Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Why police reform recommendations have not been implemented


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Implementation of the SC recommendations in Prakash Singh case

The article discusses the status of implementation of the Supreme Court directives in the Prakash Singh case by the States.

Background of the Prakash Sing judgement

  • Over the years, the National Police Commission made several recommendations for reform of the police force.
  • But many of these were not implemented effectively.
  • In 1996, two retired Directors General of Police, Prakash Singh and N. K. Singh, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) to know whether those recommendations had ever been implemented.
  • A decade later in 2006 that the Court delivered its verdict in what is popularly referred to as the Prakash Singh case.
  • In Prakash Singh v. Union of India, the SC relied on the eight reports of the National Police Commission (1979-1981) appointed by the Union.

Following are some of the recommendations and provision and status of their implementations.

Selection and minimum tenure of DGP

  • The provision regarding the selection of and minimum tenure for the DGP post has had partial if any, effect.
  • Corruption, politicking, and patronage-seeking at the top is so endemic that this provision has lost its sting.
  • The Security Commission consisting of the Home Minister, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Secretary, the DGP and five independent members is likewise ineffective.
  • How can one have at the apex of the reform system for the police those who have a vested interest in not reforming the police?

Separation between investigation and prosecution wings

  • The Commission’s recommendation that there ought to be a separation between the investigation and prosecution wings, as is the system in many developed countries, required immediate enforcement by the judiciary.
  • Doing so will help weed out the corruption in criminal investigations would get a second look by the prosecutorial wing.
  • But, for that, it would require that this department be placed not under the Home Minister, but under the Ministry of Law and Justice.
  • This was never done.

The Police Complaint Authority

  • Obviously, for police criminality, one cannot expect the police or the home department to take action against themselves.
  • An independent body was necessary.
  • The commission recommended that there should be a PCA at the state level, headed by a retired judge of the SC or high court chosen out of a panel of names proposed by the chief justice of the state.
  • A similar structure was envisaged for the PCA at the district level.
  • In addition, the PCAs would be assisted by members selected by the state from panels prepared by the State Human Rights Commission, Lokayuktas and the State Public Service Commissions.
  • The most important part of this decision was that the recommendations of the PCA would be binding on the state.
  • However, affidavits filed in the SC showed that not a single state or UT has implemented the PCA provision.
  • States have not constituted panels and appointed officials as chairpersons in the place of retired judges.
  • In many states, the name Police Complaints Authority has been changed.
  • For example, in Tripura and Mizoram, it is called The Police Accountability Commission, diverting attention away from the fact that the commission is for entertaining complaints against police persons.

Consider the question “What are the Supreme Court directives for police reform in the Prakash Singh vs. Union of India case? To what extent states have implemented these directives?” 


On police reform, the recommendations exist, the SC order has been made but the Union remains defiant. Perhaps, now, after the Maharashtra fiasco, the SC may decide that this case pending for eight years merits listing.

Back2Basics: The SC directives in the Prakash Singh case

1) Limit Political Control

  • Constitute a State Security Commission to:
  • Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.
  • Lay down broad policy guidelines.
  • Evaluate the performance of the state police.

2) Appointment based on merit

  • Ensure that the Director General of Police is appointed through a meritbased, transparent process, and secures a minimum tenure of 2 years.

3) 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 a minimum tenure of 2 years.

4) Separate police functions

  • Separate the functions of investigation and maintaining law and order.

5) 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.

6) 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.

7) 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.
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