From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Police reforms
The article highlights the challenges facing the police force in India and suggests the measures to deal with them.
Urgency of the police reforms
- In a well-ordered democracy, the police are supposed to be a disciplined force trained to uphold the law and enforce the functioning of democracy on constitutional lines.
- However, police in India suffers from a triad of malaises:
- 1) The lack of sensitisation of police personnel.
- 2) Absence of accountability.
- 3) Politicisation of the police.
Objectives of the reforms:
1) Police sensitisation about their role in society
- The sensitisation module should aim at bringing about attitudinal change in police — especially pertaining to gender and power relations and police behaviour.
- There has to be promptness of action and decency of behaviour.
- They need to be trained in body language and strictly advised to refrain from abusive behaviour.
- It is necessary to increase public confidence in the police by upgrading levels of police service delivery as well as by investigating and acting in cases of police misconduct.
2) Increasing accountability
- Public confidence in police decreases when the public perceives that police abuses are not investigated effectively.
- Enhancing accountability will improve police legitimacy and increase public confidence, which, in turn, will reinforce the integrity of the system.
- The Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, the Danish Independent Police Complaints Authority are some examples of mechanisms for accountability of the police for acts of abuse of power.
3) De-politicisation of the police
- Linked to accountability is de-politicisation of the police force.
- This is a must for the effective functioning of the country’s criminal justice system.
- The police, as the custodian of maintenance of law and order, must stay away from agenda-driven politics.
Need to resolve the structural issues
In order to achieve the above-stated objectives, structural issues within the force must be given priority.
1) Vacancies and fair representation to women
- According to a report by Common Cause in 2019, the Indian police force is at only 77 per cent of its sanctioned strength.
- India has 144 police personnel for one lakh population and, in some states, the figure is less than 100.
- One in every five posts sanctioned in the Indian Police Service remains vacant.
- In low and middle-rank posts, the vacancies of 5.28 lakh personnel account for nearly one-fourth of the total sanctioned strength of over 22 lakh.
- A fully-staffed police force would only increase India’s police-to-population ratio to 185 against the UN recommended ratio of 222.
- The police-to-people ratio should be improved by at least 50 per cent to meet the challenges faced by the force.
- Women are grossly underrepresented in our police force at less than 7 per cent of our total police strength.
- With the increase in the number of gender crimes, it has become a necessity to augment the strength of police by recruiting more and more women police personnel.
- The situation in Uttar Pradesh is the worst where police are at roughly 50 per cent of sanctioned strength.
- When the numbers are inadequate, police personnel are stretched, leading to shoddy policing.
2) Lack of in-service training
- The existing police personnel are also not adequately trained. Less than 7 per cent police get in-service training.
- Gujarat scores the lowest, with less than one per cent having received any in-service training.
3) Implementation of guidelines and recommendations
- After the National Police Commission in 1977, several committees were set up, including the Gore Committee, Padmanabhaiah Committee and Malimath Committee.
- These commissions and committees have made far-reaching recommendations.
- The top police leadership should be selected by apolitical representatives and an impartial body as suggested by Dharma Vira Commission have farsighted implications.
- It was a strong antidote to opportunistic appointments and transfers.
- Recommendations of the commission, if implemented, along with the Supreme Court directives of 2006 by Justice Sabharwal, in true letter and spirit, will go a long way in police reform.
4) Reforms in criminal justice system
- Reforms in the criminal justice system and separation of law and order from investigation and prosecution are the other areas that need the attention of the authorities.
- These aspects have been highlighted by many commissions and committees constituted by the Centre.
Consider the question “What are the challenges facing the police force in the country? Suggest the measures to deal with these challenges.”
A new role and new philosophy have to be defined for the police to not only make it a capable and effective body but also one accountable to the law of the land and to the people whom they serve.