“My two children suffering from Diarrhea are warded at the hospital. I have no money. My wife is blaming me and inquiring whether I am coming home? I am now fed up with this job sir”.
This was what we overheard when we visited the Miscellaneous Complaints Section of a police station recently. The complainant was being made by a police Constable who was about 45 years. At the receiving end was the OIC of the Miscellaneous Complaints Section. Despite both his children warded in hospital he is unable to obtain leave. Added to that he hasn’t money to obtain the required medicine for his children.
Within the Sri Lanka Police posts from the position of the Police Security Assistant to the post of Inspector General of Police (IGP) are Police Security Assistant, Police Constable Driver, Police Constable, Police Sergeant, Senior Sergeant, Sub Inspector, Inspector, Chief Police Inspector, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Superintendent of Police, Senior Superintendent of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Senior Deputy Inspector General of Police and the Inspector General of Police.
Excluding the post of IGP, the authority which handles the appointments and disciplinary issues related to all other posts in accordance with the the 19th Amendment to the Constitution is the Police Commission. In terms of Special Gazette notification number 2016/6 dated 24th April 2017 the powers of the commission relating to certain subject matters of all police officers from Chief Inspector of Police downwards, excluding all OICs, have been vested with the IGP and Senior DIGs. This has been done by the National Police Commission itself for convenience sake.
Though this promotion procedure is documented its application is confined to a piece of writing and not implemented in a practical manner
In general the Sri Lanka Police recruits persons as Police Constables and Sub Inspectors and a limited number as Assistant Superintendents of Police, but these intakes exclude the recruiting of Police Constable Drivers. The recruitment and promotion criteria of the Sri Lanka police department are mentioned in the official Web Site of Sri Lanka Police. According to the website the promotion from the position of Police Constable to that of Sergeant is done by considering whether the individual has completed eight years of active and satisfactory service. Though this promotion procedure is documented its application is confined to a piece of writing and not implemented in a practical manner.
The Police Constable referred to in the introduction of this article had served the police in that capacity for well over twenty years, but has been denied of a promotion to the next grade.
There is much frustration among the rank and file of those below the grade of ASP due to the delay in the granting of promotions. For example most of those who join as Constables are promoted as Sergeants only close to retirement. They have no opportunities to go beyond this grade owing to delays regarding promotions in the constable grade. A person who joins Sri Lanka Police as a constable at the age of 20 would reach the age of 40 years by the time he gets promoted to the post of Sergeant. Most of them retire as sergeants. It is very seldom that they are able to get to the position of Sub Inspector. If an opportunity is afforded to the Police Constables to reach the grade of ASP through merit, the efficiency of Police officers would be more, a senior police officer pointed out. He also said that the salaries of these police officers had now been increased.
The issues bothering the Sub Inspectors are more severe than those serving in above grades. During the former Government the Sub Inspectors had been promoted to the grade of Inspector only after completing eight years of service. The last batch of promotions was in 2010.
The former Minister of Law and Order Sagala Rathnayake submitted a Cabinet Paper to grant promotions to 3029 Sub Inspectors who have completed more than eight years of service. This Cabinet Paper received the necessary approval. However two weeks ago steps were taken by the IGP to promote only 539 Sub Inspectors, among whom close to100 have already retired. There is another considerable number of Sub Inspectors expected to retire by the end of 2018. Despite these individuals holding the post of Sub Inspector over a long period this position had not been considered at the time promotions were made in the Department of Police. Everyone has been promoted with effect from 31st May 2016.
There is another group of Sub Inspectors numbering 2190 who have not received promotions. A Sub Inspector speaking to this newspaper expressed these views.
“I have been an SI for the past 13 years. In the STF promotions are granted duly. Those who joined Sri Lanka Police with me and later joined the STF are now IPs. We are still SIs. When they return to serve the Police after obtaining promotions they will be occupying senior positions. There are others who joined the Police much later, but they became members of the STF and obtained promotions. We’re not saying that those in the STF shouldn’t get promotions, but what we ask is to be treated the same and given early promotions like the others” the Sub Inspector said.
They said, “We passed the Advanced Level Examination and obtained very good results. We ignored the opportunities available outside and joined as Sub Inspectors and even after serving for 11 years we continue to remain in the same post without being promoted. We are stagnating in the same post for a over long period and feel that we are being looked down upon. There are many graduates among the Sub Inspectors. They too receive the same treatment and have become frustrated. This situation demoralizes those aspiring to join the Sri Lanka Police. If the IGP isn’t granting these promotions the Government should intervene and resolve this issue”.
