- Mains – GS 2 (Governance)
Context: Incidents like an outbreak of communal violence in Delhi region and violence in Manipur’s Imphal Valley raises concerns over the role of law enforcement.
About Police and Policing Framework in India
- The primary role of police forces is to uphold and enforce laws, investigate crimes and ensure security for people in the country.
- In a large and populous country like India, police forces need to be well equipped, in terms of personnel, weaponry, forensic, communication and transport support, to perform their role well.
Constitutional and legal provisions:
- Under the Constitution, ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are state subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India.
- Therefore, each state has its own police force.
- The center is also allowed to maintain its own police forces to assist the states with ensuring law and order.
- The basic framework for policing in India was laid down in the pre-independence era through the Police Act, 1861.
- Apart from the above, several other laws and regulations govern police functioning in India.
- These include the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), Indian Penal Code (IPC), Evidence Act and various state-specific laws.
Significance of police reforms:
- Low police-to-population ratio: The global average ratio of police-population is 270 to 100,000, where it is 120 in India.
- With far less police –ill-equipped and most of them posted to protect the political representatives, people of India are the least secured people on the globe.
- Corruption: In 2016, the vigilance department had conducted 55% more inquiries against its men.
- A Delhi Police survey found 34% of the cops to be corrupt in 2015, down from 66% in 2014.
- Changing nature of crime: The recent social and technological changes fueled by the internet and the new social media are fast changing the nature, intensity and the reach of crime leading to unprecedented lawlessness and frightening dimensions of global terrorism.
- Insensitive towards backward classes: Representation of women and depressed caste is low which makes them insensitive towards them.
- Escalating violence resulting from caste conflicts including the most recent Dalit uprising, farmers woes across the country.
Issues in Police Forces
Colonial Law: Even at present, the police system in India is based on colonial law.
- Sometimes the British used the police as their instrument to suppress the voice of people and for their personal functions and at present our respected government is doing the same.
Huge vacancies: While the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016, the actual strength was 137 police.
- This is excessively low when compared with the United Nations’ recommended standard of 222 police per lakh persons.
- Further, a high percentage of vacancies within the police forces exacerbates an existing problem of overburdened police personnel.
Custodial Death: There are many cases on custodial death means Death by torture/pressure in police/judicial custody.
- During 1996-1997 in D.K.Basu judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a guideline against custodial death in India.
Police Infrastructure (weapons, vehicle etc.): Modern policing requires strong communication support, state-of-the-art or modern weapons, and a high degree of mobility.
- Even the fund’s allotted face Underutilization.
Law on Torture: India has only signed the “United Nation Convention on torture” but yet to pass by the Parliament.
- India does not have a specific law for torture.
Political Interference: Police officers are not able to do their work due to the interference of political leaders.
- There is no minimum tenure security for officers at the higher post and not even place posting security.
Promotions and working conditions: Qualifications and training of police personnel are not up to the mark, especially for lower levels of officials.
- The lower ranks of police personnel are often verbally abused by their superiors or they work in inhuman conditions.
- This non-harmonious work environment ultimately affects their relationship with the public.
Way Forward: Seven Directives of the Supreme Court (SC)
- Limit political control: Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.
- Appoint based on merit: Ensure that the Director-General of Police is appointed through a merit-based, transparent process, and secures a minimum tenure of 2 years.
- Fix minimum tenure: Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (Including Superintendents of Police in charge of a district and Station House Officers in charge of a police station) are also provided with a minimum tenure of 2 years.
- Separate police functions: Separate the functions of investigation and maintaining law and order.
- Set up fair and transparent systems: Set up a Police Establishment Board to decide and make recommendations on transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
- Establish a Police Complaints Authority in each state: At the state level, there should be a Police Complaints Authority to look into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody.
- At the district level, the Police Complaints Authority should be set up to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct.
- Set up a selection commission: A National Security Commission needs to be set up at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of chiefs of the Central Police Organizations with a minimum tenure of 2 years.