Police Reforms in India : Much needed reform

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The very fact that the present system of policing is governed by Centuries' old "Police Act of 1861" which is still in force, gives a clear idea about the necessity of police reforms in India. Even after terriorist attack, multi-crore scams and internal security threats like Naxalism, political class is less willing to loosen its grip on police & are not letting them do their job thereby further accentuating the problem of “RED TAPISM” in India. They are in total subordination to ruling party and most of the times themselves are involved in the crime.

GROUND SITUATION :

  • Every Circle or Sub Inspector is chosen after consideration of local MLA’s choice.
  • Caste & “flexibility” of the concerned police also determines posting.
  • At the State level, promotion is offered to those who can “serve” to ruling party.

POPULATIONS VS. POLICE – GLOBAL TREND

Global average ratio of police-population is 270 per one lakh. In India it is 120 per one lakh. With so less police, ill-trained, ill-equipped and most of them trying to save politicians, people of India are really vulnerable.

AREAS WHERE REFORMS REQUIRED :

  • Beef up security apparatus
  • strengthen the intelligence gathering ability
  • bring about coherence and coordination between different police and security agencies
  • modernizing the police force,
  • enabling our cities with infrastructure to deter terrorist attacks
  • most importantly making police people friendly

REASONS FOR SLOW REFORMS

  • “Police” as a subject comes under State List.
  • Most of the states are still following the 1861 police act with some minor changes.

COMMISSIONS & COMMITTEES

Many commissions and committees have been constituted on police reforms till now. Prominent among them are as follows:

Gore Committee on Police Training

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • impart necessary knowledge and skills
  • create the right attitude
  • generate effective decision making ability
  • stimulate critical and innovative thinking

The National Police Commission (1979)

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • POLICE TRAINING: Current police training is unsatisfactory in terms of quality & quantity. Should be improved.
  • TRAINING CONCEPTS AND OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the training of police officers should be the inculcation of knowledge and professional skills and the development of attitudes appropriate to their work & the people they come into contact with. Police training should, in addition, be given the necessary bias for science and technology.
  • RECRUITMENT: The nature of police work calls for persons of exceptional ability, intelligence and alertness and a high level of physical courage and stamina. They should also be honest and impartial and men of character.

The Ribeiro Committee on Police Reforms

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • A Security Commission should be set-up in each State consisting of the Minister in charge of Police as the Chairman, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Secretary of the State, a sitting or retired judge nominated by the Chief Justice of the State's High Court and three other non-political citizens of proven merit and integrity as members. The name of the Commission should be "The Police Performance and Accountability Commission." (PPAC).
  • Besides the Commission, a District Police Complaints Authority will be set up in each Police District as a non statutory body to examine complaints from the public of police excesses, arbitrary arrests and detention, false implications in criminal cases, custodial violence, etc and to make appropriate recommendations to the Police Performance and Accountability Commission, as well as to the Government and to the State or National Human Rights Commission.
  • In every State, a Police Establishment Board should be constituted with the DGP and his four senior-most officers, borne on the IPS cadre of the State but who are immediately junior to the DGP, as members to monitor all transfers, promotions, rewards and punishments as well as other service related issues.

Soli Sorabjee Committee or Police Act Drafting Committee :

Drafted a new model police bill to replace the colonial 1861 Police Act & gave a model police act in 2006.

Supreme Court (SC) Case Related to Police Reforms : Prakash Singh Vs. Union of India 

SC under Article 142 of the Constitution (Power of the Supreme Court to do complete justice) empowered it to issue directives regarding a radical overhaul of the Police Act, 1861. Directives were two pronged:

a. To grant immunity to the police from Executive & politicians
b. To divest the Act of all its colonial vestiges and transform its focus from “rule” to “governance”.

SC gave 7 binding directives which were meant to be implemented immediately via legislation or executive order. But states are unwilling to do so :

Directive One : Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to
i) Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police
ii) Lay down broad policy guideline and
iii) Evaluate the performance of the state police

Directive two :Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years

Directive Three : Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in-charge of a district and Station House Officers incharge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of two years

Directive Four : Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police

Directive Five : Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB) to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and make recommendations on postings and transfers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

Directive Six : Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody and at district levels to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct

Directive Seven: Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organizations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.

COMPLIANCE WATCHDOG: THE MONITORING COMMITTEE

  • A 3 member Monitoring Committee was appointed in May 2008 to look into the implementation of the Court’s directives by the Governments.
  • Members: Headed by Justice K.T. Thomas- a retired judge of the Supreme Court, Mr. Kamal Kumar (a retired IPS officer) and Mr. Dharmendra Sharma (Joint Secretary of Police Modernisation.)

As it was not possible to visit every state they only visited 4 states to make report namely:- Maharashtra (West Zone), Uttar Pradesh (North Zone), Karnataka (South Zone) and West Bengal (East Zone) as they were populous & defaulters according to committee. Five reports were submitted to SC based on these which clearly indicated lack of compliance following which court issued notices to the four states.

NEW POLICE LEGISLATION

  • In 2005, the Ministry of Home Affairs constituted the Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC) to draft a Model Police Bill for India.
  • The PADC submitted its draft Model Police Bill, 2006 to the Home Ministry (after the SC judgment). It complements the directions of SC & helps to implement the same effectively.
  • It was hoped that states would enact their own police legislation according to Model Police Bill & SC Directives; but it never happened.

PUBLIC INPUT INTO LEGISLATIVE REFORM

  • Only 11 states have enacted fresh Police Acts to replace the old legislation. Six states have completed the drafting of new police legislations or tabled bills in the assembly. Two states are currently in the process of drafting.
  • Communities are the main beneficiaries & main victims of police reforms. But, Interestingly, none of the bills of the states took account of transparency & public accountability nor involved public in making legislation except Kerala. Kerala appointed 10 members Select Committee & visited each district to take public feedback for the bill.
  • Following things should be done for public participation:
    a. Inviting public and civil society participation in drafting committees
    b. Inviting public submissions on the type of police service communities would want
    c. Inviting input from police at all levels about the type of service they want to be part of
    d. Ensuring that draft that go before the state assemblies and Parliament is in the public domain and made available for comment under proactive disclosure provisions in section 4(1)(c) of the Right to Information Act.

REASONS FOR NON-COMPLIANCE ON THE PART OF STATES

  • States are saying that this will lead to “juristocracy” i.e. increased influence of Judiciary in the matter of legislation.
  • Constitutional scheme of “separation of power” was destroyed as all powers were integrated & assumed by SC.
  • State of Maharashtra & UP are saying that in Prakash Singh case, the SC had issued “recommendations” and not “directions” & had taken help of following pleas :

1. Under Articles 154 & 163, the Executive power of the State is vested in the Governor who shall act in accordance with the aid and advice of the council of ministers or the cabinet.
2. Under Article 163 (3), they said that the Court has no power to question how such advice has been tendered. Emphasis was laid on “shall” (which in law means mandatory in contrast with “may”, which means voluntary).

Practice Questions
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