Court rap for cop funds

Calcutta High Court on Thursday asked the state police chief to submit accounts of the Rs 330 crore the Centre had granted after the 26/11 Mumbai siege to equip the force to deal with terror attacks.

The director-general of police will have to submit the accounts within two weeks.

Before passing the order, the division bench of Chief Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Joymalya Bagchi rapped the police which they said had "failed to pay enough attention to the highly sensitive issue".

"We often hear the government spends central funds on purposes other than what they are meant for. This court should know the central funds allocated to equip the police have been used properly," the chief justice said.

On March 18, 2012, the division bench headed by then Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar had ordered the state home secretary and the director-general of police to file a report stating details of how the funds had been spent.

On November 17, when the matter came up for hearing again before the bench headed by the present chief justice, the state failed to file the report and prayed for time. The court granted the prayer and directed it to file the report after four weeks.

The case, however, came up for hearing on Thursday but the state again failed to submit the report, despite the passage of more than eight weeks since the last hearing.

The chief justice reacted sharply to the lapse, saying: "Why is the government not paying enough attention to such a sensitive matter which involves lives of the people? People should be aware about their safety on roads, at home and workplaces."

After the 2008 terror strike on Mumbai that killed over 160 people, Howrah resident Yashwant Rakshit filed a public interest litigation seeking an order for the government to state the steps it had taken to ensure people's safety in Calcutta and Howrah.

Moving the petition, Rakshit's lawyer Subroto Mookherjee had claimed that the court should specifically ask the government to state what steps it had taken to protect students in schools. "Guardians feel tensed after sending their children to schools."

The prayer had prompted the high court to ask the police to deploy cops around schools during class hours.

Since then the court has passed several orders. On March 18 last year, Mookherjee had placed a document in the court which showed that the Centre had since 2008 allocated around Rs 330 crore to equip the police to tackle terror attacks.

"According to the central order, the police will have to purchase modern arms and ammunition for the protection of historic places, government offices and academic institutions. The court should ask the state to make it clear how it had spent the money," the lawyer submitted.

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