It’s the minor Police officer who is called to bear the brunt of all this. Even taking a rupee as a bribe is a crime. It is often highlighted when a minor police officer’s arm is extended in acceptance when Rs100 or 200 is offered as a bribe. But this type of naming and shaming hardly happens when higher ranked Police officers accept bribes amounting to several hundred thousand rupees. There have been occasions when the Law has not been enforced in instances involving the latter.
It isn’t only the mini Police officers who are faced with issues regarding promotions. Senior Superintendent of Police Palitha Siriwardene who is in charge of Kilinochchi Division being denied a promotion was an issue and a subject matter that drew the attention of the entire police department.
Due to this news gaining momentum and the responses that were received, the predicament of the police officers and the level of the stress they are under became clear. The issue relating to Siriwardene has not seen an end.
With several DIG posts in the Sri Lanka Police falling vacant and the absence of Senior Superintendents of Police, who had completed five years of service, a decision was taken to appoint acting DIGs. Accordingly a request was made by the Law and Order Ministry to the Police Commission to appoint acting DIGs. This request was made as the National Police Commission had been entrusted with the functions relating to appointments above the grade of ASP and also because it is the disciplinary authority.
Following this the Ministry of Law and Order submitted the names of six Senior Superintendents of Police based on a seniority list to the National Police Commission in March this year. By this time one of these Senior Superintendents of police had retired. From among the other Senior Superintendents, appointing Siriwardene and Gamini Perera was opposed by the IGP.
SSP Gamini Perera had functioned in the North as a Divisional Officer in charge. On receiving a similar assignment he had appealed to the Police Commission and got the transfer cancelled.
IGP goes on a witch-hunt
SSP Siriwardene had been in charge of Kilinochchi Division. During a function held at the Kilinochchi District Secretariat, under the patronage of the IGP, the IGP had made a statement saying that Siriwardene would be transferred from Kilinochchi and not be assigned any duties. Siriwardene had then filed a case in the Supreme Court against the IGP stating that by making a public statement as above his fundamental rights have been infringed upon. The Supreme Court observed that decisions relating to police officials above the ASP grade are taken by the National Police Commission.
Thereafter the IGP directed the CID to hold an inquiry concerning Siriwardene. Siriwardene was later freed of the charges against him. Siriwardene again complained to the Police Commission that the IGP was attempting to take revenge on him by instructing the Police Special Investigation Unit to conduct another investigation.
Siriwardene was later freed of the charges against him. Siriwardene again complained to the Police Commission that the IGP was attempting to take revenge on him
However ignoring the IGPs objections the National Police Commission directed on 05th April 2018,
The Police Commission, whose attention was directed towards the charges made against Siriwardene, found that there was insufficient material to prove the charges made against Siriwardene. The Police Commission then took steps to appoint Siriwardene also as an Acting DIG. Even at the time of writing the IGP hadn’t issued the notice of this appointment. It is a serious matter if the IGP fails to act as per orders of an independent commission.
The most recent episode is the issue regarding SP Priyadharshana Herath, who was interdicted well over an year ago on a direction by the IGP. Herath has not been served with a charge sheet. If Herath has done something wrong he should be subjected to the legal procedure. Herath, who has remained under interdiction for over an year and not received even half his pay, was reinstated immediately following an order issued by the Police Commission in February this year. This order was given effect only in May this year. But he could perform duties only for about 20 days. Reviewing an incident that had taken place eight years ago and despite an admonition being served on him, the IGP took steps last week to interdict him once again.
These acts of discouragement have frustrated not only the ordinary police officers, but also those holding high ranks in the police. When these type of harassment and ill treatments continue those serving the Sri Lanka Police will suffer stress and other sorts of setbacks. This would in turn affect severely the maintenance of law and order in the island. Despite the shortcomings observed within the Sri Lanka Police the law enforcement officers have been able to live up to the standards required of them, except for a few individuals. Given that those having authority at the top in the Police having failed to live up to the expected standards and act diligently, no one knows the plight of the law enforcement officers in this country.
A senior officer of the Police Commission said,”According to the constitution we have the power to decide on all matters relating to all Police officers, excluding the IGP. If the IGP is disregarding our orders that amounts to an act of violating the constitution. SSP Palitha Siriwardene had been appointed as an Acting DIG by the National Police Commission. The IGP hasn’t issued the relevant notice in this regard. With regard to the issue relating to Superintendent of Police Priyadharshana Herath, we have not approved his interdiction. If the IGP has interdicted him that means he has usurped a power by which act he has gone against the constitution.