Police Reforms

Police Reforms

Internal security is very much a prerogative of police and efficient policing is needed in order to tackle threats. But for that, the police system needs to be efficient, effective and technologically sound. – Dr Manmohan Singh.

Evolution of Police system in India.

Evidence of Police system found in the Mauryan era. The term “punnis” was used in the Mauryan era. Kautilya’s book  Arthshashtra mentions criminal justice system.

Names like Faizdar, Kotwal, Chowkidar came up in the medieval period.

In modern India, Lord Cornwallis introduced Police system. Wage based permanent Police force formed to prevent crimes. Cornwallis divided districts into political zones. Police Stations were formed in every 400 miles. Each station was headed by ‘daroga’ or Station chief.

After 1857 mutiny, British government made reforms to strengthen the Indian police force. There were:-

  1. In 1860- First Police commission formed.
  2. In 1861- Political Act passed to crush dissent.
  3. In 1902- Second Police commission set up to recommend changes at administrative level.

Need for the Police reforms

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative says that the general public perception about police is that they are corrupt, lawless and politicised.

Root of the Police’s oppressive behaviour goes back to Imperialism. India’s existing system was conceptualised by the Britishers. For them Police existed to keep people under control. Apart from maintaining law and order and reducing crime, the role of Police was to keep the fear of ruling class among the general public.

Liberalisation of 1990 brought new and elite class in the country and with time these people started to consider themselves above the law. It is the common man that has to endure this without complaining of being exploited. Moreover, law enforcement officials are not accountable for what they do while performing duties according to Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code( CrPc). Section 197 of CrPc makes it necessary to secure the approval of the authority of the department concerned before prosecuting a government officer/ employee. In such situation demand for the changes in Police system becomes imperative. 

On the other side, we must also see under what circumstances Police force work. According to the studies conducted by National Productivity Council and Bureau of Police Research and Development Commission- a policeman in Thana is on duty for 11-14 hours. The 11-14 hours of duty can extend in the case of emergency. Also most policemen loose their lives while performing duties in India compared to any other country. Policeman have to also bear mental stress. During the period of 5 years there has been suicides of 166 policemen in Tamil Nadu, 161 in Maharashtra and 43 in Delhi. Police department is also said to be overburdened. In January 2016, 24% of vacancies are in State Police force.

Functions of Police personnel

  1. Investigation related duties
  2. Prevention of crime
  3. Prevention of peace and security
  4. Enforcement of social legislation
  5. Democratic and election related duties
  6. Natural calamities, disaster management emergency duties
  7. Assistance to other departments.

Commissions for Police Reforms

  1. In 1977- National Police Commission was established. NPC suggested that superintendence be defined in the law to exclude institution that interferes with due process of law. 
  2. In 2005- Police Act Drafting Committee set up to draft a new model Police law. The committee submitted the Model Police Act in 2006 and asked all States to set up state and district level complaints authorities.
  3. In 2008– KT Thomas Committee set up by the Supreme Court.
  4. In 2013- Verma Committee called on police personnels to be accountable only to the law.
  5. Along with the above recommendations made by several committees, the Second Administrative Commission Report (ARC) also made several recommendations for bringing in reforms in Police system in the country. The recommendations of Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Singh in 2006 are also very important.

Way Forward:-

Police accounts for about 3% of government spending. It results in poor infrastructure and overburden of work.

  1. Conducive working conditions and accountability:-  Constables are typically promoted once during their service, and normally retire as head constables.  This could weaken their incentive to perform well. The ARC recommended that the investigative functions of police be separated from the day-to-day law and order functions and that the superintendence of the government over police be restricted in such a manner that the force retains operational autonomy. The ARC suggested a State Accountability Commission made up of five members of government, including the home minister and chief secretary and five non-partisan eminent citizens. Implementing these recommendations would relieve the overburden of work from the shoulders of policemen.
  2. Proper using facilities should be provided to police force. According to a research the condition of police men living in Delhi is deplorable. They live in type of slum areas. Also police force must be equipped with latest technologies and adequate facilities of transport and communication.
  3. Expansion of para military forces has resulted in the dilution of the recruitment standard of Police forces and the vacancies in the central and State police services. Therefore, this balance needs to be restored and more man power in the States needs to be appointed. This would become easier for the police personnel to give 8 hours shifts.
  4. Implementation of the recommendations of the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh Vs Union of India case:- It directed all the states to send names of senior police officers to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for being considered as probable candidates to be appointed as DGPs or Police Commissioners as the case may be. The UPSC, in turn, will prepare a list of three most suitable officers and the states will be free to appoint one of them as police chief.
  5. Healthy working hours:-  In UK, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, the maximum working hours even in the case of emergency is 48 hours in a week. The same situation has to be applied in India. Considering that human police force needs time to refresh and recreation so that their morale is kept high for servicing the society.

First conducive working conditions and human existence should be provided then the proper service by the Police should be demanded.