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The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea seeking better working conditions for Police Personnel including compensation by way of overtime wages.
A Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and V Ramasubramanian issued notice in a public interest litigation petition filed by activist Vijay Gopal seeking a direction from the Court to mandate payment of overtime wages to Police Personnel. The petition also prays that the Police Personnel be given one day off every week and their working hours be fixed at 48 hours a week.
Senior Advocate Vimlesh Kumar Shukla along with advocate Somanadri Goud Katam appeared for the petitioner.
The petition filed through advocate Somanadri Goud Katam avers that the provision under the Police Act that states that Police is always on duty, is misinterpreted by governments. This has led to the non-recognition of overtime hours worked by Police personnel. Section 22 of the Police Act states:
Police-officers always on duty and may be employed in, any part of district: Every police-officer shall, for all purposes in this Act contained, be considered to be always on duty, and may at any time be employed as a police-officer in any part of the general police-district.
State governments have framed rules and laws for Police personnel with Section 22 of the Police Act as the fulcrum in order to “exploit personnel” and have gotten away without having to pay overtime wages, the petition states.
“Even being on duty always does not restrict the police personnel’s entitlement to their Human Rights, working in humane conditions and their entitlement for overtime wages.”
The Police department is working at 39 percent strength and no efforts are being made to achieve 100 percent workforce, it is pointed out. The petitioner argues that this approach is a result of the fact that the Police Department is considered a non-revenue generating department.
Moreover, Police Personnel are barred from forming unions under the Police Forces (Restrictions of Rights) Act, 1966. This leaves them with no way of agitating for their rights or raising their voice against the exploitation meted out to them. The gap that exists in implementing the fundamental rights for the Police personnel needs to be filled by the Supreme Court.
Therefore, the petitioner has prayed that police personnel should be compensated with twice the amount of wages for overtime duty. Appropriate law or guidelines to this effect should be brought into force, the petitioner prays.
He has also prayed that Police Personnel be given one day off every week and their working hours be capped at 48 hours a week.
[Read the Petition]
[Read the Order]