New Delhi: People in Delhi are paying taxes but "are they getting safety in return" was a question put to the Centre and police by the Delhi High Court which today also asked why the Union government has a "step-motherly" attitude towards the national capital.
"You (the Centre) are taxing people for the money, it is not coming out of your pockets. Everyone is paying... but are they getting safety in return?" the court said and added, "Don't know why the Centre is not interested in better policing in Delhi. Why this step-motherly attitude?"
The posers came from a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva after Delhi Police told the court that its initial requirement was 64,000 personnel, but the Centre forced them to cut it down due to which it has now "dwindled" to around 14,000. The court too observed that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had okayed the proposal for around 14,000 additional cops, but the Ministry of Finance (MoF) has "stonewalled" it and asked the Centre whether the problem was "lack of funds".
"If MHA has okayed it, it is for MoF to find the money," it said, while terming as "unacceptable" the Finance Ministry's view whether additional manpower was necessary and would advancement in technology suffice.
It also asked what was the required 'people to police ratio' and said it wants proper answers and exact figures on January 27, the next date of hearing.
Delhi government standing counsel Rahul Mehra contended that the problem was "lack of intent" and not money, adding that cost should not be a factor where life and liberty was concerned.
He said that the Centre does not want to spend around Rs 450 crore on setting up CCTVs, and won't let the Delhi government to set up the cameras at Rs 20 crore. "If they (the Centre) can't administer Delhi Police or doesn't have the intent, then they should let go of control.
Break the shackles. We are committed and duty bound to do it," Mehra said.
During the hearing, the bench observed it had initiated the process to increase manpower of Delhi Police three years ago.
"However, the Centre's attitude has been quite dismal. It does not matter whether it was this government or the previous one," it said. The court said that Rs 450 crore for setting up CCTVs was less than the cost of building a mall and observed that human life appears to be cheap.
It suggested to Delhi Police to "not be in tandem" with the Centre on this issue and to instead "function independently".
The bench said Delhi Police has to be "more aggressive" in its approach to this problem and added, "If you go along with the Centre nothing will happen."
"This is an important issue, but we think it is being taken too lightly," the court said.
Senior advocate Chetan Sharma and Special Public Prosecutor Shailendra Babbar, appearing for Delhi Police, assured the court that they would independently look into the issue.
The Centre had recently filed an affidavit indicating that it has sanctioned 4,227 posts in Delhi Police for the purpose of separating criminal investigation from maintaining law and order.
The Centre had said these posts would be operationalised in two phases, half in 2016-17 and rest in 2017-18 after a review of the scheme.
The court had made it clear that these additional personnel, once recruited, would be used for crime investigation only.
It had earlier also expressed annoyance at the Centre's delay in sanctioning additional police for the city.
The court was hearing a PIL initiated by it after the December 16, 2012 gangrape incident in which it has been giving directions on the issues of appointing more police personnel, setting up additional forensic labs and a victim compensation fund.