Representational image. A file photo of a Punjab Police officer in Jalandhar. | Photo: ANI
Representational image. A file photo of a Punjab Police officer in Jalandhar. | Photo: ANI
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Chandigarh: Punjab has decided to draw civilians as domain experts in a separate wing under the investigation bureau of its police force as it believes this will improve the quality of probes by the state police.

It will be India’s first state to employ civilians as experts in its police force.

Under this plan, nearly 800 experts in IT/digital, legal, forensics and finance will be taken on board. This plainclothes civilian support staff will be deployed with the Punjab Investigation Bureau, the special Punjab Police wing created five years ago.

These experts will join at a particular level in the force, with a similar promotion mechanism, and remuneration and allowances as other government employees. However, they will not hold any hierarchical positions, said a senior officer of the bureau, adding that the modalities are still being worked out.

This is part of the bureau’s restructuring process, which the state cabinet approved on 15 July.

‘We feel the need for experts’

Additional Director General of Police Arpit Shukla, chief of the investigation bureau, said his department has been feeling the need for specialists in cracking crimes, who are otherwise not hired in the police force, which is an agency to maintain law and order.

The move comes in the wake of the fast-changing nature of crimes the police is dealing with. “Apart from the usual kind of crimes that are happening, serious crimes are taking place in the cyber world, the financial world, scams, misappropriation of funds,” said a senior police officer in Shukla’s team, who didn’t wish to be named.

“We need legal experts, accountants who can understand company laws, cyber experts, IT experts and forensic experts,” said the officer.

“Usually, while investigating a crime, when we feel the need for an expert or specialist, we request somebody, mostly a civilian, to get associated with us and help us with it. This was an informal system but had several other problems including secrecy, trust etc. It was then decided that domain experts must be hired into the police force,” he added.

These experts will be employed in the police force but won’t hold any hierarchical ranks.

“They would be government employees and will join at a particular level into the police force. They will have similar ways of promotion as other government employees with similar remuneration and allowances,” said Shukla.

“The modalities of the positions that are going to be taken in, or salary scales etc are still being worked out. We have sent a proposal to the government regarding this and are awaiting a reply,” he added.

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The restructuring

The hiring of civilian experts is part of a larger restructuring process that has been undertaken in the police department. Over 4,200 posts, including the 800 mentioned above, have been sanctioned across different ranks and positions to boost the functioning of the Punjab Investigation Bureau.

The bureau was set up in 2015 as part of a package of reforms laid down by the Supreme Court in the landmark Prakash Singh case, which paved way for structural changes in the police forces across the country. The bureau deals with five types of serious criminal cases — homicide and forensic, crime against women and children, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (NDPS), special crime, and economic offences & cyber crime.

“These constitute around 14-15 per cent of the state’s total crime. The basic idea behind creating a bureau of investigation was to separate the investigative duties of the police from law and order duties,” said Shukla.

“The system that we had in place, as also many other states in the country, was that the same police force is involved in investigating crimes which is intrinsically a specialised job and is also involved in the maintenance of law and order,” he said.

“The old system was flawed because the police never gathered the specialisation to do either,” Shukla added.

He said when the agency was created it was supposed to have its own cadre of officers and subordinate staff.

“However, while the bureau has been working on solving crimes assigned to it, dedicated staff at all levels and ranks was missing. Staff was being drawn on deputation from the police. The concept of the bureau being a watertight compartment did not materialise fully,” he said.

“When you have policemen and officers moving between the compartments of investigation and law and order, you are not able to create special experts on anything. Now, apart from officer level cops who are already dedicatedly working for the bureau, there will be a complete range of policemen starting from the post of a constable working only under the bureau,” he said.

No extra burden

According to the Punjab Police, the restructuring will enable the investigation bureau to make direct recruitment in the ranks of sub-inspectors/head constables and constables. This will happen in a revenue-neutral manner by abolishing 4,849 existing posts, ensuring there is no additional financial burden on the state exchequer.

These recruitments will be made after taking out these posts from the purview of the Subordinate Service Selection Board and handing them to the Police Recruitment Board.

“The target is to transform the bureau to have a solid set of policemen who would gain enough knowledge and experience to specialise in crime investigations as they rise through the hierarchy supported by an expert civilian staff,” added Shukla.

Also read: Hyperlocal social media news outlets banned in 7 Haryana districts now over Covid ‘rumours’


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