Welcome address of DCBI on the occasion of 12th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture
(New Delhi - June 3, 2011)

  1. Hon'ble Minister of State for Personnel,
    Lord Blair, our Chief Guest
    Union Home Secretary
    Secretary Personnel
    Special Director, CBI
    Additional Director, CBI
    Lady Blair
    Former Directors, CBI
    Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

              It is an honour and privilege for me to extend a very warm welcome to each one of you today on the occasion of the 12th D.P. Kohli Memorial Lecture to be delivered by Lord Blair, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London on "Counter Terrorism and Police Legitimacy".

              2. Through this annual lecture, the Central Bureau of Investigation pays homage to its founder Director, the Late Shri D.P. Kohli. Shri Kohli headed the Delhi Special Police Establishment, later named the CBI, from 1955 to 1968- a period of 13 years. Shri Kohli was a visionary, which is reflected in the motto, "Industry, Impartiality and Integrity" that he gave to CBI. It was during his tenure, that a strong foundation was laid for maintaining the highest standards of personal and professional integrity. Subsequent Directors have further nurtured his vision and today, the Bureau has emerged as a multi-disciplinary investigating agency that enjoys the trust of the people, Parliament, Judiciary and Government. This memorial lecture is also an occasion to re-dedicate ourselves to his ideals and gain strength to fight crime and corruption to the best of our ability.

              3. I am grateful to the Hon'ble Minister for having graced the occasion and for agreeing to present the Indian Police Medals for meritorious service to the awardees as well the D.P. Kohli Medal for the Best Detective Constable.

              4. I welcome Lord Blair, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, London, popularly known as the 'Scotland Yard'. He was Police Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 2005 to 2009 and was at the helm of affairs during the London bombings of 2005. He has 35 years of police experience including counter-terrorism, anti-corruption investigation, organizational change and leadership.

              5. I am delighted that Lord Blair has accepted our invitation and agreed to speak on "Counter-Terrorism and Police Legitimacy", a subject of great relevance to India and a subject on which he has vast experience.

              6. Before touching on the subject which is today's topic of discussion, I would like to say a few words regarding the drive against corruption. As you are aware, in the last six months there have been a number of high profile cases registered by CBI in which action has been taken against very prominent personalities. These investigations are still continuing. We also have a number of high profile campaigns against corruption currently underway with a demand for a comprehensive Lokpal Bill. It would be an autonomous body to tackle corruption at the highest level. I would like to, at this point of time, to quote President Kalam, who said, "if a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher". The fight against the corruption should ideally start at the school level as children are strongly influenced by their teachers. I remember a decade ago, when my children were in school, there was a campaign in schools against use of fire crackers during Diwali as these crackers were being manufactured using child labours in extremely hazardous conditions. As a result of that campaign, the sale of fire crackers during Diwali came down drastically and children refused to play with them. A similar campaign against corruption in schools will go a long way and produce excellent and long term results.

              7. The specter of terror has been haunting world in general and India in particular for the last few decades. It has come to forefront in the new millennium with the 'catalytic' terrorist attack on USA in September, 2001. Our country has been subjected to a series of terrorist attacks for more than two decades including the attack on Parliament on 13th December, 2001 and Mumbai attack on 26th November, 2008.

              8. It is heartening to note that the world has woken up to the challenges that terrorism poses. In India, a Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) has been set up to neutralize terrorists and insurgents with a mechanism for real time intelligence sharing and operational coordination among the police forces of the country. Other measures that have been taken to deal with terrorism are : Setting up of a National Investigation Agency (NIA); implementation of National Police Mission; pushing Mega-City policing; upgrading Forensic Science Laboratories to global standards; overall reform in the Criminal Justice System; enactment of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Bill, 2008; enactment of a Model Police Act. The legitimacy of the special legislations to deal with crimes committed by terrorists, however, have often been questioned on the grounds of their abuse-potential. To quote Anna Lindh "Terrorism can never be accepted, we must fight it together with methods that do not compromise our respect for the rule of law and human rights or are used as an excuse for others to do so".

              9. The CBI has investigated a number of cases that challenge the legitimacy of police action against alleged terrorists. Special Crimes Division of CBI investigated crimes committed during the period of Sikh militancy in Punjab in the 1980's and 90's in which it was alleged that police officials had abused their power to counter terror. CBI found evidence against several Punjab police officials for violating the Rule of Law, human rights of Sikh militants and charge-sheeted a number of police officers, several of whom were convicted. The plea taken by police officers that they merely executed the orders of their superiors could not absolve them of the crime.

              10. In a landmark judgment delivered by the Supreme Court three weeks ago, it ruled that fake encounter killings fell in the category of "rarest of rare" cases and policemen found involved in such killings "must be given death sentence". The Supreme Court warned the policemen that they will not be excused for murders in the name of "encounter" on the pretext that they were carrying out the orders of their superior officers or politicians, however high. The Apex Court further observed that if a policeman is given an illegal order by any superior to do a "fake encounter" it is his duty to refuse to carry out such illegal orders, otherwise he will be charged for murder, and if found guilty, sentenced to death. The Supreme Court said "fake encounters are nothing but cold blooded, brutal murder by persons who are supposed to uphold the law. In our opinion if crimes are committed by ordinary people, ordinary punishment should be given, but if the offence is committed by a policeman much harsher punishment should be given to them because they did an act totally contrary to their duties".

              11. I am reminded here of the famous message to policemen given by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and I quote, "whatever the provocation I would appeal to you to remain cool. It is the primary duty of the police. He who loses his temper no longer remains a policeman". Police legitimacy exists only when terror is countered within the rule of law which each policeman solemnly takes oath to uphold under all circumstances when he is inducted to this important wing of Criminal Justice System. There cannot be two schools of thought on this.

              12. I am sure Lord Blair's address on "Counter Terrorism and Police Legitimacy" which is of contemporary interest, both globally and within India, would be immensely illuminating and thought-provoking for the audience present here this evening.

              13. I am also grateful to the Vigilance Commissioners, Secretary, DoPT, retired Directors of CBI and all others, especially the media, for their support, help, guidance and constructive criticism, all of which has helped the CBI to perform better. The presence of so many distinguished guests at this memorial lecture has made us feel, both humble and proud. We thank you for accepting our invitation and coming to the function. I hope CBI will continue to have your good wishes and whole hearted support in future too.

              May I now request the Hon'ble Minister for Personnel to give away the awards.