March 29, 2023 10:48 pm

“There’s a sucker born each minute.” This aphorism is an eternal truth, although its antecedents are obscure. (P T Barnum, the showman, may perhaps have been adept in the practice, but there is no proof he mentioned it, regardless of the attribution.) In a current scam, 28 males from Tamil Nadu succumbed to temptation. On paying exorbitant sums, they have been promised assorted jobs in Indian Railways and have been subjected to fake coaching for a month. This coaching consisted of getting stationed at New Delhi railway station, exactly where they counted the quantity of trains that passed by means of distinctive platforms. In spite of most getting engineering graduates, they didn’t smell a rat and offered the variable high-quality of engineering graduates, in all probability believed they have been getting tested for numeracy.

This bizarre scam is matched by 1 from Ludhiana. A particular person posed as the Central Commandant of Crime and Criminal Tracking Network Systems (CCTNS). Acting as CCTNS officials, he and other scamsters extracted dollars from gullible young males, who have been issued fake IDs, promising them jobs as investigating officers in CCTNS. Cheating, forgery, impersonation and other crimes — 1 will now be capable to search for the scamsters on CCTNS. CCTNS has been a function in progress for some time, with earlier initiatives like Crime and Criminals Info Technique (CCIS) and Widespread Integrated Police Application (CIPA) as precursors. Amongst precursors, there are some state-certain initiatives also.

CCTNS feeds into the Interoperable Criminal Justice Technique (ICJS). The latter covers e-courts, e-prisons, forensics and prosecution, leveraging technologies to make criminal justice delivery extra effective. Other than a national database of crime and criminals, CCTNS connects police stations and digitises FIR registration, investigation and charge sheets. In a broader sense, this is about superior e-governance.

The criminal justice program is meant to be a deterrent against crime, punishing mala fide (and criminal) acts and guarding the bona fide. If a crime is committed, this demands (a) investigation (b) FIR (c) a charge-sheet (d) prosecution and (e) productive conviction. Of these 5, the final two have to do with ICJS and the way courts function. But the other 3 hyperlinks have to do with the police. There are weaknesses in every single hyperlink and prices differ, based on the state and the nature of crime. Figures are also a function of the year. Roughly, for IPC (Indian Penal Code) crimes, investigation prices are about 65 per cent. An investigation need to have not necessarily lead to an FIR or charge-sheet, but what takes place to the remaining 35 per cent? The Northeast has other troubles. For the rest, if the investigation price can be extra than 95 per cent in Gujarat, why is it just about 45 per cent in Jharkhand? Charge-sheeting prices (as percentage of circumstances investigated) also differ broadly across states. For IPC crimes, the all-India typical is just more than 72 per cent. But, it can be more than 90 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala and West Bengal, though it is significantly less than 40 per cent in Assam.

For tax purposes, India is now 1 nation, or will be, when all indirect taxes develop into component of GST. The criminal justice systems ought to also be standardised, harmonised and integrated. Soon after all, a citizen ought to be entitled to the exact same level of law and order, regardless of residence. CCTNS is made to obtain that. There are about 17,000 police stations and extra than 97 per cent (a slightly old figure, it may perhaps be larger now) have CCTNS computer software and connectivity. What does 1 do with this? Digitise information, guarantee information migration, feed FIR registration into CCTNS, launch citizen portals and so on. These are desirable objectives. Nonetheless, just as prefixing the letter “e” in e-governance does not automatically increase governance, the CCTNS tool facilitates, but does not automatically increase police overall performance.

The Ministry of Property Affairs does an annual ranking of police stations, primarily based on objective information (with an 80 per cent weight) and a survey-primarily based assessment (with 20 per cent weight). In 2022, Aska in Ganjam (Odisha) was ranked the finest police station. CCTNS does not enter the ranking straight, although indirectly, it does. The brief-listing for a state (UT) is performed on the basis of CCTNS. If CCTNS is not utilized, there is no likelihood of getting brief-listed. This is for police stations. Across states, there is a separate Pragati dashboard on distinctive elements of CCTNS – infrastructure, manpower and use of the database. As a result, 97 per cent of police stations may perhaps have been connected to CCTNS, but the figure is 77 per cent for West Bengal (as of January 2022). Zero per cent of legacy information has migrated in Bihar.

There are causes for this variation amongst states – beneath-staffing (each vacancies and filling of vacancies) getting 1. Each police and prisons are in the State List of Seventh Schedule. In 2016, the MHA brought out a model prison manual. Several states haven’t adopted this and have not updated their old prison manuals. What will e-Prisons obtain? For that matter, shouldn’t prisoners have access to Aadhaar, for enrolment and upgradation? That tends to make prison administration much easier. Of course, Aadhaar can not be produced mandatory, due to the fact getting a prisoner can not be interpreted as getting a recipient of government welfare added benefits. Nonetheless, even when it is not mandatory, authentication by means of the voluntary use of Aadhaar has taken off in assorted solutions. Much more broadly, the agenda of police reforms has been stuck for years. Like the model prison manual, nothing at all a lot emerged by means of Model Police Acts (Bills). We are far away from the principles of 1 nation – “one police” and “one prison”. In this aspect of governance, if states belong to two distinctive worlds, no matter how excellent a tool CCTNS is, the added benefits will fall brief.

The writer is chairman, Financial Advisory Council to the PM. Views are private

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