Sen­si­tis­ing the police

A trans­par­ent, ef­fi­cient, and ef­fec­tive lawen­force­ment agency can clean up In­dia’s polity and so­ci­ety. More im­por­tantly, it can en­sure the suc­cess of eco­nomic re­forms, and as­sure that its fruits are en­joyed by all citizens


A trans­par­ent, ef­fi­cient, and ef­fec­tive lawen­force­ment agency can clean up In­dia’s polity and so­ci­ety. More im­por­tantly, it can en­sure the suc­cess of eco­nomic re­forms, and as­sure that its fruits are en­joyed by all citizens

Apro­gres­sive, mod­ern In­dia needs a pro­gres­sive, mod­ern police. It is tragic that we are still sad­dled with the colo­nial police struc­ture, which the Bri­tish raised in In­dia. There were sev­eral state com­mis­sions in the wake of in­de­pen­dence to re­or­gan­ise and re­struc­ture the police. In 1977, the Cen­tre ap­pointed a Na­tional Police Com­mis­sion (NPC) as it felt that “far reach­ing changes have taken place in the coun­try” and “there has been no com­pre­hen­sive re­view at the na­tional level of the police sys­tem af­ter in­de­pen­dence de­spite rad­i­cal changes in the po­lit­i­cal, so­cial and eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion in the coun­try”. The NPC sub­mit­ted eight de­tailed re­ports be­tween 1979 and 1981, which con­tained com­pre­hen­sive rec­om­men­da­tions cov­er­ing the en­tire gamut of police work­ing. Its rec­om­men­da­tions, how­ever, re­ceived no more than cos­metic treat­ment at the hands of the govern­ment. The Supreme Court of In­dia, in a land­mark judg­ment on 22 Septem­ber, 2006, gave com­pre­hen­sive di­rec­tions on police re­forms. Seven di­rec­tions were given, out of which six were for the state gov­ern­ments and one for the cen­tral govern­ment. The di­rec­tions were:

i) State Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion

To be con­sti­tuted in every state to en­sure that the state govern­ment does not ex­er­cise un­war­ranted in­flu­ence or pres­sure on the state police, and for lay­ing down broad pol­icy guide­lines. States were to adopt one of the three mod­els rec­om­mended by the NHRC, Ribeiro Com­mit­tee, and Sorab­jee Com­mit­tee. Mem­bers were to be cho­sen in a man­ner that it func­tions in­de­pen­dently of govern­ment con­trol.

ii) Se­lec­tion and Min­i­mum Ten­ure of DGP

Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Police of the state to be se­lected by the state govern­ment from amongst the three se­nior-most of­fi­cers, who have been em­pan­elled for pro­mo­tion to that rank by the UPSC on the ba­sis of their length of ser­vice, good

record, and range of ex­pe­ri­ence for head­ing the police force; once se­lected, she shall have a min­i­mum ten­ure of at least two years, ir­re­spec­tive of her date of su­per­an­nu­a­tion.

iii) Min­i­mum Ten­ure of IG Police and Other Of­fi­cers

All police of­fi­cers on op­er­a­tional du­ties like IG i/c Zone, DIG i/c Range, SP i/c District and SHO should have a pre­scribed min­i­mum ten­ure of two years.

iv) Sep­a­ra­tion of In­ves­ti­ga­tion

The in­ves­ti­gat­ing police shall be sep­a­rated from the law and or­der police in towns/ur­ban ar­eas with a pop­u­la­tion of ten lakh or more to start with, and grad­u­ally ex­tended to smaller towns/ ur­ban ar­eas.

v) Police Es­tab­lish­ment Board

Such a Board com­pris­ing DGP and four other se­nior of­fi­cers should be con­sti­tuted to de­cide trans­fers, post­ings, pro­mo­tions and other ser­vicere­lated mat­ters of of­fi­cers of and below the rank of Deputy SP. The Board shall make ap­pro­pri­ate rec­om­men­da­tions to the state govern­ment re­gard­ing the post­ings and trans­fers of of­fi­cers of and above the rank of SP. It will func­tion as a fo­rum for ap­peal and re­view the func­tion­ing of police.

vi) Police Com­plaints Au­thor­ity

Police Com­plaints Au­thor­i­ties shall be set up at the state level to look into com­plaints against of­fi­cers of the rank of SP and above and, at the district level, to look into com­plaints against of­fi­cers of and up to the rank of Dy. SP. These will be headed by retired judges and shall look into com­plaints of se­ri­ous mis­con­duct by police per­son­nel.

vii) Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion

The Cen­tral Govern­ment shall set up a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion to pre­pare a panel for se­lec­tion and place­ment of Chiefs of Cen­tral Police Or­gan­i­sa­tions, and also re­view mea­sures to up­grade the ef­fec­tive­ness of these forces, im­prove the ser­vice con­di­tions of its per­son­nel, en­sure that there is proper co­or­di­na­tion be­tween them and that the forces are gen­er­ally uti­lized for the pur­poses they were raised.

