Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Role played by judiciary in curbing police violence

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Issue of custodial death

Judiciary has played a significant role in tackling the problems of police violence. Yet, we come across some incident of violence intermittently. So, what went wrong? And what needs to be done? These issues are addressed in this article. 

Role played by judiciary

  • Supreme Court’s interventioned against police violence came through in cases such as Joginder Kumar v. State of UP [1994] and D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal [1997].
  • In these cases, guidelines to secure 2 rights – a right to life and a right to know – in the context of any state action were issued.
  • Through these guidelines, the Court sought to curb the power of arrest.
  • It also ensured that an accused person is made aware of all critical information regarding the arrest.
  • Information of arrest also has to be conveyed to friends and family immediately in the event of being taken in custody.
  • It took a decade, and in the form of amendments, as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008 to give statutory backing to these judicial guidelines.
  • It remains part of the law today.

Significance of Prakash Singh Case

  • The Supreme Court went even further in the case, Prakash Singh v. Union of India [2006].
  • In this case, it pushed through new legislation for governing police forces to be passed by States across India.
  • A key component of the new legislation was a robust setup for accountability that contemplated a grievance redress mechanism.
  • However, several States are yet to legislate on the matter and remain in contempt of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Scientific investigation

  • Judiciary has supported techniques such as narcoanalysis, ensuring video recording of investigations, passing orders for installing closed-circuit television cameras inside police stations.
  • Through technology, one can hope to reduce the need for interacting with the body as a source of evidence.
  • But how often police employ physicality to obtain evidence will remain the deciding factor.

Impeding issues

  • Despite all this, there are reports suggesting that across India there are as many as five custodial deaths a day.
  • Presence of continued institutional apathy towards the issue of police reform.
  • Judiciary’s approach of simply passing directions and guidelines, has proven to be a failure.
  • It is the ordinary magistrate, and not the constitutional court, who is the judicial actor wielding real power to realise substantial change in police practices. Hence, poor change.
  • There is a gap between the highest court and the lowly police officer in India.
  • Studies show despite criminal laws being struck down as unconstitutional, they continue to be enforced in various parts of the country by local police.

What can be done?

  • Constitutional courts could reorient their guidelines to try and change the practices of magistrates.
  • It is the local magistrate before whom all arrested and detained persons must be produced within 24 hours.
  • Thus, magistrate becomes the point of first contact for a citizen with the constitutional rule of law.
  • The overworked magistrate, struggling with an ever-exploding docket, is very often in a rush to get done with the remand case.
  • This need to change with more involvement of Constitutional courts.

Consider the question “Custodial torture is an anathema to democracy. Examine the issues related to custodial torture and how is it against the basic fundamental rights? What steps should be taken to prevent such acts by the police functionaries?”

Conclusion

The repeated instances of custodial deaths and tortures point to the inadequacies of the legal framework and lack of implementation. So, there is an urgent need for plugging the loopholes and some changes in approach.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)

Mains level : Police reforms in India

The alleged torture and custodial killing of TN father and son by police last week pointed towards a broken criminal justice system and highlighted the need for police reforms and the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).

Practice question for mains:

Q.There is an urgent need for reforming the criminal justice system in India in light of rising cases of custodial torture and killings. Comment.

United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT)

  • The UNCAT is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the UN and was adopted in 1984.
  • It aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
  • The convention requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
  • Since the convention’s entry into force, the absolute prohibition against torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment has become accepted as a principle of customary international law.

The Committee against Torture (CAT)

  • It is a body of human rights experts that monitors implementation of the Convention by State parties.
  • The Committee is one of eight UN-linked human rights treaty bodies.
  • All state parties are obliged under the Convention to submit regular reports to the CAT on how rights are being implemented.
  • Upon ratifying the Convention, states must submit a report within one year, after which they are obliged to report every four years.
  • The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “concluding observations.”
  • Under certain circumstances, the CAT may consider complaints or communications from individuals claiming that their rights under the Convention have been violated.

Optional Protocol to CAT

  • The Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) was adopted by the General Assembly on 18 December 2002.
  • It provides for the establishment of a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

India needs to ratify UNCAT

  • India signed the convention in 1997 but it remains among a handful of countries including Pakistan and China which are yet to ratify the convention.
  • India is in the company of 25 other nations which have not ratified.
  • The National Human Rights Commission had said custodial violence and torture are already “rampant” in the country.
  • About 1,731 people had died in custody in 2019 a/c to NHRC report.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Legal principles to reduce custodial deaths and torture

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Issue of custodial deaths

This article enumerates the existing legal framework to avoid custodial torture and deaths. Judiciary played a major role in the evolution of these procedures. Yet, incidents of custodial deaths happen. This points to the lack of implementation of established guidelines and procedures.

Understanding the background of problem

  • In wake of custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu, the debate on Roman dilemma: “Who will guard the guardians” rises again.
  • Torture is anathema to democracy and cannot be tolerated in a civilized society.
  • Answer to prevention of torture can be found in multiple sources like Royal Commissions in the UK, Law Commission report and Police Commission reports in India and also Supreme Court’s progressive case law, like Joginder Kumar (1994) and Nilabati Behera (1993).
  • However, the basic loophole which exists even today is that most torture is done before the arrest is recorded by the police.
  • Safeguards obviously kick in only after the arrest is shown. This is a perennial, insoluble dilemma and all devious police forces globally use it.

Supreme Court judgement in DK Basu case

  • The DK Basu judgment since 1987 is crucial in dealing with issue of custodial deaths.
  • The judgement has origin from a letter complaint in 1986, which was converted into PIL.
  • 4 crucial and comprehensive judgments — in 1996, twice in 2001 and in 2015 — lay down over 20 commandments, forming the complete structure of this judgement.

Details of judgment:

First 11 commandments in 1996, focused on vital processual safeguards:

  • All officials must carry name tags and full identification, arrest memo must be prepared, containing all details regarding time and place of arrest, attested by one family member or respectable member of the locality.
  • The location of arrest must be intimated to one family or next friend, details notified to the nearest legal aid organisation and arrestee must be made known of DK Basu judgement.
  • All such compliances must be recorded in the police register, arrestee must get periodical medical examination, inspection memo must be signed by arrestee also and all such information must be centralised in a central police control room.
  • Breach to be culpable with severe departmental action and additionally contempt also, and this would all be in addition to, not substitution of, any existing remedy.
  • All of the above preventive and punitive measures could go with, and were not alternatives to, full civil monetary damage claims for constitutional tort.

8 other intermediate orders till 2015:

  • Precise detailed compliance reports of above orders to be submitted by all states and UT and any delayed responses to be  looked into by special sub-committees appointed by state human rights body.
  • Also where no SHRC existed, the chief justice of the high courts to monitor it administratively.
  • It emphasised that existing powers for magisterial inquiries under the CrPC were lackadaisical and must be completed in four months, unless sessions court judges recorded reasons for extension.
  • It also directed SHRCs to be set up expeditiously in each part of India.

The third and last phase of judgment ended in 2015:

  • Stern directions were given to set up SHRCs and also fill up large vacancies in existing bodies.
  • The power of setting up human rights courts under Section 30 of the NHRC Act was directed to be operationalised.
  • All prisons had to have CCTVs within one year.
  • Non-official visitors would do surprise checks on prisons and police stations.
  • Prosecutions and departmental action to be made unhesitatingly mandated.

Where do we lack?

