Since Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s charge that police in the national capital were the “most corrupt”, Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi has countered by saying that a survey cited by the former was actually “flattering” for the force.
The police chief said, “After reading the survey thoroughly, I can go for a one-on-one debate with anybody regarding its findings. If the honourable chief minister allows, I can help him understand those findings.”
In an Exclusive interview to NewsX, Commissioner B.S. Bassi further expressed his views on the matter.
NewsX: The Delhi CM quoting a poll says Delhi police is the most corrupt. Why do you differ with the perception?
B.S. Bassi: I thing that the report needs to be read in totality; rather the reports need to be read by Honourable Shri Arvind Kejriwal, because when I came to know of this report, even I got the impression that things are not up-to the mark, though I didn’t get disheartened. I decided to intensify my efforts to reduce corruption in Delhi police. Then I decided to get the copy of the report. When I went through the report I found it very encouraging that people who have experienced corruption or those who perceived that the Delhi Police is corrupt, that number is going down.
I took over in 2013. In 2013, as per the report, 80% of the people who had interacted with Delhi Police had experienced corruption. This number in 2015 is 34%. Similarly, in 2013, the number of persons who perceived or thought Delhi Police is corrupt was 56%; this number has gone down to 39% in the year 2015. That shows my efforts are yielding results and the corruption level in Delhi Police is coming down.
NewsX: So you are saying CM Kejriwal is quoting from the poll selectively with an intent to discredit & malign?
B.S. Bassi: I won’t say he is quoting selectively, he also might have not read the report. So, I advise him to read the report or ask his Principal Secretary to read the report and give him the main points. The report is very encouraging, as far as we are concerned; it is showing that efforts are results. I believe corruption can be reduced if we make systemic changes. It shows our efforts.
NewsX: So you are saying Kejriwal is ill-advised or misinformed?
B.S. Bassi: No I am saying that Mr. Kejriwal might have seen only the news reports, he has not gone through the report. But if he goes through the report, he will find that Delhi Police in fact is the best performer as far as fighting corruption is concerned. From 80% to 34%, it was a mind boggling decline; from 56% to 39% it is a mind boggling decline.
NewsX: But you’ve turned the observation into a referendum on yourself, saying you would quit if the CM proves you are involved in corruption. Why this defensiveness?
B.S. Bassi: I am not saying defensiveness. When I made that statement your reporter was not there and you have perhaps seen some part of my statement. My statement is that I believe in making systemic change so that we make the process corruption safe, that there will be zero possibility of corruption in the process which are there in the functioning and a number of steps taken by us. And all those steps are path-breaking steps and they are the first of its kind measures anywhere in the world.
NewsX: But surely we should be working towards a zero corruption police force?
B.S. Bassi: Yes, that is why my effort has been to make systemic improvements and systemic improvements which are totally out of the box, and initiatives taken are first of its kind anywhere in the world. You see our lost report application, now you can lodge report on cell phone and as well as Internet and you get it digitally signed. This was the first of its kind in the world. Our e-FIR (in respect of Moto-Vehicles thefts) is also one of its kind application in anywhere in the world. Our issue of PCC (Police Clearance Certificate) required for immigration purposes is also one of its kind anywhere in the world.
NewsX: But Mr Bassi you’ve additionally ticked off the Delhi CM advising him to do his own work. Are you saying Mr Kejriwal has no right to ask questions?
B.S. Bassi: I have not ticked off anybody, I have only said that we are doing our job, and there is lot to be done by other organizations and honourable Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal happens to be in that fortunate position that he can make others work. It will be desirable if the Honourable CM concentrates on certain other organizations which are directly under his charter.
NewsX: This is your quote, “6 AAP ministers are facing a tough time fighting corruption, so they have a lot of work to do”. Why give unsolicited advice? How does it help the issue?
B.S. Bassi: It’s not a defensive reaction, it is a matter-of-fact statement. From 80% of the persons who interacted with
police, they said that they have experienced corruption. This number has gone down to 34%, so that means we know how to fight corruption within our own organization. I did mention and will again mention that Honourable CM obviously is finding it difficult to fight corruption, because out of six ministers, the Home Minster had to be dropped because he was indulging in corruption, so that means ensuring that people do not indulge in corruption is not an easy job. So I will advice anybody and everybody that a person should concentrate on matters which are within one’s own jurisdiction.
