MPPSC Study Material
Drishti IAS
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Police Reforms in India
Sep 23, 2017

[GS Paper II: (Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability)]

Why in news?

Recently the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) released a report highlighting the inability to staff police forces with adequate personnel for ensuring public safety and crime fighting.

What the report says?

  • Nearly 21% of the sanctioned posts are lying vacant, which translates to one cop for every 663 people against a sanctioned police population ratio of 1:518.
  • With just 150 cops per lakh population, India’s general conviction rate of 47% in 2015 and a conviction rate of just 21.7% in crimes against women reveal that most cases brought to trial end in acquittal.
  • In a 2014 BPR&D study, 68% of surveyed SHOs reported that their subordinates worked more than 11 hours daily and 73% were summoned to work on holidays too.

Issues concerning Police Forces

  • Accountability to the political executive vs operational freedom: Both the Central and State police forces come under the control and superintendence of the political executive (i.e., Central or State government). The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) has noted that this control has been abused in the past by the political executive to unduly influence police personnel, and have them serve personal or political interests.
  • Vacancies and an overburdened force: Currently there are significant vacancies within the State police forces and some of the Central armed police forces. A high percentage of vacancies within the police forces exacerbates an existing problem of overburdened police personnel.
  • Constabulary related issues: The constabulary constitutes 86% of the State police forces and has wide-ranging responsibilities. The Padmanabhaiah Committee and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have noted that the entry level qualifications (i.e. completion of class 10th or 12th in many States) and training of constables do not qualify them for their role.
  • Police infrastructure: Modern policing requires a strong communication support, state-of-the-art or modern weapons, and a high degree of mobility. The CAG and the BPRD have noted shortcomings on several of these fronts.
  • Police-public relations: Police requires the confidence, cooperation and support of the community to prevent crime and disorder. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that police-public relations is in an unsatisfactory State because people view the police as corrupt, inefficient, politically partisan and unresponsive.
  • The Supreme Court on September 8, 2017 agreed to set up a bench to hear a clutch of contempt pleas claiming that its historic 2006 verdict on police reforms, recommending steps like fixed tenures for DGPs and SPs, has not yet been implemented by states and union territories.

Supreme Court Order in Prakash Singh vs Union of India

  • In 1996, a petition was filed before the Supreme Court that raised various instances of abuse of power by the police, and alleged that police personnel perform their duties in a politically partisan manner.
  • The court required that minimum tenure of service be guaranteed to key police officers to protect them from arbitrary transfers and postings.
  • The SC’s directions included a fixed tenure of two years for top police officers in crucial positions, setting up of a State Security Commission (in which the leader of the Opposition party also had a role, and would give policy directions to the police), the clear separation of law and order and crime functions of the police and creation of a Police Establishment Board to regulate police placements. 
  • It also mandated a new Police Act on the basis of a model Act prepared by the Union government and circulated to the States.

 


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