  • In operationalising the spirit of DK Basu judgment, in punitive measures, in last mile implementation, in breaking intra-departmental solidarity with errant policemen and in ensuring swift, efficacious departmental coercive action plus criminal prosecution.
  • A 1985 Law Commission report directing enactment of section 114-B into our Evidence Act, raising a rebuttable presumption of culpability against the police if anyone in their custody dies or is found with torture, has still not become law, despite a bill introduced as late as 2017.
  • We still have abysmally deplorable rates of even initiating prosecutions against accused police officers. Actual convictions are virtually non-existent.

Consider the question “Custodial torture is an anathema to democracy. Examine the issues related to custodial torture and how is it against the basic fundamental rights? What steps should be taken to prevent such acts by the police functionaries?”

Conclusion

Monitoring and implementation of DK Basu by independent and balanced civil society individuals at each level, under court supervision, is sufficient to minimise this scourge. It is high time we take actions in this direction.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Private: Why India Should ratify anti-torture convention?

The alleged torture and custodial killing of TN father and son by police last week pointed towards a broken criminal justice system and highlighted the need for police reforms and the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT).

State of torture in India

    • Common cause survey – Common Cause’s recent large national-level survey on the Status of Policing in India affirms violent means
      • 3 out of 5 personnel believe there is nothing wrong with beating up criminals.
      • 4 out of 5 think it’s okay to bash them up to extract a confession.
      • 1 in 5 even believes that killing dangerous criminals is better than a legal trial.
    • These show the poor orientation towards working within the law; the deep sub-culture of ferocious machismo; and the tolerance for illegality within the supervisory cadre.
    • These results show the confidence of torturers that no consequences will flow from even extreme acts of cruelty.
    • When instances of torture become known, a pocketful of ready excuses are used to defend the – necessity, poor working conditions, no other means, mental tension, and pressure from within and without.
    • Poor capacity – generations of active policemen don’t know that any assault and victimisation of anyone that is not entirely in self-defense is prohibited by law.

Need for an anti-torture law

  • Failed extradition requests: India has made many requests for extradition of offenders from other countries, and the absence of an anti-torture law may prevent these countries from acceding to India’s requests. Earlier this month, extradition courts in the United Kingdom refused to send two persons to India to face trial, one of them on the ground that there was “no effective system of protection from torture in the receiving state”
  • No detailed provisions – At present, only a few sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Indian Penal Code criminalise torture and custodial deaths.
  • Protection of human rights: Ratifying the UN Convention and following it up with a domestic law against torture will not only be in the national interest but also have positive implications for the protection of human rights
  • Preventing custodial violence: Custodial violence continues to be prevalent in the country. The recent example of a bus conductor being forced to confess to murdering a schoolchild is a pointer to the use of torture as an investigative tool among policemen
  • Rise in incident:  2019 – NHRC has registered over 400 cases of alleged deaths in police custody and over 5,000 cases pertaining to deaths in judicial custody. For the past three years alone, these have regularly clocked in at over a thousand a year.

Efforts made by the Government

  • Convention – India signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1997. But ratification needs us to pass laws at home that reflect the articles in the UN law.
  • In 2017, under the Universal Periodic Review process 29 countries made 37 recommendations that India take urgent steps to stop the torture.
  • 2010 law – the Prevention of Torture Bill lapsed.
  • 2016 – Law Commission drafted a more diluted version.

Role played by judiciary

  • Supreme Court’s interventioned against police violence came through in cases such as Joginder Kumar v. State of UP [1994] and D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal [1997].
  • In these cases, guidelines to secure 2 rights – a right to life and a right to know – in the context of any state action were issued.
  • Through these guidelines, the Court sought to curb the power of arrest.
  • It also ensured that an accused person is made aware of all critical information regarding the arrest.
  • Information of arrest also has to be conveyed to friends and family immediately in the event of being taken in custody.
  • It took a decade, and in the form of amendments, as the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act, 2008 to give statutory backing to these judicial guidelines.
  • It remains part of the law today.
  • Scientific investigation: Judiciary has supported techniques such as narcoanalysis, ensuring video recording of investigations, passing orders for installing closed-circuit television cameras inside police stations.

Law Commissions recommendation

  • The Law Commission of India has recommended the Centre to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture and frame a standalone anti-torture law directly making the State responsible for any injury inflicted by its agents on citizens.
  • The State shall not claim immunity from the actions of its officers or agents.
  • The State should own the responsibility for injuries caused by its agents on citizens while dealing with the plea of sovereign immunity, the courts will bear in mind that it is the citizens who are entitled for fundamental rights, and not the agents of the State.
  • The Commission has asked the government to ratify the U.N. Convention Against Torture to tide over the difficulties faced by the country in extraditing criminals.

Way ahead

  • A specific anti-torture law needs to be detailed, comprehensive and conform to international standards.
  • It will need to have a broad descriptive definition of torture that includes mental torture.
  • Monitoring and implementation of DK Basu by independent and balanced civil society individuals at each level, under court supervision, is sufficient to minimise this scourge.
  • It should make it easier to prove as has been done in the case of custodial rape.
  • Fix responsibility not only on the perpetrator but on those who allow it to happen under their watch.
  • Make punishment more stringent especially where there has been sexual violence and ensure the state compensates and cares for its victims.
  • Bypass the hurdles of Section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code which requires permission before public servants can be prosecuted for actions done in the course of his duty.
  • The new legislation is only a beginning. Actualisation will take much more.
  • Exhortations will not stop the torture. Having policies, practices and performance in place to demonstrate implementation, will.
  • The police force has to be reoriented, investigators have to be skilled up with modern techniques of detection and forensic capacities across the country to be ramped up.
  • It needs long-delayed human rights courts to be set up with specially trained judges in place.
  • It needs agencies like local legal aid authorities to have clear guidelines to assist where there are allegations of torture.
  • It requires overseeing bodies like the many human rights commissions and police complaints authorities to do the same.
  • The police force should have zero-tolerance. It should reinvent its purpose — not as an oppressive force, but as a service whose main work is the protection of the lives and liberties of each of us.
  • The Common Cause survey of 12,000 personnel at police stations uncovers the truth we all know — that political interference in the investigation is near omnipresent.

B2BASICS:

UN Convention against Torture

  • The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is commonly known as the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT).
  • It came into force in June 1987.
  • It is an international human rights treaty, under the review of the UN that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment around the world.
  • It requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction, and forbids states to transport people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be tortured.
  • India is a signatory to the convention (since 1997) and is bound by the principle of jus cogens that ensures human rights to those who are tortured and persecuted.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Private: Need for Police reforms in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Need for Police Reforms

  • The Police system in India and its sorry state once again came to the fore recently when a father-Son duo, namely P Jeyaraj (58) and Fenix (31) respectively, died in Police custody in Tamil Nadu. The relatives and protestors fear this to be a case of police brutality.
  • The reason for their arrest was that they kept their shop open beyond permitted time (restrictions placed in the light of COVID-19).
  • This comes amid the cases of police brutality across the country and the recent uproar over the George Floyd case.

Historical Background

  • The Police System is a colonial legacy. The first Police commission was set up in 1857 soon after the mutiny. First Indian Police Act was enacted in 1861
  • Post – independence, we are still governed majorly by Indian Police Act (IPA) of 1861 which was drafted as a direct consequence of the Revolt of 1857.
  • Sir A H L Curzon commission was established in 1902-03 for Police Reforms and to look into issues arising because of Indian police Act 1861. It recommended the appointment of local people at officer level in the police system.
  • National Police Committee, 1978 was the first commission at the national level after independence.
  • It had a broad term of reference covering the police organization, its role, functionality, accountability, relations with the public etc.
  • It produced eight reports including Model Police Act, between 1979-81. But the majority of recommendations of NCP have remain unimplemented.

