Stalled Police Reforms In India

deepak mehto
By deepak mehto September 19, 2019 17:41

Police Reforms In India

  • Home minister Amit Shah, at a function organized by the Policy Research and Development Bureau, said that in British era the police was raised to protect their interests, but now the duty of the police was “protection of the people,”
  • He added that since Independence more than 34,000 policemen across the country lost their lives in the line of duty.

Also read:  Why Police Reforms Is Necessary?

History of Police Reforms in India

  • Till now, six committees, including the National Police Commission, have been set up by the government. These committees made recommendations in favor of major policy reforms.
  • These include the Gore Committee on Police Training (1971-73), the Ribeiro Committee on Police Reforms (1998), the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms (2000), the Group of Ministers on National Security (2000-01), and the Malimath Committee on Reforms of Criminal Justice System (2001-03).
  • Despite recommendations from these committees, no substantial changes have been seen.
  • The Supreme Court in 2006 also came up with a landmark judgment in the Prakash Singh case, where the court made seven-point directives to the Center and State governments.
  • However, to date, these have not seen the light of the day.
  • It reflects the lack of political will and adamancy on the part of bureaucracy to implement the order. Neither the politicians nor the bureaucrats want to lose their control over the police.
  • This problem of lack of clarity in control also lies in The Police Act of 1861, which is silent on ‘superintendence’ and ‘general control and directions.’
  • This enables executives to reduce the police to mere tools in the hands of political leaders to fulfill their vested interests.
  • As per the National Police Commission,1979, the relationship that existed between the police and the foreign power before Independence was allowed to continue with the only change that the foreign power was substituted by the political party in power.
  • The Status of Policing in India Report 2019 released recently by Common Cause, a reputed NGO, and the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies also brought out that “political pressure continues to remain one of the biggest hurdles in crime investigation for the police”.
  • It was to deal with these and related problems that the Supreme Court made a historic judgment on September 22, 2006, directing state governments to set up three new institutions: State Security Commission to insulate the police from extraneous pressures; Police Establishment Board to give autonomy to police in personnel matters; and Complaints Authorities to ensure a higher level of accountability by the police. Besides, it prescribed a transparent procedure for the selection of director-general of police, giving him and other supervisory officers in the field two-year tenure, and laying down that investigation and law and order be separated in the metropolitan towns.
  • The directions were to be implemented by the end of 2006. However, 13 years have passed and the states are still dragging their feet.

What is the need for Police Reforms?

1.An overburdened police force-

  • State police forces had 24% vacancies (about 5.5 lakh vacancies) in January 2016.
  • Hence, while the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016, the actual strength was 137 police.
  • Note that the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons.
  1. Constabulary issue-
  • 86% of the state police comprises of the constabulary.
  • Constables are typically promoted once during their service and normally retire as head constables.
  • This could weaken their incentive to perform well.

 3.Poor investigation-

  • Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015).
  • However, convictions have been low.
  • The Law Commission has observed that one of the reasons behind this is the poor quality of investigations.

4. Improving police infrastructure

  • CAG audits have found shortages in weaponry with state police forces. For example, Rajasthan and West Bengal had shortages of 75% and 71% respectively in required weaponry with the state police.
  • The Bureau of Police Research and Development has also noted a 30.5% deficiency in stock of required vehicles with the state forces.

5. Holding police accountable

  • Police have the power to investigate crimes, enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state.
  • To ensure that such power is only used for legitimate purposes, various countries have adopted safeguards such as making police accountable to the political executive and creating independent oversight authorities.

 6. Political interference-

  • In India, the political executive (i.e., ministers) has the power of superintendence and control over the police forces to ensure their accountability.
  • However, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that this power has been misused, and ministers have used police forces for personal and political reasons.
  • Hence, experts have recommended that the scope of the political executive’s power must be limited under law.

7. Communication network

  • The communication network is inadequate; we may be a formidable IT power but there are police stations in the country which have neither a telephone nor a wireless set.

Hence, Police reforms are needed to improve governance, make the police more accountable and create an environment where police consider upholding the rule of law as its paramount duty.

Importance of Police

  • The democratic structure may itself collapse if police are not able to take lawful action against certain categories of criminals just because they have political clout.
  • We claim to have one of the fastest-growing economies in the world but sustaining economic progress demands stable law and order.
  • According to a study, internal violence and external threats cost India nearly 9% of its GDP.
  • Apart from that, there are serious internal security challenges in different parts of the country – in J&K, in the north-east, and in large parts of central India where Maoists have spread their influence.
  • The Centre has been extending massive assistance to state governments to deal with these, but because of a fundamental flaw in our tactical approach, there has been limited success.
  • Success in counterinsurgency can happen only if local police stands in the vanguard of the battle while outside forces play a supplementary role, and not the other way around.

Conclusion

Therefore from any point of view, be it improving control over crime, general law, and order, preserving democracy, sustaining economic progress or dealing with internal security challenges, there is no getting away from reforming, reorganizing and restructuring state police forces and giving them the necessary resources.

Also read: India’s police force among the world’s weakest

Election Commission of India (ECI )- Institution, Powers & Reforms

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deepak mehto
By deepak mehto September 19, 2019 17:41