THE afore­said di­rec­tions were to be com­plied with by the Cen­tral Govern­ment, State Gov­ern­ments and the Union Ter­ri­to­ries on or be­fore 31 De­cem­ber, 2006. The time-limit was ex­tended till 31 March, 2007. Re­view pe­ti­tions filed by the states of Gu­jarat, Kar­nataka, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Pun­jab, Tamil Nadu and Ut­tar Pradesh were

dis­missed on 23 Au­gust, 2007. Still, the states dilly-dal­lied in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the di­rec­tions. Even where the man­dated in­sti­tu­tions – the State Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion, Police Es­tab­lish­ment Board, and the Com­plaints Au­thor­i­ties – were set up, their com­po­si­tion was sub­verted, char­ter di­luted and pow­ers cur­tailed. There is ar­bi­trari­ness in the ap­point­ment of DGP with sev­eral states not con­sult­ing the UPSC in the em­pan­el­ment of of­fi­cers. Police of­fi­cers on op­er­a­tional as­sign­ments are shunted out for all kinds of ad­min­is­tra­tive rea­sons be­fore the com­ple­tion of two years. There is tar­di­ness in the sep­a­ra­tion of in­ves­tiga­tive, and law and or­der func­tions.

IN its Au­gust 2010 re­port, the Jus­tice Thomas Com­mit­tee, which was ap­pointed by the Supreme Court to mon­i­tor the im­ple­men­ta­tion of its di­rec­tions, ex­pressed “dis­may over the to­tal in­dif­fer­ence to the is­sue of re­forms in the func­tion­ing of Police be­ing ex­hib­ited by the States”. Jus­tice JS Verma Com­mit­tee, which was con­sti­tuted in the wake of the bru­tal gang rape in Delhi on 16 De­cem­ber, 2012, sub­mit­ted a re­port on the Amendments to Crim­i­nal Law. It urged “all states to fully com­ply with all six Supreme Court di­rec­tives in or­der to tackle sys­temic prob­lems in polic­ing which ex­ist to­day”. It fur­ther made the following ob­ser­va­tions: “We be­lieve that if the Supreme Court’s di­rec­tions in Prakash Singh are im­ple­mented, there will be a cru­cial mod­erni­sa­tion of the police to be ser­vice ori­ented for the cit­i­zenry in a man­ner which is ef­fi­cient, sci­en­tific, and con­sis­tent with hu­man dig­nity.” What is at stake is not only the vi­tal­ity and cred­i­bil­ity of the police but the sur­vival of the demo­cratic struc­ture

The Supreme Court di­rec­tions are not for the glory of the police, but to give bet­ter se­cu­rity and pro­tec­tion to the peo­ple, up­hold their hu­man rights, and gen­er­ally im­prove gov­er­nance.

and the suc­cess of eco­nomic re­forms. The leg­is­la­tures and the Par­lia­ment have been in­fil­trated with crim­i­nals. The nexus be­tween the politi­cians and crim­i­nals is un­der­min­ing the au­thor­ity of the State. Peo­ple who should be be­hind the bars are pro­tected by the coun­try’s police. A sys­tem which per­mits such an aber­ra­tion is in­her­ently faulty and has got to be changed. Mech­a­nisms must be de­vised to safe­guard the police from be­com­ing a tool in the hands of un­scrupu­lous politi­cians or oblige it to pro­tect crim­i­nals. The eco­nomic growth of the coun­try re­quires com­pre­hen­sive im­prove­ment in the law and or­der sit­u­a­tion. In­vest­ments would not be forth­com­ing if re­turns are not guar­an­teed. Fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties are com­mon. Money is laun­dered in a big way. Crim­i­nals are able to spread their op­er­a­tions be­yond the na­tional bound­aries and move with much greater ease and fre­quency. All this would need ef­fec­tive ac­tion, pre­ven­tive as well as de­tec­tive, by the law en­force­ment agen­cies. Police in its present from is not able to meet the chal­lenges of the de­vel­op­ing sit­u­a­tion.

Present Sta­tus

a) States which have passed ex­ec­u­tive or­ders have di­luted the di­rec­tions of the Supreme Court. b) The following 17 states have passed their own Police Acts:As­sam, Bi­har, Ch­hat­tis­garh, Gu­jarat, Haryana, Hi­machal Pradesh, Kar­nataka, Ker­ala, Ma­ha­rash­tra, Megha­laya, Mi­zo­ram, Pun­jab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil­nadu, Tripura and Ut­tarak­hand. They have passed these laws es­sen­tially to cir­cum­vent the im­ple­men­ta­tion of Court’s di­rec­tions. The Acts vi­o­late the let­ter and spirit of Court’s di­rec­tions. c) Govern­ment of In­dia has not shown sin­cer­ity in im­ple­ment­ing the apex court’s di­rec­tions. A Model Police Act, drafted by Soli Sorab­jee in 2006, is yet to leg­is­lated for the Union Ter­ri­to­ries.

THE Supreme Court di­rec­tions, it needs to be high­lighted, are not for the glory of the police, but to give bet­ter se­cu­rity and pro­tec­tion to the peo­ple, up­hold their hu­man rights, and gen­er­ally im­prove gov­er­nance. If sin­cerely im­ple­mented, they would have far reach­ing im­pli­ca­tions and change the work­ing phi­los­o­phy of the police. The Ruler’s Police would be trans­formed into Peo­ple’s Police. (The writer is Chair­man, In­dian Police Foun­da­tion, and con­tin­ues to cam­paign for police re­forms)

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