Major issues with Police in India

  • Huge vacancies: With the phenomenal expansion of the geographic area to be policed and the increase in the number of lives to be guarded, the Indian police, more than in many western democracies, have been stretched and outnumbered. There are only about 140 policemen per 100,000 people, a very poor ratio when compared to other modern democracies.
  • Over-burden: Police force is over-burdened especially at lower levels where constabulary is forced to work continuously for 14-16 hours, 7 days a week. It adversely impacts their performance.
  • Arduous nature of duties and working conditions: The nature of the duties is very uncertain and the police itself say that policemen are on duty all the time – it’s a violation of Human Rights.
  • Risk to life: The risk to life in Police is very high. Policemen are killed in India in the performance of duties than in any other country of the world. There’s no indication that in future the risk element would be less.
  • Police Infrastructure:The weaponry, vehicles etc. used by police force at lower level is obsolete and is unmatched with the modern weaponry used by the criminals and anti-social elements.
  • Qualifications and training of police personnels: Police training methods have been out dated and aspects of human rights are largely ignored in training modules.
  • Training of police officials is heavily biased in favour of higher level officials. 94% of the total training expenditure is on IPS officers’ training.
  • Unscientific criminal investigation techniques and lack of training in Human rights lead to inhuman techniques of investigation like the third degree which consists of hammering iron nails in the body, beating the soles of the feet, stretching apart the legs in opposite direction, hitting private part and other draconian acts.
  • Politicization of Police: Politicization of a police force is a major problem as it affects the autonomy of police force making them to subserve the interests of political executive at the cost of ordinary citizens.
  • CID at the state level has failed to perform because of political cases led by the ruling parties against their opponents and because of excessive political interference by political executive.
  • Lack of coordination between centre and states is a matter related to maintenance of law & order results in ineffective functioning of police force.
  • The dual command at district and state levels have resulted in the problem of co-ordination between the civil servants and police officials because of ego clashes and inconceivable personal differences.
  • Ineffectiveness against new forms of crimes: Police force is not in the position to tackle present days’ problems of cyber-crimes, global terrorism, naxalism because of its structural weaknesses.
  • Aversion towards usage of technology among police personnel
  • Underutilisation of funds for modernisation: Both centre and states allocate funds for modernisation of state police forces.
  • These funds are typically used for strengthening police infrastructure, by way of construction of police stations, purchase of weaponry, communication equipment and vehicles.
  • However, there has been a persistent problem of underutilisation of modernisation funds.
  • Prevailing Corruption: The pay scales of police personnel especially at the lower levels are very low and they are forced to adopt corrupt means to earn their livelihood.
  • Prevalence of Rank system within the police force results in abuse of power by top level executive over lower level personnel.

Committee related to police reforms 

  • Gore committee on police training in 1971-73: The main thrust of the Committee’s recommendations was towards enlarging the content of police training from law and order and crime prevention to a greater sensitivity and understanding of human behaviour.
  • National police commission 1977, major recommendations were centered on the problem of insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference.
  • In 2000, the Padmanabhaiah Committee on PoliceReforms was constituted to study, inter alia, recruitment procedures for the police force, training, duties and responsibilities, police officers’ behaviour, police investigations and prosecution.
  • The Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC or Soli Sorabjee Committee) that drafted a new model police bill to replace the colonial 1861 Police Act.

Supreme Court Judgments: 

  • The 2006 verdict of the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh vs Union of India case was the landmark in the fight for police reforms in India. The Court provide following directives to kick-start reforms:
    • Constitute a State Security Commission (SSC) to ensure that state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.The main functions of the SSC were supposed to include drafting broad policy guidelines, evaluating the performance of the police and preparing an annual report to be placed before the legislature.
    • Ensure that the DGP is appointed through the merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.
    • Police officers on operational duties (including SP and SHO) are also provided a minimum tenure of two year.
    • Separate the investigation and law and order functions of the police.
    • Set up a Police Establishment Board (PEB)to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of police. 
    • Set up a Police Complaints Authority (PCA)at state level to inquire into public complaints against police officers above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
    • Set up a National Security Commission (NSC) at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organizations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.

NITI Aayog suggested the following reforms:

State level legislative reforms:

  • States should be encouraged, with fiscal incentives, to introduce ‘ The Model Police Act of 2015’ as it modernizes the mandate of the police.

Administrative and operational reform

  • A Task Force must be created under the MHA to identify non-core functions that can be outsourced to save on manpower and help in reducing the workload of the police.
  • Functions such as serving court summons and antecedents and addresses verification for passport applications or job verifications can be outsourced to private agents or government departments.
  • The states should be encouraged to ensure that the representation of women in the police force is increased.
  • India should launch a common nation-wide contact for attending to urgent security needs of the citizens.
  • NITI Aayog also suggests moving police as well as public order to the Concurrent List to tackle increasing inter-state crime and terrorism under a unified framework.

Best Practices: 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. Janamaithri Suraksha Committees are also formed with municipal councillors, representatives of residents’ associations, local media, high schools and colleges, retired police officers, etc. to facilitate the process. 

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. 

Solutions:

  • Need to strengthen Criminal Justice System and grassroots level policing institutions.
  • Strengthen its investigative capabilities and emergency response infrastructure.
  • More investment is needed in the recruitment procedure.
  • Better training, better pay and allowances and creating a system that rewards initiatives need to be incorporate.
  • Increase budget expenditure on police.
  • Improving police infrastructure.
  • Independent Complaints Authority.
  • Need to adopt latest IT- enabled services.
  • Improve Citizen police participation like bhagidari in delhi and janamaitri suraksha in kerala
  • Police should be made more gender sensitive. 33% women reservation in police should be implemented
  • There is need for broader political awareness about the need for police reform. Some states like Kerala and Telangana have tried to take the process forward.
  • PM Modi, at the Guwahati Conference of the Directors of General Police in 2014, enunciated the concept of SMART Police-a police which should be sensitive, mobile, alert, reliable and techno-savvy.From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

    Prelims level : About the report

    Mains level : Need for Police Reforms

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Cop out in Delhi

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much.

Mains level : Paper 2- Need for the police reforms.

Context

Political parties across the spectrum escape the blame for continuing to use the police as an instrument to further their political agenda.

The backdrop of violence in protest against CAA in Delhi

  • The culmination of dithering by police: It was the culmination of weeks of dithering and selective action on the part of the Delhi Police in dealing with those agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
  • No preventive action is taken: No preventive action appears to have been taken, and when the national capital was rocked by agitators in different areas the police appeared to have been caught by surprise.
  • Hesitation in acting against the rioters: There appeared to be hesitation on the part of the police in taking firm action against the rioters who continued to be on the rampage, destroying public and private property.
    • There was a disturbing scene of a rioter openly brandishing his firearm at a policeman.

