Reams of papers have been wasted on exposing the anachronism of the ‘Orderly System’ and misuse of vehicles by the police department for decades. A few judges also tried to bell the untamable police cat in vain. Justice Kirubakaran made some high decibel noises. The then DGP TK Rajendran, took the court for a ride by filing a NIL report on the orderly menace.
Recently Justice SM Subramaniam of the Madras High Court took this issue up and issued some orders. He too was taken for a ride. In his interim order dated 12th August 2022, Justice SM Subramaniam observed as follows.
This Court is aware of the fact that large number of uniformed Police personnels are still performing household and menial works in the residences of the higher Police officials and the instructions issued by the Government at the first instance in Letter No.37131/Police X/2022-2, dated 16.06.2022, has not been followed scrupulously by the Police department. The Director General of Police, except by issuing memorandum, has not ensured that the uniformed Police personnels are withdrawn from the residences of the Police officials.
Mere communication and inter-departmental communications are insufficient. Implementation of the orders of the Government is of paramount importance. Once the Government issued an order, it is needless to state that the Police department has to follow it scrupulously, failing which, they are liable to be prosecuted under the Service Rules. The effective administrative control of the Government departments is the Constitutional mandate.
We, the people of India, are celebrating 75th year of Independence. It is painful to pen down that the colonial slavery system of extracting household and menial works in the residences of the higher Police officials are still prevailing in the State of Tamil Nadu. It is a slap on the Constitution and the Democracy of our great Nation. When we are progressing towards vibrant democracy, the higher Police officials in the State of Tamil Nadu are following the colonial slavery system of extracting household and menial works from the trained uniformed Police personnels. It is an issue to be considered seriously. Such uniformed trained Police personnels are performing the household and menial jobs in the residences of the higher officials at the cost of the tax payers’ funds. Public has a right to question the mindset of the higher officials.
Indian Constitution, its spirit, philosophy and ethos declares that every citizen of our great Nation is a “Queen or King”. No public servant can imagine or live in a world of Mughal emperors and all such authorities under the Constitution are ‘public servants’ and they are bound to serve the public in accordance with the principles laid down in the Constitution and as per the Statutes and Rules enacted by the Parliament and the State Legislature. It is needless to state that indisciplined higher Police officials lose their morale in enforcing discipline in uniformed forces, more so,against their subordinate officials.
The Government of Tamil Nadu, pursuant to the Nationwide decision taken in the Hon’ble Chief Minister’s conference, abolished the Orderly System on 05.09.1979 in G.O. (Ms.) No.2231 and unfortunately, even after abolition, the practice is in force, despite the fact that the Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department, issued a clear mandate, through his letter dated 16.06.2022, pursuant to the directions of this Court. When the Government Orders are not followed scrupulously in its letter and spirit, an inference is to be drawn that higher Police officials are not functioning under the effective administrative control of the Government.
Thus, the following questions arise:-
(1)Whether the Government Order issued in order dated 16.06.2022 in the matter of abuse of Police force in the name of Orderly in the residences of the higher officials are completely withdrawn or not?
(2) Whether the illegal occupation of the Government accommodation by the higher Police officials have been dealt with or not?
(3) Whether the usage of black films in the vehicles of the higher officials are completely banned or not?
(4) Whether the misuse of department’s name in private vehicles are removed or not?
Following the interim order, Home Secretary issued instructions to DGP.
“I am to request you to issue suitable instructions to all the officers under your control to strictly follow the instructions issued in this regard, under intimation to Government and also to report the progress in implementing the instruction within 4 weeks.”
DGP reported compliance to the court. In his counter affidavit, TN DGP said,
“When a Government official is appointed to discharge public duty, it is not proper to use his services for private work in the residence of senior police officers. Hence, in order to comply with the orders of the Hon’ble High Court the following steps have been taken.
(i) In this regard I have issued a circular in C.No 192/DGP(HoPF)/TN/Camp/2022 dated 01.07.2022 with instructions for restructuring of units as follows:-
“In order to improve the efficiency of delivery of police services, it is necessary that maximum number of police personnel are utilized in the core police work and the number of Police personnel on support functions be kept at a minimum level.
At present, many police personnel are serving in various Units as drivers and support staff on Other Duty basis. While it is essential that adequate drivers are available for driving the vehicles, keeping them on Other Duty basis is not a healthy practice in human resources management.
Therefore, the Unit officers are requested to assess the strength needed for drivers and other support functions and send proposal for increasing the sanctioned strength with proper justification in the format enclosed. The additional strength required can be made available through redeployment of posts from other units.
