Policing in India

SEP 14

Mains   > Polity   >   Executive   >   Security forces and Police

WHY IN NEWS?

  • The Delhi Police has complied with the 2006 Supreme Court judgment on police reforms and separated law and order duties from investigation.

BACKGROUND

  • Under the Constitution, police is a subject governed by states. Therefore, each of the states have their own police forces.
  • The centre is also allowed to maintain its own police forces to assist the states with ensuring law and order. Therefore, it maintains seven central police forces and some other police organisations for specialised tasks such as intelligence gathering, investigation, research and recordkeeping, and training.
  • The primary role of police forces is to uphold and enforce laws, investigate crimes and ensure security for people in the country. Further, they need to have the operational freedom to carry out their responsibilities professionally, and satisfactory working conditions (e.g., regulated working hours and promotion opportunities), while being held accountable for poor performance or misuse of power

STATISTICS:

  • Expenditure on police accounts for about 3% of the central and state government budgets. Bulk of this expenditure was on revenue items, like salaries, because police is a personnel-heavy force.
  • Crime per lakh persons increased by 28% from 2005 to 2015, at the same time State police forces have 24% vacancies and most of them are facing severe shortages in weaponry and vehicles

ISSUES:

  • Low police-people ratio:
    • United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons. In India the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016, the actual strength was 137 police.
  • Unfilled vacancies:
    • State police forces had 24% vacancies and central forces have 7% vacancies in January 2016.
  • Lack of infrastructure:
    • Shortage of weaponry:
      • CAG audits have found shortages in weaponry with state police forces. For example, Rajasthan and West Bengal had shortages of 75% and 71% respectively in required weaponry with the state police
    • Shortage of vehicles:
      • Bureau of Police Research and Development has also noted a 30.5% deficiency in stock of required vehicles
    • Lack of utilization:
      • Funds dedicated for modernisation of infrastructure are typically not utilised fully. For example, in 2015-16, only 14% of such funds were used by the states
    • Non-functional POLNET:
      • CAG audits have found that the POLNET network is non-functional in various states. For example, an audit of the Gujarat police force reported that the network had not been operationalized till 2015 due to non-installation of essential infrastructure
  • Power misuse:
    • In India, the political executive (i.e., ministers) has the power of superintendence and control over the police forces to ensure their accountability. However, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that this power has been misused, and ministers have used police forces for personal and political reasons.
  • Increasing crime rate:
    • Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015).
  • Low conviction rate:
    • In 2015, convictions were secured only in 47% of the cases registered under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Law Commission has observed that one of the reasons behind this is the poor quality of investigations.
  • Poor investigation:
    • State police officers lack the training and the expertise required to conduct professional investigations.
    • Police officers have insufficient legal knowledge (on aspects like admissibility of evidence).
    • Forensic and cyber infrastructure available to police is both inadequate and outdated. Hence police forces may use force and torture to secure evidence.
    • Further, while crime investigations need to be fair and unbiased, in India they may be influenced by political or other extraneous considerations
  • Lack of incentive due low promotion prospects:
    • 86% of the state police comprises of constabulary. Constables are typically promoted once during their service, and normally retire as head constables. This could weaken their incentive to perform well.
  • Less accountability to local administration:
    • In some metropolitan cities and urban areas, the dual system has been replaced by the Commissionerate system. Hence excessive power of policing and magistracy concentrated in Commissioner
  • Underreporting of crime:
    • Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has noted that there is significant under-reporting of crimes under the NCRB for various reasons. They are :
      • There could be suppression of data and low registration of crimes because the police know that their work is judged on the basis of this information.
      • Also, sometimes victims of crime may decide against reporting the incident with the police because they are afraid to approach the police
      • Also, note that the NCRB follows the ‘principal offence rule’ for counting crime. This means that if many offences are covered in a single registered criminal case, the NCRB will only count the most heinous of the offences. For instance, a case of murder and rape, will only be counted as a case of murder (i.e. principal offence) by the NCRB.
  • Qualifications and training:
    • A constable’s responsibilities are wide-ranging, and are not limited to basic tasks. Padmanabhaiah Committee have noted that the entry level qualifications and training of constables do not qualify them for their role.
  • Police-public relations:
    • 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

EXPERT BODIES THAT HAVE EXAMINED POLICE REFORMS:

WAY FORWARD

  • Scope of the political executive’s power must be limited under law:
    • To allow the police greater operational freedom while ensuring accountability, various experts have recommended that the political executive’s power of superintendence over police forces be limited.
  • Commissionerate system:
    • At the district level, dual command system can been replaced by the Commissionerate system to allow for quicker decision-making in response to complex law and order situations
  • Independent Complaints Authority:
    • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Supreme Court have observed that there is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into cases of police misconduct
  • Outsourcing of non-core functions:
    • Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that one way to reduce the burden of the police forces could be to outsource or redistribute some non-core police functions (such as traffic management, issuing of court summons etc.) to government departments or private agencies.
  • Training in soft skills:
    • Padmanabhaiah Committee recommended that constables, and the police force in general, should receive greater training in soft skills (such as communication, counselling and leadership) given they need to deal with the public regularly
  • Separation of investigation and law order:
    • States must have their own specialized investigation units within the police force that are responsible for crime investigation. These units should not ordinarily be diverted for other duties
  • Community policing model:
    • Community policing requires the police to work with the community for prevention and detection of crime and resolving local conflicts, with the objective of providing a better quality of life and sense of security.
    • Various states have been experimenting with community policing including Kerala through ‘Janamaithri Suraksha Project’, Tamil Nadu through ‘Friends of Police’, West Bengal through the ‘Community Policing Project’.
  • Housing:
    • National Police Commission recommends importance of providing housing to the constabulary (and generally to the police force) to improve their efficiency and incentive to accept remote postings
  • Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India:
    • Constitute a State Security Commission in every state that will lay down policy for police functioning, evaluate police performance, and ensure that state governments do not exercise unwarranted influence on the police.
    • Constitute a Police Establishment Board in every state that will decide postings, transfers and promotions for officers below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, and make recommendations to the state government for officers of higher ranks.
    • Constitute Police Complaints Authorities at the state and district levels to inquire into allegations of serious misconduct and abuse of power by police personnel.
    • Provide a minimum tenure of at least two years for the DGP and other key police officers (e.g., officers in charge of a police station and district) within the state forces, and the Chiefs of the central forces to protect them against arbitrary transfers and postings.
    • Ensure that the DGP of state police is appointed from amongst three senior-most officers who have been empanelled for the promotion by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of length of service, good record and experience.
    • Separate the investigating police from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.
    • Constitute a National Security Commission to shortlist the candidates for appointment as Chiefs of the central armed police forces.

MODEL POLICE ACT 2006

  • The central government set up the Police Act Drafting Committee in 2005 to draft a new model police law that could replace the Police Act, 1861.
  • The committee submitted the Model Police Act in 2006, which was circulated to all the states in 2006.
  • 17 states passed new laws or amended their existing laws in light of this new model law.
  • Key features of the Model Police Act:
    • Organisation and recruitment:
      • Each state will have one police service, which shall be headed by the DGP.  Direct recruitments to subordinate ranks (i.e. below Deputy SP) will be made through a state level Police Recruitment Board.  Recruitment to officers’ ranks will be through the UPSC or State PSC
    • Responsibilities:
      • The responsibilities of the police serve will include: (i) enforcing the law impartially, and protecting life, liberty and human rights, (ii) preserving public order, and preventing terrorist, militant and other activities affecting internal security, (iii) protecting public properties, (iv) preventing and investigating crimes, (v) providing help in natural or man-made disasters, (vi) collecting intelligence, etc.
    • Accountability:
      • The state government will exercise superintendence over the police service.  This will include laying down policies and guidelines, setting standards for quality policing, and ensuring that the police perform their duties in a professional manner.
    • Service Conditions:
      • The state government will ensure that the average hours of duty of a police officer do not exceed 8 hours (in exceptional situations, 12 hours).
      • Adequate insurance coverage will also be provided to personnel against any injury disability or death caused in line of duty.  A Police Welfare Board must also be set up to administer and monitor welfare measures for police

EXAMPLES OF COMMUNITY POLICING IN INDIA

  • Janamaithri Suraksha in Kerala:
    • This project is an initiative of the Kerala Police to facilitate greater accessibility, close interaction and better understanding between the police and local communities.
    • For example, Beat Constables are required to know at least one family member of every family living in his beat area, and allocate some time to meet with people outside the police station every week.
  • Meira Paibi (Torch-bearers) in Assam:
    • The women of the Manipuri Basti in Guwahati help with improving the law and order problem in their area, by tackling drug abuse among the youth.
    • They light their torches and go around the basti guarding the entry and exit points, to prevent the youth of the area from going out after sunset

INTERNATIONAL EXAMPLES:

  • Civilian Complaint Review Board of New York City Police:
    • The board comprises civilians appointed by local government bodies and the police commissioner to investigate into cases of police misconduct.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Q.“Performance of Indian criminal justice system is adversely affected by poor policing”. Analyze.