Disturbing patterns in the Police actions

  • Delhi Police- The extremes of action and inaction: The Delhi Police is the best-resourced police in the country.
    • It is looked upon as a model by state police forces across the country. Its response, in fact, shows a disturbing pattern.
    • There have been extremes of action and inaction.
    • Forcible entry: In Jamia Millia Islamia, the police is alleged to have entered the campus forcibly and roughed up students after their march against the CAA turned violent.
    • Inexplicable delay: In JNU, there was an inexplicable delay in responding to violence by a group of outsiders within the campus.
  • Bengal Police-Turning blind eye to rioters’vandalism: In West Bengal, with Mamata Banerjee leading the charge against the CAA, the message to the police was clear.
    • They turned Nelson’s eye to rioters’ vandalising government and private property; the Eastern Railways alone suffered a loss of Rs 72.19 crore.
  • Uttar Pradesh Police- Excesses committed during protests.
    • In UP, where over 20 people were killed, the Allahabad High Court has called for a detailed report on the alleged police excesses.
  • Karnataka Police- Over-zealousness.
    • In Karnataka, the High Court has blamed the Mangaluru police of “over-zealousness” in dealing with the anti-CAA protests.
  • Party bias in the Police actions: Police response invariably reflects the bias of the ruling party.
    • The partisan police response to situations, which were strikingly similar, has caused dismay and consternation among the people.
    • One must get to the root of the problem.

Observations and the Supreme Court guidelines

  • National Police Commission observation: The National Police Commission recorded as far back as 1979 that “the present culture of the police system appears a continuation of what obtained under the British regime when the police functioned ruthlessly as an agent for sustaining the government in power”.
    • In such a situation, the Commission went on to say, “police find it difficult to play their lawful role and make their performance acceptable to the people at large”.
  • The Supreme Court directions: The Supreme Court issued a set of six directions in 2006 to state governments with a view to transforming the ethos and working philosophy of the police.
    • Setting up the State Security Commission: The SC’s most important direction was about setting up of a State Security Commission with a view to insulate the police from external pressures.
    • It is true that several states have enacted laws purportedly in compliance with the Supreme Court’s orders.
    • Recommendation not supported in letter and spirit: But these acts, as their critical examination reveals, violate the letter and spirit of the judicial directions. The old order continues for all practical purposes.
  • The Justice Dhingra Committee report on anti-Sikh riots: In its recently released report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, the report slammed the Union government and the Delhi Police.
    • It observed that a large number of crimes remained unpunished for the simple reason that there was “lack of interest shown by the police and by the authorities in handling these cases as per law or to proceed with the intention of punishing the culprits”.
    • The effort of the police and the administration “seems to have been to hush up the criminal cases concerning riots”.

Way forward

  • Implement the recommendations of NPC: It is unfortunate that the NPC recommendations have not been acted upon even after the Supreme Court’s directions. No wonder, in the recent agitation in different states, the police have acted in the manner they did.
  • Interference of the political parties need to be reduced: The police are, no doubt, to blame for not being able to function in an objective and impartial manner. There is definitely a failure of leadership also. The political leadership need to ensure the autonomy of the police.
  • Role of media: The media cannot escape its responsibility for treating the police as a convenient punching bag from time to time and not taking up the cause of police reforms as aggressively as it should be doing.
  • Introspection by the Supreme Court: The Supreme Court would also need to introspect as to why the implementation of its directions has been so ineffective.

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Supreme Court panel recommends several prison reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Prision reforms

The Supreme Court has taken up a report on Prison Reforms for hearing on before a Bench led by CJI Sharad A. Bobde.

About the Committee

  • The court had in September 2018 appointed the Justice Roy Committee to examine the various problems plaguing prisons, from overcrowding to lack of legal advice to convicts to issues of remission and parole.
  • Besides Justice Roy, a former Supreme Court judge, the members included an IG, Bureau of Police Research and Development, and the DG (Prisons), Tihar Jail.

Various recommendations

  • Every new prisoner should be allowed a free phone call a day to his family members to see him through his first week in jail.
  • This is among the several recommendations — besides modern cooking facilities, canteens to buy essential items and trial through video-conferencing.
  • The report described the preparation of food in kitchens as “primitive and arduous”.
  • The kitchens are congested and unhygienic and the diet has remained unchanged for years now.

Staffing the prisons

  • The court said overcrowding is a common bane in the under-staffed prisons. The Prison Department has a perennial average of 30%-40% vacancies.
  • Both the prisoner and his guard equally suffer human rights violation.

Speedy trial

  • The undertrial prisoner, who is yet to get his day in court, suffers the most, languishing behind bars for years without a hearing.
  • Speedy trial remains one of the best ways to remedy the unwarranted phenomenon of over-crowding.
  • The report concluded that most prisons are “teeming with undertrial prisoners”, whose numbers are highly disproportionate to those of convicts.
  • It said there should be at least one lawyer for every 30 prisoners.

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Private: Anticipatory Bail

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Anticipatory Bail

Mains level : Purpose of the Anticipatory Bail

  • The Supreme Court has ruled that no time restriction should ordinarily be fixed for anticipatory bail and that it can continue even until the end of the trial.
  • The protection granted under Section 438 of the CrPc should not invariably be limited to a fixed period deciding a reference made to it following “conflicting views of some other benches of the court.

What is anticipatory bail?

  • A Law Dictionary describes ‘bail’ as procuring “the release of a person from legal custody, by undertaking that he shall appear at the time and place designated and submit himself to the jurisdiction and judgement of the court.”
  • As opposed to ordinary bail, which is granted to a person who is under arrest, in anticipatory bail, a person is directed to be released on bail even before arrest made.

Section 438 of the CrPC, 1973, lays down the law on anticipatory bail:

  • Sub-section (1) of the provision reads: “When any person has reason to believe that he may be arrested on an accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence, he may apply to the High Court or the Court of Session for a direction under this section; and that Court may, if it thinks fit, direct that in the event of such arrest, he shall be released on bail.”
  • The provision empowers only the Sessions Court and High Court to grant anticipatory bail.

Rationale behind anticipatory bail

  • Anticipatory bail became part of the new CrPC in 1973 (when the latter replaced the older Code of 1898), after the 41st Law Commission Report of 1969 recommended the inclusion of the provision.
  • The necessity for granting anticipatory bail arises mainly because sometimes influential persons try to implicate their rivals in false cases for the purpose of disgracing them or for other purposes by getting them detained in jail for some days.
  • Apart from false cases, where there are reasonable grounds for holding that a person accused of an offence is not likely to abscond, or otherwise misuse his liberty while on bail, there seems no justification to require him first to submit to custody, remain in prison for some days and then apply for bail.”
  • In the 1980 Gurbaksh Singh Sibbia vs State of Punjab case, a SC bench ruled that S. 438 (1) is to be interpreted in the light of Article 21 of the Constitution (protection of life and personal liberty).

Conditions while granting anticipatory bail

  • While granting anticipatory bail, the Sessions Court or High Court can impose the conditions laid down in sub-section (2).
  • 438(2) reads: When the High Court or the Court of Session makes a direction under sub-section (1), it may include such conditions in such directions in the light of the facts of the particular case, as it may think fit, including —
  1. a condition that the person shall make himself available for interrogation by a police officer as and when required;
  2. a condition that the person shall not, directly or indirectly, make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case so as to dissuade him from disclosing such facts to the Court or to any police officer;
  3. a condition that the person shall not leave India without the previous permission of the Court;
  4. such other condition as may be imposed under sub-section (3) of section 437, as if the bail were granted under that section.”

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Blue Corner Notice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ‘Blue Corner’ notice

Mains level : Cooperation measures for International policing

Interpol has issued a Blue Corner notice to help locate an infamous fugitive self-styled godman weeks after the Gujarat Police sought the agency’s intervention for this.

