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NHRC seeks report from Centre, states on wellbeing of cops

IANS | November 15, 2023 03:43 PM

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Ministries of Health and Family Welfare as well as Home Affairs and Chief Secretaries of states and Union Territories to submit Action-Taken Reports (ATRs) within eight weeks in connection with measures taken by them to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of police personnel in their jurisdiction.

The NHRC’s move came while hearing a plea filed by human rights activist and lawyer Radhakanta Tripathy following the assassination of BJD heavyweight and then Health Minister, Naba Kishore Das by a police ASI.

“Governments across India have failed to ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of police personnel which resulted in suicides, murders and inefficiencies in different forms, ” Tripathy alleged in his petition.

The petitioner has also brought to the notice of the NHRC multiple instances where the policemen were found to be underperforming and their incompetence was showing in crime investigations and subsequent convictions.

Neither mental health, nor physical parameters are taken into account while assessing the performance of police officials, Tripathy said.

He asserted that vital aspects such as physical (Body Mass Index) and mental fitness are not recorded in the service book.

These aspects should be considered while giving promotions, increments or taking any departmental action against the police personnel, the petitioner noted.

“Section 21(4) of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 provides for inclusion of mental illness insurance cover and setting up of a dedicated helpline to counsel the police personnel. The provisions under the Act, however, are yet to materialise, ” Tripathy alleged.

The NHRC has also been urged to issue recommendations to the authorities for conducting a comprehensive physiological, psychometric and mental evaluation of all the police personnel periodically in order to detect suicidal tendencies among the men in khaki.

Tripathy requested the NHRC to constitute a committee for the assessment of the mental health of all police personnel and ensure measures for rehabilitation of the mentally-disturbed cops.

Earlier, the NHRC intervened in the issues raised by Tripathy regarding the mental health issues of armed and para-military forces.

The petition urges the NHRC to reduce long duty hours and ease the availability of leave to police officers so as to enable them to fulfil their family obligations.

“The steps must be taken by the governments to ensure an adequate workforce so that the duty hours are relaxed and the police officials are granted leave, ” the rights activist said.

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