Mumbai CP bans constables from using cellphones while on duty

With Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria directing constables not to use cellphones while in uniform, junior cops complain that the rule is not practical and will impede their response to an emergency

In a move that marks stricter regulations for city cops, Mumbai Commissioner of Police Rakesh Maria has issued an order to all police stations across the city, forbidding constables from using cellphones while on duty. However, the constabulary is far from pleased with the new rule, and claim that it will only slow them down in emergencies.

A police constable talks on his cell phone at a bus stop near Cross Maidan in Mumbai. According to a senior official, the order to wear caps and avoid cell phones is not an option, and it will improve the police’s performance. File pic for representation
A police constable talks on his cell phone at a bus stop near Cross Maidan in Mumbai. According to a senior official, the order to wear caps and avoid cell phones is not an option, and it will improve the police’s performance. File pic for representation

The Commissioner issued the order yesterday, along with another command making it mandatory for the cops to wear their official caps as well. The command further directed senior police inspectors to take stricter action against constables who are found flouting the orders.

The notice mentioned that stricter implementation has come into place since policemen had ignored several warnings in the past. The order applies to all police constables, including those from the Traffic department. While the rule is to be followed by cops whenever they are in uniform and on duty, the implementation will be particularly strict for those on bandobast duty.

Mumbai Police’s spokesperson, Deputy Commissioner of Police Dhananjay Kulkarni said, “The CP must have noticed many constables without their assigned caps or other constables talking on their mobile phones while on duty, because of which he might have decided to give a strict message to officers at junior levels.” He added that senior cops would conduct an enquiry against constables breaching the rules.

‘Not practical’
Already irked with recent instructions for all cops to wear helmets while riding two-wheelers even those riding pillion constables are now taken aback with the new restrictions.

Citing mobile phones as a lifeline for everyone, a few cops said that it will be hard to perform their jobs without a phone. Others said that not being able to use a cellphone would slow down their response in emergencies.

“For co-ordination purposes, being able to call is a must. If a crime takes place at any location and the criminals are running away from the spot, do you expect us to sit back and let them escape just because we are scared to be seen on the phone by our superiors? This is not possible,” said a constable.

Another constable said that it was impractical to force cops to wear helmets and caps and carry both everywhere, adding further, “Some time ago, the commissioner had issued an order that pillion riders, too, should wear helmets. If the department wants us to wear caps, then why put the helmet mandate in place?”

However, a senior officer told mid-day, “This is a disciplinary force. Not wearing the cap is not an option. Secondly, instead of ruing about the response time in case of untoward incidents, such staff should realise that not attending to phone calls during bandobast will make policemen more attentive. Instead of playing games on their phones to pass time, they will now focus on their respective duties.”

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