 ‘Blue Corner’ notice

  • According to the Interpol website, “Notices are international requests for cooperation or alerts allowing police in member countries to share critical crime-related information.”
  • There are seven types of notices — Red Notice, Yellow Notice, Blue Notice, Black Notice, Green Notice, Orange Notice, and Purple Notice.
  • The Blue Notice is issued to “collect additional information about a person’s identity, location or activities in relation to a crime.”

Blue notices a/c to CBI

  • The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) website refers to Blue Notices as ‘B Series (Blue) Notices’.
  • It says, “The ‘B’ series notices are also called ‘enquiry notices’ and may be issued in order to have someone’s identity verified; to obtain particulars of a person’s criminal record; to locate someone who is missing or is an identified or unidentified international criminal or is wanted for a violation of ordinary criminal law and whose extradition may be requested.”

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Police Commissionerate System

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Police Commissionerate System

Mains level : Read the attached story

The UP Cabinet has approved the Commissionerate system of policing for state capital Lucknow, and Noida.

The Police Commissionerate System

  • The system gives more responsibilities, including magisterial powers, to IPS officers of Inspector General of Police (IG) rank posted as commissioners.
  • Under the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, ‘Police’ is under the State list, meaning individual states typically legislate and exercise control over this subject.
  • In the arrangement in force at the district level, a ‘dual system’ of control exists, in which the Superintendent of Police (SP) has to work with the District Magistrate (DM) for supervising police administration.
  • At the metropolitan level, many states have replaced the dual system with the commissionerate system, as it is supposed to allow for faster decision-making to solve complex urban-centric issues.

Additional powers to Police

  • In this system, the Commissioner of Police (CP) is the head of a unified police command structure, is responsible for the force in the city, and is accountable to the state government.
  • The office also has magisterial powers, including those related to regulation, control, and licensing.
  • The CP is drawn from the Deputy Inspector General rank or above, and is assisted by Special/Joint/Additional/Deputy Commissioners.

Where is the system in force?

  • Previously, only four cities had the system: Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai.
  • However, with rapid urbanisation, states felt an increasing need to replicate the system in more places.
  • The sixth National Police Commission report, which was released in 1983, recommended the introduction of a police Commissionerate system in cities with a population of 5 lakh and above, as well as in places having special conditions.
  • Over the years, it has been extended to numerous cities, including Delhi, Pune, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. By January 2016, 53 cities had this system, a PRS study said.
  • Depending on its success, the policing system may gradually be implemented in other districts as well.

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[op-ed snap] For a humane and autonomous police

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Policing challenges

Context

These are tumultuous times for the Indian police in their bid to maintain law and order. After losing the debate inside Parliament, certain elements have chosen to take some contentious issues out to the streets.

Binary picture

  • Protests and demonstrations form the core of democracy and are unexceptionable as long as they do not disrupt the life of the common man or cause damage to public property. 
  • In an ideal world, we may expect this clear-cut theoretical proposition to work perfectly. 
  • But in the raw violence-prone streets of the present times, this clinical allocation of respective space repeatedly proved to be mere pontification. 
  • Some media reporting has tended to be one-sided, tending to portray the police as the villain of the piece and the protesters as harmless and pacifist. 
  • This binary picture is blind to the truism that the police do enjoy a measure of operational autonomy, free from the dictates of other state agencies.

Shadow of politics

  • It is too simplistic to look upon the police as merely an agency that has been caught in the crossfire between the establishment and protesters. 
  • The vicissitudes of politics over the decades have deprived police the luxury of resting on the statute book and responding to a developing situation.
  • They will now have to be proactive and react within split seconds to an incendiary situation arising from contentious political situations. 
  • While doing so they are bound to overstep the contours of law. 

Campuses

  • It is fallacy to argue that the police cannot enter campuses unless they are invited to do so by heads of institutions.
  • In Jamia Millia, the police appeared to have taken the initiative when no such invitation was forthcoming. 
  • There is no law that prohibits such police entry on their own, and any attempt to frame such a law will be preposterous to the core. 
  • The police are obligated under law to intervene wherever and whenever they apprehend danger to lives.
  • The statement of the English jurist, Lord Denning says “… (it) is for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, or the chief constable, as the case may be, …….to decide on the disposition of his force and the concentration of his resources on any particular crime or area. No court can or should give him direction on such a matter…”

On the measure of force

  • Another bone of contention relates to the quantum of force that the police can use in quelling disorder. 
  • There is no scientific formula that applies to explosive scenes that have become routine in the national capital.
  • The amount of force used in such situations can vary significantly and will be related mainly to the strength of the mob, its composition, its mood and the kind of weapons it has at its command. 
  • The use of stones has become the most favorite, because of ease of availability and potency. 
  • To say that the police or any security agency should not overreact to this kind of barbarity is unfair.
  • Mob control techniques are a part of the police curriculum in major training institutions. Their impact depends on the imaginative nature of the instruction. 
  • In the wake of violence across the country, police leadership should concentrate on this important aspect of policing.

Conclusion

  • In a democracy such as ours, we certainly need civilized and humane police. 
  • This should not dilute the need to have a potent force that will not hesitate to use the resources at its command.
  • It should re-emphasize the dictum that democracy can flourish only when violence is checked and not allowed to hold sway. 
  • There is a crucial need for senior police officers to devote time to improving the quality of policing in the field, instead of frittering away their energies in concentrating on “politician management”.

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Explained: How Section 144 CrPC works

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Section 144

Mains level : Section 144 : Circumstances of its use and abuse

Various state governments have sought to ease down on the anti CAA demonstrations by issuing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code Of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973.  The entire state of Uttar Pradesh is under this provision since few days.

What is Section 144?

  • Section 144 CrPC, a law retained from the colonial era, empowers a district magistrate, a sub-divisional magistrate or any other executive magistrate specially empowered by the state government in this behalf to issue orders to prevent and address urgent cases of apprehended danger or nuisance.
  • The magistrate has to pass a written order which may be directed against a particular individual, or to persons residing in a particular place or area, or to the public generally when frequenting or visiting a particular place or area.
  • In emergency cases, the magistrate can pass these orders without prior notice to the individual against whom the order is directed.

What powers does the administration have under the provision?

  • The magistrate can direct any person to abstain from a certain act or to take a certain order with respect to certain property in his possession or under his management.
  • This usually includes restrictions on movement, carrying arms and from assembling unlawfully.
  • It is generally believed that assembly of three or more people is prohibited under Section 144. However, it can be used to restrict even a single individual.
  • This is likely to prevent, or tends to prevent, obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquility, or a riot, of an affray.
  • However no order passed under Section 144 can remain in force for more than two months from the date of the order, unless the state government considers it necessary.
  • Even then, the total period cannot extend to more than six months.

Why is the use of power under Section 144 criticised so often?

  • The criticism is that it is too broad and the words of the section are wide enough to give absolute power to a magistrate that may be exercised unjustifiably. T
  • he immediate remedy against such an order is a revision application to the magistrate himself.
  • An aggrieved individual can approach the High Court by filing a writ petition if his fundamental rights are at stake.
  • However, fears exist that before the High Court intervenes, the rights could already have been infringed.
  • Imposition of Section 144 to an entire state, as in UP, has also drawn criticism since the security situation differs from area to area.

How have courts ruled on Section 144?

