Nagpur: City police chief Amitesh Kumar on Friday issued a circular prohibiting on-duty cops from using cell phones at any ‘visible points’, whether they are managing traffic or deployed at nakabandis or fixed points or on guard duty. Though the motive is to make policing more effective and focused, the decision has triggered a debate too.
In order to facilitate communication, additional 50 walkie-talkies and wireless communication sets would be distributed to the cops. Kumar has also asked his administration to ensure the landline telephones at police chowkis and posts are in working condition so that any emergency messages can be received and conveyed to cops on the roads through patrolling riders and mobile vans.
Confirming the development, deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Vikram Sali said traffic cops have been asked not to keep cell phones with them while on duty. “If found flouting the order, disciplinary action would be initiated,” he said.
The Nagpur bench of Bombay high court had recently come down heavily on senior cops holding them responsible for deteriorating traffic scene in the city, but there was no express mention warranting the ban on use of cell phones. The high court’s observations came while hearing a suo motu PIL over rampant traffic violations.
Amicus curiae in the PIL, Shreerang Bhandarkar, said the CP’s decision was uncalled for.
Kumar said apart from the court’s observation, there have been numerous occasions when cops on crucial duties were asked to refrain from reckless use of mobile phones. “It is perturbing to see a violation taking place in front of a cop who is talking on the cell phone. We had discussed the issue at length with the officers before finally coming out with the decision,” he said.
The CP said a personnel who may have some personal or family emergency for a day or some period would be given office duties. “We would review practical implementation of the decision,” he said.
Former CP PKB Chakravorthy said overuse of cell phone by cops seems to be more due to social media. Objective of the ban is appreciable but implementing it could be challenging. “A better alternative is to ensure that cops keep the cell phones in flight mode or switched off. Action should be taken in case of violation. They can use phones in emergency,” he said.