindh Police Complaint & Internal Affairs Cell are responsiveness, cultural appropriateness, efficiency and proportionality, confidentiality and anonymity, rights compatibility, impartiality and independence.
The public complaints redressing system aims to adhere to the guidelines enunciated in the landmark June 1, 2005 Supreme Court judgment that spelled out the concerns of the judiciary regarding complaints against the police. The court had envisaged the role of justices of peace for redressing public grievances.
The major complaints against the police identified in the judgment were harassment, failure to register a case, failure to add appropriate penal provisions to an FIR, failure to record a cross-version, failure to arrest those nominated in an FIR, seeking transfer of investigation and failure to submit a challan within reasonable time.
Different units will work in coordination with each other within their assigned domains: the Internal Affairs Branch (IAB) at the Central Police Office (CPO), the Central Complaint Cell (CCC) at the CPO, Range Complaint Cells (RCC) at divisional levels, District Complaint Cells (DCC) at district levels and Human Rights Cells (HRC) at the CPO and district levels.
The IAB will report to the provincial police chief through the Additional IGP supervising the CCC. This branch will deal with complaints of serious misconduct and corruption. This office will only deal with the complaints assigned to them by the IGP or the Addl IGP, which they will assign to the supervisory officer of the complaint & internal affairs cell.
The Internal Affairs & Vigilance Branch will be headed by a DIG, who will be assisted by a panel of 10 designated officers of SSP or SP ranks for assigning inquiries. The branch will be staffed with a DSP, who will report to the DIG of IAB. It will conduct field inspections and support the IAB with its findings of ground verifications and inspections.
The CCC will work under the supervision of the IGP. An Addl IGP will oversee the working of the cell on behalf of Sindh police chief. It will be headed by an officer of the rank of AIG (SSP) and assisted by two DSPs: one for the Direct Complaints Section and the other for the Referred Complaints Section. It will have branches at range level.
An SP will head the RCC and will report to the CPO directly. These complaint cells will be provided with sufficient staff to handle the complaints and to ensure their effective follow-up. No officer posted in the complaint cell will be dealing with more than 20 complaints a day.
Every range will have an RCC headed by an SP, who will report to the AIG Complaints at the CPO. They will serve as the CPO’s tentacles at the range level and carry out effective liaison between the CPO and field formations.
Every district will have a DCC headed by an SP, or a DSP if an SP is unavailable. The head of the DCC will report directly to the relevant district police officer. The cell will ordinarily deal with complaints of police inaction, excesses, unprofessional handling of cases, misbehaviour and other miscellaneous complaints.
A number of complaints that end up taking precious time of higher judicial forums relate to the violations of human rights. To effectively redress these grievances, HRCs will be established. They will be headed by the AIG Complaints, and in each district they will be headed by the SP of the DCC.
These cells will deal with the complaints and issues related to the infringement of human rights. An HRC will have separate desks dealing with violence against women, child rights, bonded labour and other human rights issues. These cells will receive complaints from complaints cells, media reports, courts and civil society organisations, or the victims directly.
The complaints will be handled promptly, and a follow-up will be maintained to monitor progress, final disposal, consequent actions required and communication with the stakeholders. A dedicated phone helpline and SMS short code will be created for this.
Once a complaint is received, it will be given a number and assigned to one of the inquiry officers. At this stage the complainant or the referring forum will be sent acknowledgement of the receipt of the complaint and the initial action taken on it. Anonymous complaints will be treated with caution to avoid unnecessary action on complaints made with ulterior motives.
When the probe has been conducted, the findings will be placed before the supervisory officer of the cell. They will point out the actionable findings and communicate to the relevant officers for taking action if required.
If the findings are against police officers, they will be communicated those observations and given a fair chance to defend themselves. The observations will be placed before the designated Addl IGP for sending it to the competent authority for initiating departmental proceedings.
Where the findings pertain to specific action by the police, they will be communicated to the local police responsible for providing the requisite services to the complainant or victim.
In cases where a complainant keeps sending the same complaint to different forums and the complaint has already been probed and filed, duplication of effort will be avoided by not ordering re-inquiry, unless there are strong grounds for it.
Channels to report
Channels to report complaints will allow all potential complainants to report their grievances. These may include but will not be limited to applications, emails, online and offline reporting tools, the 9110 helpline, personal conversations and walk-in applicants, the 9110 SMS code and mobile apps such as WhatsApp.
Disposal and reporting
Once a complaint is solved or corrective actions taken and communicated to the complainant, a comprehensive report will be sent to the IGP Complaint Cell for the closure of the complaint.
No complaint will be kept pending by the unit for an unlimited period and will be reported back after finalisation at the earliest possible time. The maximum time for review, analysis and finalisation of the complaint is not more than seven days.
The receiving unit will revert back to the IGP Complaint Cell for any extension in time beyond seven days mentioning the reasons for delay and the justification for such an extension in time.