Before we understand police reforms and need for reforms, we need to understand problems of police in India. It can be categorised under
- Structural Problems
- Goal Clarity
- Role Clarity
- Dual accountability
- Operational problems
- Infrastructural problems
- Behavioural Issues
- Police Public Relationship - Past, present and ideal
- Goal Clarity
- Police a force or service?
- Is it an L&O agency or people-friendly law enforcement authority
- Who owns police - state or society?
- What is their fundamental vision and mission?
As per SC in Prakash Singh Judgement 2006 - commitment and devotion of police is only to the rule of law. The supervision and control has to be such that police serve people without any regard to status and position of person. During investigation / preventive measures
- Role Clarity
- Role overload - no sense of prioritisation (it includes core and non-core responsibilities)
- L&O maintenance - Ideally police should be bifurcated into
- prevention and protection
- Investigation and prosecution
- because these two macro functions requires different skill and attitude
- Police to population ratio - UK - 1:290 and India - 1:690
- 87% of police personnel is constabulary (no FRI or no arrest)
- Teeth to tail ratio = SI: Constables
- Ideal - 1:7
- India - 1:15
- Dual Accountability
In 1996 petition - The present distortion has its roots in colonial past (1861 Act) and it completely sub-ordinates police to executive and even to political executive which was designed originally to protect British Raj - Indian police groomed by British on military ethos and their model was Irish police instead of British constabulary ( Br. police is known for their efficiency and effectiveness )
SC in 2006 Prakash Singh case gave 7 direction on Police Reform
- Create state security commission to insulate police
- Create police establishment board to give functional autonomy - recruitment, training and posting
- Selection of DG from a panel of three senior-most panels and tenure of two years, similar tenures for other officers
- Create police complaints authority (to investigate police against police)
- Separate prevention from Law and order.
However L&O is a state subject and states are highly reluctant, lack of political will to reduce control on police. Although directions were supposed to be implemented by 2007. Justice K Thomas committee observed that most of the states have not implemented and are indifferent to police reforms.
Centre came up with a draft model police act and drafted by Soli Sorabjee Committee but states have not yet made the changes in true letter and spirit.
Maharastra recently filed an affidavit asking SC, if these are guidelines or order or encroachment on states power while some other states have expressed practical in-ability in implementation as observed by CHRI - Common Wealth Human Rights Investigation. Bigger the state greater seems to be the defiance on Judiciary's order of police reforms.
Why should law be separate from order
Police should report to political executive. They argue that uncontrolled and unregulated police force undermine democracy, uniform service having to access and authority to use force but without Checks and Balance, Control and Accountability. Who will guard the guards?. There would be danger of abuse - coercive power can extinguish the flame of liberty unless it is tempered by responsible political direction
Extraneous pressure and vested interest prevent police from objective action. Therefore separate L&O. Even J has directed for separation and insulation of police from political pressure, Since police force is frequently misused by political masters for
- Spy on political rivals
- Going slow on investigation
- Selective pursuit on politically sensitive cases. e.g closure and reopening of cases
- Influencing police during investigation, riots, communal clashes, conflict resolution and election related violence
- Impact of CPPC
- Failure to identify chain of command e.g in the proposed communal violence bill, civil society wanted clarity on chain of commands. i.e who should be ultimately held responsible and accountable for action /inaction
Ideally, police should be brought under political executive for preventive aspects but in the investigation, they should be completely insulated. e.g SC observed apex agency like CBI is subject to political pressure. CBI is like a parrot speaking his master's voice
The politicisation of police leads to loss of objectivity and credibility, police will continue to be a state force or state machinery in the eyes of citizens if this segregation does not happen.
to be continued...