  • The first major challenge to the law was made in 1961 in Babulal Parate vs State of Maharashtra and Others.
  • A Bench of the Supreme Court refused to strike down the law, saying it is “not correct to say that the remedy of a person aggrieved by an order under the section was illusory”.
  • It was challenged again by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya in 1967 and was once again rejected, with the court saying “no democracy can exist if ‘public order’ is freely allowed to be disturbed by a section of the citizens”.
  • In another challenge in 1970 (Madhu Limaye vs Sub-Divisional Magistrate), a seven-judge Bench headed by then CJI M Hidayatullah.
  • It ruled that the power under Section 144 is not an ordinary power flowing from administration but a power used in a judicial manner and which can stand further judicial scrutiny”.
  • The court, however, upheld the constitutionality of the law.
  • It ruled that the restrictions imposed through Section 144 cannot be held to be violative of the right to freedom of speech and expression, which is a fundamental right because it falls under the “reasonable restrictions”.

Does Section 144 provide for communications blockades too?

  • The rules for suspending telecommunication services, which include voice, mobile internet, SMS, landline, fixed broadband, etc, are the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
  • These Rules derive their powers from the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885, Section 5(2) of which talks about interception of messages in the “interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India”.
  • However, shutdowns in India are not always under the rules laid down, which come with safeguards and procedures.
  • Section 144 CrPC has often been used to clamp down on telecommunication services and order Internet shutdowns.

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Trakea software for criminal investigation

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Trakea

Mains level : Police and investigational reforms

Haryana Police has adopted unique bar-coding software Trakea to ensure tamper-free criminal investigation.

Why need such a system?

  • As per the conventional practice all over the country, the crime exhibits are labeled with complete details, including the case FIR number; the police station; and the names and addresses of the victim, accused, medical officers, etc.
  • With these details available, the crime exhibits can be easily traced and tracked by virtually anyone.
  • The crime exhibits could include DNA samples, documents, and reports of ballistics examinations, serology, biology, toxicology, lie-detection, etc.
  • From the time the sample is collected to the time when forensic experts draw their final conclusion, there are multiple stages where the accused can use their influence to tamper with the sample in order to get a favourable forensic report.

Trakea software

  • Essentially, it is a forensic evidence management system that helps in automation of the entire procedure, right from the stage when forensic experts collect vital samples from the scene of crime.
  • Trakea is aimed at ensuring security and a tamperproof tracking system for forensic reports. It streamlines the functioning of Forensic Science Laboratories.
  • Even the selection of forensic teams is done randomly through this software.
  • Trakea ensures foolproof security of the samples collected from the scene of crime, and the forensic analysis reports, and is different from traditional methods that the state police force has been following for decades.
  • Haryana Police claims it is the country’s first police force to have introduced this unique bar-coding for forensic reports.

Its development

  • The software was originally designed by a prisoner who was lodged in Bhondsi jail for 13 months.
  • A software engineer by profession, the man was facing charges of having murdered his wife, but was ultimately acquitted by the trial court.
  • The same software engineer had earlier designed a software digitizing data pertaining to prison inmates and prison operations across all 19 jails of Haryana.
  • Using this software, the judiciary too will be able to track the forensic examination report during the trial, significantly cutting down on delays.

Actual working

  • The system includes features of two-stage bar-coding to maintain the secrecy of the samples, sent along with a strong, unbroken biometrically authenticated chain of custody trial.
  • It is coupled with features to eliminate chances of pick-and-choose by automated case allocation to the scientists, followed by report-generation and real-time tracking of the status of cases through automated e-mail and SMS notifications.
  • Also, there will be no case details mentioned on the crime exhibits/samples/parcels except the unique bar code that can only be read through the biometric system.

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Virtual Autopsy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Virtopsy

Mains level : State of policing in India and desired reforms

It is likely to be possible soon to carry out autopsies without dissecting the body, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan informed Rajya Sabha.  India will be the first country in South and Southeast Asia to carry out these virtual autopsies.

What is a Virtual Autopsy OR Virtopsy?

  • A general autopsy is a highly specialized surgical procedure that consists of a thorough examination of a corpse to determine the cause and manner of death and to evaluate any disease or injury that may be present.
  • In a virtual autopsy, doctors use radiation to examine the innards to reach a conclusion about the cause of death.
  • A CT or an MRI machine could be used, in the same way that they are used to scan a living human’s body.

Why opt Virtopsy?

  • The traditional postmortem often makes members of the dead person’s family uncomfortable.
  • Virtopsy can be employed as an alternative to standard autopsies for broad and systemic examination of the whole body as it is less time consuming.
  • It aids better diagnosis and renders respect to religious sentiments.
  • Virtopsy is also faster than a traditional one — 30 minutes against 2½ hours.
  • India has taken up this project for “dignified management of dead body”.

When is this service likely to start?

  • The AIIMS New Delhi and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) are working together on a technique for postmortem without incising/dissecting the body.
  • This technique is likely to become functional in the next six months.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

State of Policing in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : India Justice Report 2019

Mains level : State of policing in India and desired reforms


  • The first edition of the India Justice Report — brought out by the Tata Trusts with various partners was recently released.
  • It highlighted some shortcomings about the state of Policing in India.

Policing in India

  • The report underscores the capacity deficit plaguing policing in the country.
  • According to the report, only 1 of the 22 states for which data were available, was able to fully utilise its police modernization fund.
  • Over the past five years, in just 14 of the 33 states and UTs for which data are available, police expenditure grew more than the state’s overall expenditure.
  • The tables refer only to the 18 large- and mid-sized states where 90% of India’s population lives. The map shows the three states that spent the least and the most respectively on police per person in 2015-16.
  • The report also found that on average there were more than 20% vacancies in the police.

Vacancies

  • Tables 1, 2 and 3 detail the worst performers among the major states when it comes to vacancies related to SCs, STs and OBCs respectively.
  • In 2009, the Government of India had adopted a target of 33% reservation for women in police. As of January 2017, women make up just 7% of police.
  • Table 4 details the number of years required by some states to achieve the 33%-mark at the current rate.

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[op-ed snap] The law isn’t enough

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Limitations of a law against lynching

Context

The absence of figures relating to incidents of lynching in the recently released NCRB database on the pretext that the data received from the states were “unreliable” hints at a deliberate attempt to keep the figures under wraps.

Lynching data

  • Figures available from various other sources indicate that in 63 incidents, 28 persons were killed between 2010 and 2017, of which 24 were Muslims.
  • There have been 266 cases of lynching since 2014 and this continues to show an upward trend.

Role of police

  • In some incidents, the police have been part of the lynching mob.
  • Police has played a partisan role in most incidents of lynching. There have been cases where policemen acted promptly and prevented incidents of lynching. 

Law against lynching

  • The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and all states to frame stringent laws against lynching. 
  • Manipur passed an anti-lynching law last November. Rajasthan and West Bengal have passed such legislation more recently.
  • West Bengal’s law is stringent, punishing with death those held guilty of lynching victims to death. 

Limitations of law

  • Laws will be futile unless they are strictly enforced on the ground. 
  • Political patronage to fundamentalist elements will deter the policemen from doing their duty.

Other corrective steps needed

  • Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has stressed the need to take stringent action against officials for dereliction of their duties. 
  • The district magistrate and police officers can be imprisoned for a term extending upto three years with a fine upto Rs 5000.
  • Monitoring fake news and arresting those who originate and forward news that could trigger mob violence or communal unrest.
  • The police has to spread its intelligence dragnet such that any plan to upset the law and order machinery is reported to the control room within minutes. 
  • Districts that are communally sensitive ought to have additional armed and well-equipped companies to rush to any spot within minutes to handle frenzied mobs.
  • Prompt investigations into incidents of mob lynching should be followed by arrests and trial by fast track courts.
  • The police should protect the witnesses and the victims. 
  • Lynching must be made a non-bailable offence. 
  • Policemen who watch as mute spectators should also be tried in the same manner as the culprits. Senior police officers also need to be taken to task if found guilty of dereliction of duty.

