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Fighting over a dead body

17 January 2006 No Comment
I wish to comment on the jurisdiction rules of Indian police and railway authorities. Recently I came across an interesting incident shown on a news channel.
In Amritsar, a man was found dead on the railway premises. Instead of finding the identity of the victim and informing the relatives the Punjab Railway police and the Punjab police bickered over taking possession of the dead body with each of them claiming that the body did not lie in their area of jurisdiction. After measuring with the tape, when they found that the body occupied exactly half the area of each side of their jurisdiction these ingenious authorities thought of a complete bizarre and barbaric solution to the problem. They decided to cut the body into half and take possession of the two parts of the body for completing the formalities. Fortunately, a sane and senior police official stepped in and prevented this atrocious plan to materialise. Eventually, the railway police took the charge of the body. Incidents like these abound in India.
Recently, it was distressing to see the policemen from Mahim and Shivaji Park police stations haggling over jurisdiction issues instead of saving the victims life. Few months ago an epileptic man collapsed on the Dadar station railway bridge. Instead of taking the man to the hospital the authorities of the Western and Central Railway argued about the jurisdiction. The man was completely ignored and eventually he died after struggling for life. Then there have been cases like in the Kala Ghoda area in Mumbai where the drug addicts take full advantage of these stupid rules. Whenever the police come to catch them the drug peddlers and drug addicts just walk over to the other side of the road, which is not the jurisdiction of the police who are after them.
Therefore the issue of jurisdiction plagues not only the railway authorities but also the Indian police. This has resulted in victims being ignored, the dead bodies lying unattended, the culprits going scot-free, the victims and their relatives suffering harassment as they have to hop from one police station to another to register their complaints.
The jurisdiction system was put in place to help the police in serving the public in a better way but it is causing inconvenience to citizens. There should be some flexibility in time of emergencies. Do the police turn a blind eye if they spot a person murdering someone or carrying out burglary just because the area of crime does not come under their jurisdiction? Do they abort their chase just because the criminal has crossed their area of jurisdiction? I don’t think so.
Therefore, if the police can carry out their duties without bothering about the jurisdiction in such instances then why not in all cases, particularly when a human life is at stake. The police and the railway authorities should have the authority to do their duty and prevent the crime even if the crime does not happen in their jurisdiction and they should look after the victim first instead of fighting over whether the incident happened in their area or not.

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