After the completion of redeployment exercise, requests for posting Police personnel on Other Duty basis in any unit will not be entertained. Only in exceptional circumstances, such as investigation of sensitive cases etc., additional man power will be made available on temporary basis for a short period after the approval of the Competent Authority.
All unit officers, especially the Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai Police and Additional Director General of Police, Armed Police are requested to adhere to the above instructions without any deviation.
(iv) To implement the orders of the Hon’ble High Court in letter and spirit, a detailed audit of Police personnel attached to the Senior Officers for performing official duties as mentioned above was undertaken to ascertain whether there is any misuse of these Police personnel for household work. Wherever it was seen that excess Police personnel have been attached to Senior Officers who could have been utilized for domestic work,they have been withdrawn and asked to report to their Parent Unit for Executive work. 430 Police personnel were withdrawn in the above exercise.
(v) Further, black films in 578 nos. of Police vehicles and POLICE’ boards / Stickers in 8907 nos. of private vehicles were removed so far. This drive is being continued throughout the State to remove black films in Police vehicles and ‘POLICE’ boards / Stickers in private vehicles including Two Wheelers.”
This sounds good. There is improvement in the orderly system and also regarding misuse of vehicles.
Chennai City’s Commissioner of Police Shankar Jiwal had 9 men working at his house. Of them 4 have been sent back. Prison DGP Sunil Kumar IPS had 29 people. It has been shaved to half as per sources. Most of the men / women working in retired officers home have been withdrawn. The 430 police personnel that TN DGP says have been withdrawn are mostly from retired officers. Details of the orderlies still used by serving officers will be done another time.
Let us now come to vehicle misuse. Justice SM Subramaniam of the Madras High Court in his final orders in the orderly case, issued the following instructions.
Based on the counter-affidavit filed by the fourth respondent and the respective undertakings furnished by the Police Officials, the respondents 1 to 4 are directed to ensure that the practice of orderly system stands eradicated in entirety in accordance with G.O.Ms.No.2231, Home (Police-VI) Department, dated 05.09.1979. The said exercise shall be done within a period of four months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
Home Secretary, DGP, ADGP Welfare and Commissioner of Police, Chennai City, are directed to withdraw the orderlies if deputed to the residence of the retired officials immediately as it amounts to an illegality and in violation of law.
They are directed to conduct an enquiry, in the event of receiving any complaint or information as regard to the misconducts or offences from any person and initiate all appropriate actions under the relevant law and under the Discipline and Appeal Rules, as the case may be.
Even before the order of the Court, a complaint by the author demanding a comprehensive probe by the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, Chennai was sent to the Home Secretary, DGP and the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption. As per the direction of the Court, action have to be taken, else, a contempt petition or a fresh WP can be moved.
Now, as a real ray of hope, Head of Police Force (HoPF) Sylendera Babu, has on 27.08.2022 issued a circular to all units to strictly follow the High Court’s instructions.
There is some happy news at the vehicle misuse end also. In all police units, a fuel ceiling is fixed by the concerned Unit heads. For example, in the DVAC, 180 litres of fuel is fixed per month per vehicle. Seldom this instructions is followed, particularly for vehicles used at the residence of officers.
At month end, or in some cases in the first week of the month, a demand for ‘extra quota’ of fuel is sent to the vehicle controlling officer. An IPS officer has drawn 450 litres per month which is a record even today.
If vehicles used by officers’ wives to visit beauty parlours, shopping malls, entertainment parks, friends and family alone are withdrawn, lakhs of rupees may be saved to the exchequer and field officers may get more vehicles for real police duty.
Additional DGP, Headquarters G. Venkatraman IPS, who is one of the rare breed of officers who neither uses orderly nor misuses vehicle has issued a circular to all units to the following effect. This circular has been accessed exclusively by us.
The fuel ceiling fixed for every vehicle should be strictly adhered to. Extra quota will not be given at any cost, and if any officer is found to use fuel beyond the limit, the cost of such excess fuel will be recovered from the officers concerned, says the circular.
This is a small victory against the century old practice. As discussed above, there is improvement in curbing this anachronism to certain extent.
Still government vehicles including from TN Raj Bhavan drop kids in posh schools. However, those days may not extend for long.
With the judiciary’s indulgence, days are not far, when GPS systems will be fixed in all government vehicles and the blatant misuse is brought to an end.
This state is greatly indebted to Justice SM Subramaniam, who was earnest to put an end to this menace.