Police Reforms in India GS: 2 EMPOWER IAS
Police Reforms in India
Q) 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. Comment
- The 2019 Status of Policing in India Report released recently
- The report on police adequacy and working conditions, prepared by the NGO Common Cause and Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
- Spread across 21 states, the survey involved interviews of 12,000 police personnel in police stations and around 11,000 of their family members.
- The report highlights the dismal work conditions in which the police operate in India.
Key highlights of the report:
- The police force work with just 3/4th of its required capacity. An average police officer works for 14 hours a day, six hours more than what the Model Police Act recommends.
- The study also found a decline in the total strength of women in the police from 11.4% in 2007 to 10.2% in 2016. Tamil Nadu had highest representation of women at 12.9% in 2016.
- The report also found that 72 per cent police personnel experience “political pressure” during investigation of cases involving influential persons.
- The survey found that 37 per cent personnel interviewed feel that for minor offences, a small punishment should be handed out by the police rather than a legal trial.
- A detailed look at the study reveals that nearly 14 percent of India’s police force feels that Muslims are ‘Very Likely’ to be naturally prone towards committing crime, while 36 percent believe that they are ‘Somewhat Likely’ to commit criminal offenses.
- Last year’s report on Status of Policing in India claimed that 65 per cent of the citizens were satisfied with the way the cops function, while others deemed Delhi the “worst” state in this regard.
- The survey also found that while the police personnel were sufficiently trained on physical parameters, weaponry and in crowd control, many lacked training on modules of new technology, cybercrime or forensic technology.
- Police is an exclusive state subject and the centre has its limitations in this regard
- After independence, some states came out with their own police acts
- For example, the Bombay Police Act, 1951; the Kerala Police act 1960; the Delhi Police act, 1978
- However, all of these police acts were a replica of the Indian police act, 1861. This has in extreme situations made the situation of guardian turning predator and the confidence of the people has come down.
Why India needs urgent police reforms?
- Security and welfare of the people: The security of the society and the welfare of the people is dependent on the efficiency of the police.
- Colonial in nature: The basic architecture of policing is still colonial in India which is a repressive force. An independent country needs a police system that is service oriented that instils faith among its citizen.
- Politicization: Politicization of Police system due to the interference of political leaders and party workers has lead to loss of its autonomy and degraded its respect among citizen.
- Poor quality of investigation: The poor quality of investigation which leads to a lower conviction.
- Technology advancement: The advancement in technology which has opened new dimensions of crime which cannot be tackled by the current system
- People’s faith: To instill the confidence of the people in the institution of police by making police more people friendly.
- Maintaining law and order: To continue security and growth with our high economic growth, the maintenance of law and order plays a vital role.
- Complexity of crime: The rate and complexity of the crime have increased over the years adding new dimensions to the responsibilities of police
Challenges/ Hurdles in police reform:
- Transfer: Transfer as a form of punishment for displeasing someone is a problem. Even judges, who hold Constitutional posts, are not protected from undue transfers.”
- Political pressure: Pressure from politicians was the main obstacle to investigating crimes, while an overwhelming majority of 72 percent said they encountered "political pressure" in probes involving influential people.
- Lack of Political will in implementing the various recommendations given by numerous committee and SC Directives. While few states actively resisted the court s order, few states did nothing.
- Collection and analysis of preventive intelligence: The most important and challenging task faced by the police today is the collection and analysis of preventive intelligence and follow-up action, especially pertaining to terrorists and insurgents who pose a constant challenge to internal security.
- Shortage of manpower : Many states continue to have huge vacancies. Even the apex court’s direction to fill these posts has not yielded the desired results.
- Outdated arms and equipment: Most state police forces continue to use obsolete equipment and arms, and lack the latest technology that would help in investigation and intelligence-gathering.
- Lack of Organisation: There are no organisations to provide the police forces with tested and dependable specifications on equipment and technology.
- Lack of proper training: Well-trained and motivated human resources are key to any police force’s success. But, most training academies are poorly staffed and often don’t have the necessary facilities.
- Poor infrastructure: The existing police infrastructure is also inadequate to cater to the needs of the police force. There is a huge manpower shortage in the police department. The police-population ratio, currently 192 policemen per lakh population, is less than what is recommended by UN i.e. 222 policemen per lakh population.
- Overburden: Overburdening of work not only reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of the police personnel but also leads to psychological distress which contributes to various crimes committed by the policemen.
- Police mobility: Police mobility is another issue, which has been hampered by the shortage of police vehicles. The CAG reported that there is very little increment in vehicle availability and there is a shortage of drivers too.
- Lack of inter-departmental coordination: Lack of coordination within police department is another problem police is facing.
- Low women representation: Representation of women and depressed caste is low which make them insensitive towards them.
- Prevailing Corruption: The pay scales of police personnel especially at the lower levels are very low and they are forced to adopt corrupt means to earn their livelihood. Prevalence of Rank system within the police force results in abuse of power by top level executive over lower level personnel.
Various laws and committees related to police reforms:
- Gore committee on police training in 1971-73: The main thrust of the Committee's recommendations was towards enlarging the content of police training from law and order and crime prevention to a greater sensitivity and understanding of human behaviour.
- National police commission1977, major recommendations were centered on the problem of insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference.
- In 2000, the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police:Reforms was constituted to study, inter alia, recruitment procedures for the police force, training, duties and responsibilities, police officers’ behaviour, police investigations and prosecution.
- The Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC or Soli Sorabjee Committee) that drafted a new model police bill to replace the colonial 1861 Police Act.
- ARC: The ARC recommended separation of crime investigation from other police functions ie maintenance of law and order, establishment of state police boards, welfare and grievances redressal mechanisms for police personnel.
- The 2006 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India case was the landmark in the fight for police reforms in India.
- Need to insulate police personnel from political influence.
- Improvement in capacity and infrastructure of police forces
- Revisiting the constitution of police forces in the country through legislative/administrative changes
- Technological scaling up is need which includes modernization of the control room, fast tracking the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and System (CCTNS) pushing for National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and pushing for incorporation of new technology into policing.
- PM Modi, at the Guwahati Conference of the Directors of General Police in 2014, enunciated the concept of SMART Police i.e. a police which should be sensitive, mobile, alert, reliable and techno-savvy.
- Holding police accountable: Police has 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.
The NITI Aayog has suggested the following reforms:
- State level legislative reforms: States should be encouraged, with fiscal incentives, to introduce ‘The Model Police Act of 2015’ as it modernizes the mandate of the police.
- Administrative and operational reform: A Task Force must be created under the MHA to identify non-core functions that can be outsourced to save on manpower and help in reducing the workload of the police.
- The states should be encouraged to ensure that the representation of women in the police force is increased.
- India should launch a common nation-wide contact for attending to urgent security needs of the citizens.
- NITI Aayog also suggests moving police as well as public order to the Concurrent List to tackle increasing inter-state crime and terrorism under a unified framework.
Safe and efficient internal security is need of the hour for sustainable economic growth for India particularly in the light of complex serious internal security challenges. Threats from terrorism, left wing extremism, religious fundamentalism, and ethnic violence persist in our country. These challenges demand constant vigilance on our part. They need to be tackled firmly but with sensitivity. Therefore, it is a high time that we freed the police from the clutches of political masters and transform it from ‘Ruler’s Police’ to ‘People’s Police.’