August 26, 2016
SBP has issued a press release on the occasion of its press conference in Mumbai to release an Open Letter to Modi.
President of Swarna Bharat Party, Sanjay Sonawani, asks Mr Modi to substantially increase funding for the police and judiciary
Swarna Bharat Party, India’s only liberal party, held a press conference in Mumbai today. The conference was addressed by Mr Sanjay Sonawani, National President of the party.
He shared with the press a copy of the party’s open letter to Mr Modi, the Prime Minister of India. The letter asks Mr Modi to implement his own slogan of “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance” by doubling the funding for police and increasing by ten times the funding for the judiciary.
The people of India feel very unsafe today. They have also lost all faith in the judicial system. Women and Dalits have become soft targets for criminals. Communal, caste and Naxalite violence constantly erupts across the country.
Mr Sonawani said that the prime responsibility of a government is to ensure the safety of every citizen and ensure timely justice. But the law and order situation across India is bleak.
Mr Sonawani pointed out that that this situation is not the fault of our overworked police and judiciary. Our police and armed forces are for the most part heroes, often sacrificing their lives for the safety and welfare of the people. Indeed, because of their high work-load, exhausting working hours, and almost no holidays, health (including mental health) issues in the police have reached alarming levels. And our judges are doing o their best within the grossly underfunded system in which they work.
The real problem, Mr Sonawani said, is that our governments prefer to do other things than govern. The government likes running businesses and hotels instead of funding the police and judiciary.
The party’s open letter to the Prime Minister of India demands increased funding for the police and judiciary to be announced by 26th September 2016. The letter demands total accountability of all branches of government. The people want results, not money to be thrown into a well.
This will improve safety and justice. Mr Sonawani said that in a country where rule of law is supreme, the numerous communal riots and state-supported pogroms would never have happened. In a country where the police and judiciary are functional, people would never be targeted and killed for belonging to a particular religion, neither would caste massacres occur. Even the sensitive areas of the country, the Northeast, Jammu & Kashmir, and the Red Corridor would never be ravaged by insurgencies, as people would be free and secure, and would have no reason to revolt and pick up arms.
In its open letter, SBP has also demanded that Mr Modi implement all the reforms detailed in the party’s manifesto. Key reforms include the state funding of elections on a per vote basis, abolition of guaranteed tenure at all senior levels, and strong support for the defence forces. Mr Sonawani explained that only through such reforms can India become a great nation.
Mr Sonawani said that SBP will consider starting a nationwide movement for good governance from the 2nd of October 2016, if its demands are not immediately met by the Prime Minister. He invited all well-wishers of India to write to Mr Modi to implement these demands.
From where will the funds come?
Mr Sonawani said that SBP is a fiscally responsible party and does not make such demands lightly. He said that the reality is that while government cries that there are not enough funds, the government finds enough money to operate public sector enterprises. The Modi government perhaps thinks of itself as a business conglomerate. Why else is it running hotels, airlines, ports, mines, banks and insurance companies?
Even considering only the central government’s non-financial companies, the government investment is about ten lakh, ninety six thousand crore rupees, with capital invested being two lakh, thirteen thousand crore rupees. There are 298 such companies out of which about 77 are loss-making and their loss stands Rs. 27,360 crores for the financial year 2014-15. Accrued losses are probably in the lakhs of crores of rupees.
In its letter, SBP has asked Mr Modi that both central and State governments should immediately divest all government enterprises, thus making huge savings in resources – that can then be deployed on core duties. Regulatory approaches can be used for divested PSEs that the government believes need to be more closely monitored. Alternatively, the government can hire a managing firm that ensures all requirements for certain essential PSEs.
Mr Sonawani reminded the Prime Minister that during his election campaign he repeatedly changed the slogan about “Minimum Government, Maximum Governance”. He said he wants a small government with maximum governance. SBP is merely asking the PM to act on his own statements. Unless he meant to lie to the country.
The open letter to Mr Modi contains supporting data. The pathetic ground reality of the police and judiciary can be seen from the following statistics.
India has only 182 sanctioned police personnel per lakh population, against the minimum requirement of 222 per lakh population as per UN standards (most developed countries have double this number). Out of the sanctioned force there are 24 per cent vacancies, thus reducing the actual strength to 147 police per lakh population.
Even this limited force is often deployed in security duties for VIPs and during festivals and agitations. There is not enough manpower left to conduct investigations to ensure convictions for crime, to issue fines for traffic and property offences, or to take preventative actions to curb violent crime. How can we blame the police when they avoid registering cases, given the huge build-up of backlogs? It is clear that the government dramatically increase police manpower and suitably train and equip them.
The police force also faces terrible working and living conditions. The condition of Police stations and chowkies is so bad, it is impossible to function properly. Vast amounts of funding are urgently needed to radically improve the condition of our dilapidated police stations and chowkies and to improve police training. The Police badly needs modern equipment and vehicles, bullet-proof jackets and arms.
Only 27 per cent of the police are provided with a satisfactory place to live. The health of the police is getting from bad to worse. Many have committed suicide because of psychological stress. The Maharashtra Government had declared a cashless health treatment scheme under Police Kutumb Arogya Yojana but the government failed to pay the bills, so most hospitals have closed down the scheme. SBP demands that every policeman should have access to a good, habitable residence, access to health facilities, and access to good education for their children – with immediate effect.
SBP has demanded that the Modi government announce an immediate increase in funding for the Police from Rs. 74, 258 crores per year to a minimum of Rs. 1,50,000 crores per year.
The judiciary is hardly in a better condition. In fact, it needs at least ten times more funding to clear the backlog and bring back a semblance of normalcy to the justice system.
Recently the Chief Justice TS Thakur was literally forced to cry at the impossibility of tackling 3 crore pending cases. This is a great shame for the country. And yet, the Modi government is busy running hotels.
About half a crore cases are pending in the High Courts and over 2 crore cases in the lower courts. Every day the number of cases is mounting. India has a strength of just 13 judges for every million population, whereas the minimum number of the judges for every million should be 50. The vacancies are also very high. Some time ago it was reported that there are 6 vacancies in the Supreme court, 446 in the High Courts and 4600 vacancies in the lower courts.
Presently only funding that is equivalent to around 0.02% of the GDP, is allocated to the judiciary. This should be urgently increased to 0.2% of GDP – i.e. by ten times.
SBP believes it is not enough to increase the number of judges. Proper court premises and workable court rooms are urgently needed. Many court premises are like godowns with bad ventilation and lack basic facilities like drinking water and toilets. Some judges have to sit in record rooms to conduct trials.
SBP’s letter asks the PM to dramatically reprioritise government functions and increase support for police and justice. These are the most essential governance tasks, to which he is simply not paying attention.
Mr Sonawani asked the people of India to send photographs of the deplorable conditions of the Police and judiciary. He also asked them to put pressure on Mr Modi to accept the party’s demands.
Notes for Editors
SBP is India’s only liberal party, committed to defending liberty and promoting prosperity.
Sanjay Sonawani (Pune), National President, +91 9860991205
Vishal Singh (Bengaluru), National Vice President, +91 9920613669
Alok Kumar Singh (Ghaziabad), National Joint Secretary and President, UP State unit, +91 9999755334