By Explains

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Indian Penal Code

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : IPC

Mains level : Need for revamping the colonial era IPC


  • The Home Ministry is all set to overhaul the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

About IPC

  • The Indian Penal Code (IPC) is the official criminal code of India.
  • It is a comprehensive code intended to cover all substantive aspects of criminal law.
  • The code was drafted in 1860 on the recommendations of first law commission of India established in 1834 under the Charter Act of 1833 under the chairmanship of Macaulay.
  • It came into force in British India during the early British Raj period in 1862.
  • However, it did not apply automatically in the Princely states, which had their own courts and legal systems until the 1940s.
  • The Code has since been amended several times and is now supplemented by other criminal provisions.

Why IPC needs revamp?

  • The rebooting of IPC introduced by the British in 1860 was necessary as it is primarily based on the spirit of “master and servant.”
  • In the British era, the police were raised to protect their interests, but now their duty is to “protect the people”.
  • There is uneven punishment for crimes of grievous nature. For example — snatching of chains or bags on road. It could be life-threatening in some cases but the punishment is not commensurate with the gravity of the crime.
  • Depending on the whims of the police, it is booked under robbery or theft. We have to standardize the punishment.

Earlier amendments

  • In 2016, the Home Ministry had proposed insertion of two stricter anti-racial discrimination provisions in the IPC.
  • The two amendments — Section 153A and Section 509A “to deal with racially motivated crimes” received lukewarm response from the States.

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[op-ed snap] Reform, not compliance

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Torture - UN Convention

Context

Common Cause’s recent survey on the Status of Policing in India affirmed that some in the police force find nothing wrong with beating up criminals to extract a confession. 

Torture – mechanisms against it 

    • Torture is not justified under any circumstance. It is a wound in the soul that demeans society.
    • UN convention – India signed the UN Convention Against Torture in 1997, but is yet to ratify it by enacting the law on torture. 
    • Instruments to deal with torture – there are instruments in place to take immediate action in torture cases. 
      • Any custodial or other cases of death in police custody is enquired by a magistrate and in some cases, a judicial inquiry
      • Criminal cases can also be instituted against the accused policemen. 
    • Actions taken – Complaints against policemen have been filed in courts, which have taken severe action in such cases. 
    • Infrastructure –  Installation of CCTV cameras covering hawalat rooms in police stations has been made mandatory. 
    • NHRC – National Human Rights Commission acts as the watchdog of human rights. 

To do

    • Justice to victims – The state must ensure that they deliver justice to the victims of human rights abuse. 
    • Police Complaints Authority – Government must implement the Supreme Court’s directive on setting up a Police Complaints Authority in every state of India.
    • Ratify convention – The Law Commission of India in its 273rd report recommended that the government ratify the convention. 
    • Prevention of Torture Bill – The Commission also presented a draft of the bill to the government.

Treaty not panacea

    • Cases of police torture still surface in all the 160 nations that have enacted laws on torture to ratify the treaty. 
    • Case of Pakistan – Detainee torture and custodial deaths remain at a disturbingly high level in Pakistan (signed and ratified the convention). 
    • China signed and ratified the treaty. Yet, the country is condemned for horrific state repression while interrogating detainees and suppressing political dissent. 

Reality of policing

    • Poor Infrastructure
      • Police stations in outlying rural areas lack even the basic technology, forensic aid and materials for crime detection. 
      • Many of them are located in signal gap zones, where mobile phones barely work and internet connectivity is weak or non-existent. 
      • The roads are unmotorable. 
      • A single big police station looks after 70 to 80 villages in large states.
      • The building infrastructure in many cases is still poor and unliveable — forget about interrogation or detention cells. 
    • Manpower deficit – India’s police force is grossly overworked. 
    • Political interference – The heavy pendency of work is coupled with brazen political interference. 
    • Work stress is inordinately high and the quality of life poor and demotivating. 
    • Rate of detection – The urgency to improve the crime detection rate is a matter of constant worry. 
    • All this does make the police lose patience in trying to bring cases to a quick culmination.

Way ahead to tackle the problem

    • Infrastructure – 
      • All police stations need to be provided with modern-day amenities and connectivity. 
      • A dire need is state-of-the-art technology and equipment to promote hassle-free interrogation and crime detection. 
    • Training – The police force needs to be trained at regular intervals and special training should be imparted to the state police personnel by the CBI on questioning suspects. 
    • Criminal justice system – Working on the long-pending gaps in the criminal justice system may disincentivise torture. 
      • Separation of the law and order and investigation wings at police stations
      • Strengthening the prosecution apparatus 
      • Provision of legal advisors in the district police set up
    • A sustained focus on Ease of Doing Policing and measures for empowering the police within a well-established accountability framework could prove to be the biggest step towards reducing this practice. 
    • The recruitment process for the police has to be equipped with modern psychoanalytic tools to shun the entry of those with a grain of brutality.

Conclusion

The ratification of the UN convention against torture needs to be done in letter and spirit. Unless we upgrade our infrastructure, ramp up our capacities, strengthen our police force, enacting the Prevention of Torture Bill will be just another exercise of official compliance to free our conscience.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Making crime less dark

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Victimisation survey - efficient crime data

CONTEXT

The absence of exact data on crime could pose serious problems. In India, crime is under-reported and under-registered.

Crime data

    • Popular perception associates many cities and states in India with a crime. Going by official statistics, the country has one of the lowest incidences of crime in the world. 
    • India’s crime rate is 379.3 per 1,00,000 persons
    • Cases of dacoity, attempt to murder, robbery, rape, and riot have gone down by 36.11%, 16.26%, 20.15%, 0.78%, and 54% respectively in 2018 as compared to the year before. 

Problems with crime data

    • The manner in which crime data are collected and compiled. 
      • Crime data in India are collected and published by NCRB
      • The data reported in this publication is based on the crime reported to local police stations
      • Police stations getting information about the crime is one thing and such incidents being recorded as an FIR is another. 
    • Challenges of a complainant – All kinds of pressures and obstacles are put on a complainant, especially when the nature of crime is that of sexual assault, domestic violence or when it involves family members, relatives or powerful people. 
    • There is enormous resistance put up by the police station personnel in registering such crimes or reducing the seriousness of the incident.
    • The NCRB data fall short of expectations in many respects. 
      • It is short on information about crime victims and witnesses
      • The official statistics miss out on several key areas such as the profile of victims, their personal characteristics, victim-offender relationship, FIR registration experiences, experiences of interacting with police, number of days and time taken in getting FIR registered, instances of intimidation, pressure experienced from the accused or associates including police, nature of injury, medical assistance, information about legal aid, compensation.

The potential of a victimisation survey

    • A victimisation survey is often seen as a solution to such shortcomings. 
    • Many countries have conducted victimisation surveys to supplement their official crime data, India has yet to make a start. 
    • Such surveys reveal details that are missed out by the local police
    • They describe how crime has impacted the lives of victims and convey their safety concerns.
    • These surveys gather information through personal or telephonic interviews with a set of people who represent the geographical and social correlates of a city or state over a period of time. 
    • The information may detail the victimisation suffered by a person but not recorded by the police for a variety of reasons. 
    • The other data include risk and vulnerability, perceptions about the local police and the views of people about the criminal justice system.
    • The data generated by such surveys are considered more reliable than the official statistics on crime. 
    • Such surveys are conducted by professionally-competent organisations and the state funds the processes involved in the generation of data.

