Retired IPS officer, Mr. Bhanupratap Bargehas filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in Supreme Court (SC) seeking a direction to the Central Government (CG) to make apposite provisions for payment of ‘risk and hardship’ allowances, incentives in form of a bonus, additional salary to the police officers who are serving on the frontline during lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition highlights several positive cases of coronavirus among police officers and the death of police personnel due to COVID-19 in Madhya Pradesh and Ludhiana. It further states that “even a protector needs protection and safety’ and its time that Government must take effective measures and steps to ensure good health and safety of the Police personnel across the country and boost their morale by at least extending some financial support to all such officers and their families who are instrumental in containing the spread of COVID-19”.
It states that in this unprecedented situation, the police officers are not only bound to maintain law and order but also to ensure that the lockdown is strictly followed. The Petitioner, through Advocate Pai Amit, has submitted that the concept of “Risk and Hardship Allowance” is not a novel one and should be put to use to support those police officers who are working on the frontline to perform their duty risking their families lives.
As per guidelines given by World Health Organization (WHO), older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, therefore it is pleaded in the petition that the officers above the age of 48 years who are under serious medical condition should not be deployed in any stressful working environment which comes in direct contact with COVID-19 patients as there is a high risk for them to get in contact with COVID-19.
There are few States (State of Haryana and State of Telangana) who are encouraging and appreciating the efforts of the police personnel by paying them a double salary, at the same time there are other states who are demoralizing police officers by deducting their salaries up to 25% to 35%. Therefore the petitioner has sought to withdraw the circulars by all the States whereby the State Government has declared to deduct the salaries of police officers. The petitioner submits for providing incentives to police officers in form of additional salary, bonuses to enable them to support their families especially in those areas, which have been declared hotspots.
To address the serious shortage of police personnel, the Petitioner sought a direction to all the State Governments to, recruit persons who are physically fit, on an ad hoc basis, to ensure that the police officials are not burdened.