The worrisome delinquency of law enforcement officials | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:37 PM, June 20, 2019

The worrisome delinquency of law enforcement officials

In recent times, offences and excesses committed by some police officials have become a matter of grave concern for the citizens as well as the controlling authorities. The media amongst others has been demonstrably forthright in pointing to the illegality of actions of officials and the ominous precedence being set in the process.

Take, for example, the arrogance and impertinence of DIG Police Mizan who, despite being withdrawn from active duty consequent upon accusations of malfeasance and moral turpitude and remaining subject to an inquiry by the Anti-Corruption Commission, continues to talk to the media, thus clearly violating the provisions of government servants’ conduct rules that prohibit him from such actions.

It needs to be understood that the media, quite clearly, is not the principal forum to brag about one’s innocence or victimhood as displayed by the above officer’s indiscretions. The deviant officer forgot that in offering bribe or illegal gratification to a public official during the course of an official inquiry, he was exposing himself to a criminal charge. The prime minister has pertinently pointed to the equal culpability of both the bribe offerer and the taker.

If indeed the officer under inquiry really wanted to trap the bribe-demanding officer, as has been claimed, it would be prudent and proper on his part to involve designated official agencies in this venture, bearing in mind that he is a suspect in a complaint of gross highhandedness and moral turpitude. In fact, as per disciplinary rules, when an official is found to be guilty of moral turpitude, the punishment mostly is dismissal from service. The gravity of the situation needs to be understood.

It needs to be stated here that while a proper investigation is expected to reveal the actual culpability of both the inquiry officer and the officer inquired upon, a worrying factor is the inordinately long time taken to conduct the inquiry. Since the subject matter of the inquiry pertains to a serious indiscretion of a highly placed law enforcement official, it is only proper that the matter is expeditiously disposed of. Quite clearly, a time length of six months was sufficient to complete the inquiry. Procrastination in such a scenario should not be expected.

Another concern relates to the serious offence allegedly committed by Police Inspector Moazzem, former officer-in-charge of Sonagazi Police Station, who thankfully has now been arrested by police though after some regretful delay. This officer’s inactions and omissions coupled with partial conduct led to the very cruel murder of a young girl. He has been made accused in a case under the Digital Security Act due to the proactive role of a lawyer of the Apex Court. The point to note here is that the delinquent officer’s illegal acts and indiscretions in harassing a young girl victim were no secret to the supervising police officials of Feni District Police.

In the above case, the senior police officials of Feni District utterly failed to take both administrative and legal actions. From facts and circumstances that have surfaced during the investigation of the murder case that has finally led to a charge sheet, it is clear that the accused officer-in-charge stood guilty of gross dereliction of statutory duty and was liable to be suspended as his continuance in office was no longer necessary in public interest.

It is pertinent to note that like the delay in conducting the ACC inquiry against DIG Mizan, there was an unfortunate delay in initiating action against Inspector Moazzem soon after the brutal murder of Nusrat despite the existence of credible evidence. The police department should have acted on its own volition, thereby proving their bona fide in promptly taking legal and administrative action. That the police organisation will, under no circumstances, act as a protective shield for its bad hats would have been aptly demonstrated if prompt action followed in time.

The delay in taking action against DIG Mizan also raises concern because he was withdrawn from active duty in public interest long before and, subsequently, the police headquarters reportedly sent the required report to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The ministry may wait for the ACC report on other allegations before taking action although there is no bar in taking disciplinary action against the concerned official should the police headquarters’ report contain materials warranting action.

It would appear that the ethos of public service has unfortunately been dented warranting corrective actions for ensuring good governance. What is needed is to make improvements in the quality of law enforcement a permanent and integrated part of the national agenda, regardless of which party is in power.

The misdeeds of a few officials cannot be a cause of embarrassment for a democratic government. Rather it is time to promptly demonstrate that the law is no respecter of rank or position and the degree of suffering should be much higher when lawmen resort to lawless actions.

Muhammad Nurul Huda is a former Inspector General of Police.

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