NewsX: So Mr Kejriwal is failing in his primary job of policing his own party MLAs and netas?
B.S. Bassi: I am not making any value judgement. I am saying we are very serious and concerned in curbing corruption in Delhi Police.
NewsX: Experts say that not moral lessons but punishment will stem rape. Of the 31,000 cases reported, in 13,000 chargesheets were filed and in only 146, punishments was awarded. This is a direct reflection on the Delhi police?
B.S. Bassi: Mr. Rahul see, Criminal Justice Administration system has three constituents—police, judiciary and jail. Police is one of the three, so we are doing our job, as far as other parts of Criminal Justice Administration systems are concerned. It will not be correct on my part to comment on them, but i can assure one thing, you said crèches will definitely make a difference, that unfortunate incident of Anand Vihar, that unfortunate mother, she is a maid who works in various houses, She had been leaving her five-year-old daughter and three year boy at home when she used to go for work at other people’s place and this was happening every day. So the five-year-old girl and three year old definitely were vulnerable not only to crime but even to the natural disasters or man-made disasters. If that lady had the option to put her child in a crèche, she would have done that. So working mothers and labourers will definitely prefer to keep their children in crèches rather leave them on roadside.
NewsX: So when CM says the police are to blame he is obfuscating?
B.S. Bassi: I am not saying that. I am saying that there is a lot to be done by all organs of the State, and as far as the police is concerned, we are doing everything possible. For instance to enhance the safety of women in the city, we have taken a number of steps; we have posted women officers in all police stations, we have increased the number of women help lines, posted women officers in PCR vanes, special deployment around school and colleges and identified dark stretches.
NewsX: Do you believe that the CM of a state who is elected directly by the people should have no control over the police force?
B.S. Bassi: Sir, this is a constitutional position under article 239. Delhi is a Union Territory; under article 239AA, public order, police and land are not within the domain of the State Legislative Assembly. Since the State Legislative Assembly does not have control over these three subjects, so these three subjects fall within the domain of the Indian Parliament. So instead of the Chief Minister of Delhi controlling these three subjects including police, it is the Parliament which controls these three subjects which includes police. To say that police is unaccountable is nothing but a lie.
NewsX: In all honesty, tell me sir, would it not be ideal if the police chief were to report to the CM?
B.S. Bassi: I am telling the truth, and the truth at times may appear bitter. My job is to tell the truth. My logo says
“Satyamev Jayate”; if some incorrect information is being disseminated, it is my responsibility as a Police Chief to give people the right information.
NewsX: So even in an ideal world you are saying that the police needn’t report to the CM?
B.S. Bassi: Delhi Police reporting to Honourable Lieutenant Governor and through LG to the Honourable Union Home Minister and HM is responsible to the Parliament of the country and through Parliament we are responsible to the people of this country. If in future, there happens to be a constitutional amendment and Delhi Police starts reporting to Delhi Chief Minister, it will be reporting to CM and through CM it will report to the Legislative Assembly, and through Legislative Assembly it will report to the people of Delhi. It will not be reporting to people who are walking on the streets or sitting in their homes. It will again be reporting to one individual.
NewsX: Conversely, it is perfectly ok then for the police to report to the L-G who is not directly elected by the people?
B.S. Bassi: Mr. Rahul, because you do not understand the constitutional position that it is why you are asking this question. Delhi Police is reporting to the Parliament. Honourable LG and HM, they are the intermediaries, but I report to the Parliament and through Parliament I report to the people of India.
NewsX: Are you under pressure Mr Bassi from the Centre to take on the Delhi chief minister?
B.S. Bassi: I have never been under any pressure. I am under no pressure and I shall not be under any pressure till the time I am serving.
NewsX: So the Minister of State for Home is backing you out of a sense of duty and obligation?
B.S. Bassi: If I am going to take the right stand, I expect support from those who are supervising my functioning.
NewsX: So the MoS Home is not backing you because he feels that doing so gives him an opportunity to target the Delhi govt?
B.S. Bassi: No, when I am doing the right things, obviously he will back me, but if I do the wrong things, they will not back me.