Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Police reforms in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Malimath Committee

Mains level: Police reforms due in India


  • There is a widely shared view that the All India Services, which provided the ‘steel frame’ of governance in a democratic India, particularly on the police front, are failing to deliver.
  • This is because of the declining decision-making ability of its officers, their smugness arising from notions of total employment security, and the inadequacy of parameters used for evaluating their performance.
  • Anti-corruption bureau Was Constituted To Shield Corrupt Politicians, Officers From Lokayukta: Karnataka High Court

Role of Police

  • Law enforcement: The basic role of the police is to function as a law enforcement agency and render impartial service to law, without any heed to wishes, indications or desires expressed by the government which either come in conflict with or do not conform to the provisions contained in the constitution or laws.
  • Service delivery: The police should have duly recognised service-oriented role in providing relief to people in distress situations. They should be trained and equipped to perform the service oriented functions.

Issues with police institution

  • Public relationship: The police-public relations relationship, which is crucial to effective policing, is troubled by a severe lack of confidence.
  • Public perception towards police: Most people believe police to be abusive and also believe that police personnel misuse their power in order to bring order to society.
  • Police Accountability: Police priorities are constantly changed at the request of political leaders. This obstructs police officers’ ability to make professional decisions
  • Overburdened force and vacancies: A high percentage of vacancies in police departments exacerbates an already-existing problem of overworked officers. Given India’s low police strength per lakh population in comparison to international standards, each police officer is also responsible for a huge group of people.
  • Infrastructure: The weapons used by lower police forces are obsolete and cannot match modern weaponry used by anti-social elements.
  • Custodial Death: There are many cases on custodial death means Death by torture/pressure in police/judicial custody.
  • The dilemmas and challenges:

(1) The Ubiquitous infrastructure (2) Explosion of police tasks (3) Dis-functionalism of rural police (4) Anomalous personnel system (5) The colossal ignorance of either side (6) The fragility of the equipment (7) The paradox of para militarism (8) Non-development to policing

Steps taken till now

  • Establishment of a Central Police Committee:

A Central Police Committee to look after the functions of consultancy and monitoring be

Created because an expert agency is required by the Central Government and the State

Security Commissions to advise them on matters relating to:

(i) Police Organisation and police reforms of a general nature;

(ii) Central grants and loans to the State Police Forces for their modernisation and Development; and

(iii) Budgetary allotments to State Police Forces.

  • Enactment of a Model Police Act:

The Police Act of 1861 replaced by a new Police Act, which not only changes the

System of superintendence and control over the police but also enlarges the role of the

Police to make it function as an agency which promotes the rule of law in the country and

Renders impartial service to the community.

  • The Prime Minister’s call for making the police a SMART force: standing for a force which is:
  1. Strict and Sensitive,
  2. Modern and Mobile,
  3. Alert and Accountable,
  4. Reliable and Responsive,
  5. Tech-savvy and trained.
Malimath committee:

  • Government had set up (November, 2000) a Committee under the Chairmanship
  • of Justice V.S. Malimath , a former Chief Justice of the Karnataka and Kerala High
  • Courts to consider and recommend measures for revamping the Criminal Justice System.

Key recommendations :

  • Strengthening of training infrastructure, forensic
  • Science laboratory and Finger Print Bureau,
  • Enactment of the new Police Act,
  • Setting up of Central Law Enforcement agency to take care of federal crimes
  • Separation of the investigation wing from the law and order wing in the police stations,
  • Improvement in the investigation by creating more posts.

Some suggestions for better policing:

  • Screen for Implicit Bias and Aggression: State legislatures should pass legislation that requires current and prospective police officers to undergo mandatory implicit bias testing
  • Focus on Collaborative Approaches to Policing: Police departments should rely upon collaborative approaches that respect the dignity of individuals within the community; focus on problem-solving; and are generally more community centered and build community trust.
  • Encourage Consistent Monitoring and Screening: Police departments should create early warning systems for detecting patterns of behaviour, such as complaints filed against officers or personal hardships like divorce, which indicate potential vulnerabilities for the officer and the department.
  • Use Video Recording to Promote Accountability: Legislatures should require that police interrogations be electronically recorded “during the time in which a reasonable person in the subject’s position would consider themselves to be in custody and a law enforcement officer’s questioning is likely to elicit incriminating responses.
  • Increase the use of special prosecutors in police misconduct investigations
  • Enhancing the collection of data on fatalities involving police


  • India is the target of an ever-growing list of terrorist groups, insurgent forces and criminal networks.
  • Even petty criminals are now in possession of hi-tech gadgets that allow them better access and reduce their chances of being caught.
  • In such an environment, the need for skill and competency up-gradation of the police force is a sine qua non.

Q. What is smart policing? Considering the rise in custodial deaths give some suggestions to improve criminal justice delivery system in India.


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