In Conversation
’If We Could Sign a Formal Treaty of Friendship with the Soviet Union in 1971, Why not an Informal Partnership With the US, in National Interest, Now?’
-Former home secretary, G.K. Pillai    

Former home secretary, G.K. Pillai 
While the Prime Minister has repeatedly said that Left-Wing Extremism is the biggest internal security threat, what according to you are the biggest internal security challenges in India?

To my mind, we have two big internal security challenges. The first is police reforms and ensuring that the police do what it is supposed to do. Police reform is a two-pronged programme. The first prong is merit-based recruitment. Even today, a substantial part of police recruitment takes place through mechanisms like bribes and not on merit or qualification. The second prong is police training. While the IPS officers undergo refreshers’ training throughout their career, for lower constabulary, the training is very limited. Today, with the kind of crimes that one encounters, for instance, cyber crimes, it is very important that the lower rungs of the police forces remain both conscious and trained as to how evidence needs to be collected or how the scene of crime has to be secured. There is a lot of involvement of technology today for which the police has to be prepared. One can do as much investigations as one likes, but unless these basics are in place, the cases will fall apart. Therefore, this training is going to be very critical. If you get this right, 50 per cent of your problems will be solved.

The other challenge is criminal justice reforms. Today, the conviction rate in the country is less than 10 per cent. If 90 per cent people are going to get away, then it won’t be far-fetched to believe that in the coming decades the biggest business is going to be crime. It is the easiest thing for people to do, whether it is shoplifting or murder; people’s aspirations are increasing. Poor investigation is only one aspect of low rate of conviction. More important reason is frequent adjournment of the cases. Most lawyers in the lower courts earn on the basis of appearances they make in a case. Adjournments serve them well. They help the accused too. But this harasses the witnesses who then find it easier to say that they didn’t see anything. Now that we are putting a time limit to public services like getting a passport etc, why can’t we put a time limit to civil criminal cases? Once criminals feel that they can get away with anything, it becomes an incentive to committing crimes. But once they fear that they will be punished, it will act as a deterrent.
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