What&’s wrong with a cop as HRC member?
SIR, This is with reference to a recent article, “Cops as HRC members,” by Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court. His assertion that police officers and security personnel should be barred from membership of the National  Human Rights Commission and the state HRCs  is prejudiced, discriminatory and runs counter to the concept of equality as guaranteed by Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution. The suggestion reeks of untouchability and  “hate”. It is tantamount to a stigma on the police.
The history of the police in India has been enriched by outstanding personalities, pre-eminently BN Mullick, DP Kohli, GK Handoo, KF Rustamji, D Sen, John Lobo and several others. Their integrity, dedication, patriotic spirit and ungrudging service in the event of a national crisis are worthy of emulation.
The contribution of the police to internal security and the tackling of secessionists has been exemplary. The cadres of other services cannot boast the record of the police.
Enquiry and investigation are distinctly different. Investigation is a highly specialised task. Prolonged experience, dedication and proper guidance are the essential prerequisites for a competent investigation officer.
Indeed, expertise is essential to unravel the truth, expose the offenders and withstand public and judicial scrutiny and earn the trust and confidence of the people.
Justice Sachar has recommended no alternative if police officers are barred by the HRCs from conducting investigation under Section 14 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993. Instances of custodial deaths, excesses or misdemeanour by the cops are investigated by the police. Fair and impartial investigation, free of service fraternity and sentiment, can lead to penalisation and  conviction of colleagues. This testifies to the high standard of professional ethics and impartiality. Justice Sachar&’s article will demoralise the cops.
Yours etc. BP Saha,
Kolkata, 29 July.
ART COLLEGE IS 150
SIR, On 29 June 2013, Kolkata&’s proud boast, the  Govt. College of Art and Craft stepped into its 150th year. It is the country&’s second oldest art college,  after Madras Art College.
 It is the institution which heralded the Renaissance of modern Indian art, thanks to the contribution of EB Havell, Percy Brown and Abanindanath Tagore.
The illustrious alumni of the college include Acharya Nanda Lal Bose, Jamini Roy, Mukul Dey, Atul Bose, Somnath Hore, Ganesh Pyne, Chintamani Kar, Shakti Barman, Jogen Chowdhury, to name but a few.
Till date, however, neither the college authorities nor the state government has shown any interest in celebrating the 150th anniversary. Ex-students have revived the defunct alumni association  through an election.
A committee has been formed to celebrate this event with the participation of teachers, students and the government.
A year-long celebration is on the anvil, featuring workshops, seminars, exhibitions, and the publication of its history.
We would like artists, art connoisseurs, and art historians from all over the country to contribute. The President will be invited to inaugurate the programme. Sadly, the college authorities and the artists are not interested.
This is the right occasion to declare the college as a centre of excellence. The institution is part of the country&’s heritage.
Yours, etc., Mrityunjoy Chatterjee,
Kolkata, 29 July.
NDA’S PROSPECTS
SIR, A pre-poll survey conducted by a leading news channel predicts that the NDA will emerge as the largest single group, if the Lok Sabha elections are held today.
 However, it may fall short of the required number to stake its claim. The other strong contenders are also expected to bag a substantial numbers of seats.
But, if the NDA leader is called by the President to explore the possibility of forming the government, then there will be a hectic rush among the constituents which were initially opposed to the NDA. Like for instance the DMK, AIADMK, Trinamul Congress, TDP, LJP, JD (U) etc.
These parties had supported the NDA in 1998 and  again during 1999-2004. The Modi factor can then be conveniently put on the back-burner, even if he is chosen as the leader of the House.
 Yours, etc., Arun Malankar,
Mumbai, 30 July.
STYLE OF SPELLING
SIR, I have been reading your prestigious newspaper for the past 50 years. There has recently been a change in the format and presentation of news and special articles. The old design was easier on the eye. Any change is acceptable if it leads to improvement.
The other day my young grandson asked me whether “India", printed as ‘india’, and Bengal as ‘bengal’ in the page slugs are grammatically correct. If incorrect, such forms of spelling should  be avoided.  Even today, children learn English from The Statesman.
Yours, etc., Dipak Lahiri,
Kolkata, 19 July.