The Commissionerate… !
By Maxwell Pereira

A key issue highlighted by Police Commissioner Radhey Shyam Gupta during his annual press conference on Monday, January 5 was about the Delhi Police Commissionerate completing the Silver Jubilee of its existence successfully and with aplomb. Of how over the past 25 years since its introduction on 1st July 1978 it has stood the test of time, having geared itself over these years to effectively shoulder the responsibility of combating the Herculean task of crime and law and order control, to make Delhi a safe place for its residents.

The key to this successful deployment of the police as a social service institution reflecting the aspirations of the people, he said, lies in the proper handling of the complex police community relations and in the pursuit of sound professionalism. He emphasised that under the Commissioner System of policing, the entire Delhi Police force could devote itself further for the needed police–community interface, making significant strides towards strengthening these relations. Also that Delhi Police over these years devoted itself to the task of redressing the public grievances effectively, of maintaining law and order, while ensuring proper crime control – despite having to stretch itself and its resources beyond limits. That the Commissionerate system has enabled Delhi Police to be an effective police force in a fast growing metropolis, constantly upgrading its resources while honing its skills and services to match the ever growing expectations of the people.

While talking of the Commissionerate, perhaps it may interest one to know that for a brief spell soon after the sepoy mutiny of 1857 (or the first war of Indian Independence as some would want to term it), when organised policing was sought to be established by the British with the adoption of the Indian Police Act of 1861, Delhi enjoyed a Commissionerate. It remained, through, a unit of the Punjab Police, even after Delhi became the capital of India in 1912. In the same year, the first Chief Commissioner of Delhi was appointed and vested with the powers and functions of the Inspector General of Police.

The 1912 gazette reveals that the Delhi district was under the control of a DIG of Police with Headquarters at Ambala. There was a Superintendent and a Deputy Superintendent of Police to command the police force in the Delhi District with a total composition of 12 Inspectors, 27 SIs, 110 HCs, 985 foot Constables and 28 Sawars. In addition, the rural police were under the command of two Inspectors with Headquarters at Sonepat and Ballabhgarh. Three Tehsils together had 10 Police Stations, with Larsoli, Sonepat and Rai under Sonepat Tehsil; Alipur Nangloi and Najafgarh under Delhi Tehsil; and Mehrauli, Faridabad, Ballabhgarh and Chansa under Ballabhgarh Tehsil. 1 SI, 2 HCs and 10 Foot Constables manned each Police Station.

The reorganisation of Delhi Police came in 1946 when its strength was almost doubled. In the wake of partition in 1947 and the resultant influx of refugee population and corresponding sharp increase in crime, the need for an independent set up for policing in Delhi was felt. It was on February 16, 1948 that the first Inspector General of Police of Delhi was appointed, with the total strength of Delhi Police raised to about 8000 by 1951. Initially there were eight Superintendents of Police to assist the I.G., but then a post of DIG was created in 1956. By 1961 the strength was raised to 12000 considering the rise in population.

1966 saw the constitution of the Delhi Police Commission headed by Justice G.D. Khosla, to go into the problems of Delhi Police. The Commission's recommendations resulted in the creation of four police districts -- North, Central, South and New Delhi. It was the Delhi Police Commission that recommended the introduction of the Police Commissioner system, eventually adopted in 1978 – a water shed year for Delhi Police. With the population of Delhi and its attending problems of policing multiplying during the years that followed, especially with the onset of terrorism in the country, and on the recommendations of the Srivastava Committee constituted in 1985 in the wake of the Indira Gandhi assassination riots, the strength of Delhi Police was gradually increased to over 53000, and then with subsequent interventions, to today’s strength of nearly 60,000. For policing Delhi now there are three Ranges, nine Districts and 126 Police Stations.

Delhi Police is today perhaps the largest Metropolitan Police force in the world, larger than that of Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. Even after Delhi attaining Statehood, the Police continue to function under the Lt. Governor of Delhi. The Commissionerate in its existence of 25 plus years can be said to have now truly attained its majority as I am chronicling this period gone by in 2004.

06.01.2004: Copyright © Maxwell Pereira: 750 words
Written and published in 2004 soon after the annual press conference of the Delhi Police Commissioner which covered and highlighted also the silver jubilee of the Commissionerate
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