Case studies across the world

    • The Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) measures the amount of crime by asking people about their experiences as crime victims.
    • In the US, the National Crime Victimisation Survey (NCVS) presents data that is collected from a nationally-representative sample of about 2,40,000 interviews on criminal victimisation.
    • The European Crime and Safety Survey (EU ICS) is the most comprehensive analysis of crime, security, and safety in the European Union.
    • The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) launched the International Crime Victimisation Survey (ICVS), which produces more comparable data across nations. 

Indian crime data – road ahead

    • India-specific yardsticks, which the NCRB does not cover, could be evolved. 
    • There could be several challenges to such surveys. People might not reveal more than what they have divulged to the police.
    • There are several methodological innovations to overcome bottlenecks.
    • It should be assigned to an institution that specialises in criminology, victimology and criminal justice administration. 
    • It should involve a nuanced understanding of the facets of crime and victimisation.

 


Back2Basics

The National Crime Records Bureau, abbreviated to NCRB, is an Indian government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code. NCRB is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

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[pib] Emergency Response Support System  

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ERSS

Mains level : Policing reforms

  • The MHA has launched three citizen centric services of the Chandigarh Police.
  • These valuable public services would effectively reduce the response time of police to address the distress calls of the public and strengthen the police-public interface endeavour of community policing.

 Emergency Response Support System

  • ERSS is one of the key projects of the Union MHA under Nirbhaya Fund.
  • It has been designed to play a pivotal role in mitigation or preventing escalation of crime, especially against women and children.
  • ERSS provides a single emergency number (112), computer aided dispatch of field resources to the location of distress.
  • Citizens can send their emergency information through call, sms, email and through the 112 India mobile app.
  • The ‘Dial 112’ emergency response service is an initiative to strengthen proactive community policing that would end confusion amongst distress callers, who at times end up dialling 100 in fire or medical emergency cases.

E-Beat Book

  • The ‘E-Beat Book’ is a web and mobile based application which will ease the collection, updation and analysis of the information related to crime and criminals in a real time.
  • In each division, there is one ‘Atal Sehbhagita Kendra’that is under the supervision of a Beat Officer, having an Android Phone to the use the app.
  • The E-Beat Book would be linked with Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS), which would help in a real time updation of crime/criminal data.
  • The citizen can directly approach the‘Atal Sehbhagita Kendra’ for redressal of their grievances and can render their suggestions too.

E-Saathi App

  • The ‘E-Saathi’ App would help the general public, including senior citizens, to remain in touch with the police and also give suggestions to facilitate participative community policing (‘Your Police at Your Doorstep’ initiative).
  • The beat officer would be able to provide services like passport verification, tenant verification, servant verification, character certification etc. at a click of a button through the app, without the people needing to visit the police station.
  • With this initiative, on one hand, where the beat officer would become more efficient in his/her working, this would make police-people communication a two-way process, on the other.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Interpol General Assembly

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : INTERPOL

Mains level : INTERPOL and its mandate


  • India has proposed to Interpol that the General Assembly of the organization be held in New Delhi in 2022 as part of the nation’s 75th Independence Day celebrations.

The Interpol

  • The Interpol (International Criminal Police Organisation) is a 194-member intergovernmental organisation headquartered in Lyon, France.
  • It was formed in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission, and started calling itself Interpol in 1956.
  • India joined the organisation in 1949 (1956 as per wiki), and is one of its oldest members.
  • Interpol aims to “help police in all… (its member countries) to work together to make the world a safer place”.
  • It enables police forces from different countries to share and access data on crimes and criminals, and offers a “range of technical and operational support”.
  • Interpol’s declared global policing goals include countering terrorism, promoting border integrity worldwide, protection of vulnerable communities, providing a secure cyberspace for people and businesses, curbing illicit markets, supporting environment security, and promoting global integrity.

General Assembly

  • The General Assembly is Interpol’s supreme governing body, and comprises representatives from all its member countries.
  • The General Assembly meets annually for a session lasting approximately four days, to vote on activities and policy.
  • Each country is represented by one or more delegates at the Assembly, who are typically chiefs of law enforcement agencies.
  • The General Assembly also elects the members of the Interpol Executive Committee, the governing body which “provides guidance and direction in between sessions of the Assembly”.
  • Major trends in crime and security threats facing the world are also discussed.

Assembly Resolutions

  • The General Assembly’s decisions take the form of Resolutions.
  • Each member country has one vote.
  • Decisions are made either by a simple or a two-thirds majority, depending on the subject matter.
  • General Assembly Resolutions are public documents.
  • Interpol recognises that “as the largest global gathering of senior law enforcement officials, the General Assembly also provides an important opportunity for countries to network and share experiences”.

Assembly hosts

  • The Interpol’s 88th General Assembly will assemble in Santiago, Chile, later this year.
  • The 2018 (87th), 2017 (86th), 2016 (85th), and 2015 (84th) General Assemblies met in Dubai, UAE, Beijing, China, Bali, Indonesia, and Kigali, Rwanda, respectively.
  • Kim Jong Yang of South Korea was elected president of Interpol for a two-year term until 2020 by the General Assembly in Dubai.
  • The Secretary General of Interpol since 2014 has been Jürgen Stock of Germany.
  • He is the organisation’s senior full-time official who oversees the day-to-day running of the Interpol General Secretariat. (Stock met Union Home Minister in New Delhi last week.)

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Interpol Red Notice

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Interpol, Red notice

Mains level : INTERPOL and its mandate


  • Union Home Minister has conveyed to Interpol Secretary-General that India would like the international police agency to expedite its process of publishing Red Notices (RNs).
  • As many as 18 requests for RNs from India are pending with Interpol, including against famous fugitives hiding abroad.

Red Notices (RNs)

  • Criminals or suspects often flee to other countries to evade facing justice. An RN alerts police forces across the world about fugitives who are wanted internationally.
  • Interpol describes an RN as “a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action”.
  • RNs contain information that helps identify wanted persons, such as their names, dates of birth, nationality, and physical attributes such as the colour of their hair and eyes.
  • It also includes pictures and biometric data such as fingerprints, if they are available.

Not a warrant of arrest

  • The Interpol itself does not want individuals; they are wanted by a country or an international tribunal.
  • Also, an RN is an international wanted persons’ notice; it is not an international arrest warrant.
  • Which means that the Interpol cannot compel the law enforcement authorities in any country to arrest the subject of an RN.
  • It is up to individual member countries to decide what legal value to give to an RN, and the authority of their national law enforcement officers to make arrests.

Why RN?

  • RNs mention the crime(s) they are wanted for.
  • An RN is published by Interpol at the request of a member country.
  • The fugitives may be wanted for prosecution or to serve a sentence.
  • The country issuing the request need not be the home country of the fugitive; Interpol acts on the request of a country where the alleged crime has been committed.
  • In cases where the help of the public is needed to locate an individual, or if those individuals pose a threat to public safety, a public extract of the RN is published on the Interpol’s website.

Importance of RNs

  • RNs are issued to simultaneously alert police in all member countries about internationally wanted fugitives.
  • An RN can help bring a fugitive to justice, sometimes many years after the crime was committed.
  • However, because an RN is not an arrest warrant, action against a fugitive frequently rests on the diplomatic clout that the country making the request has with the country where the fugitive is located.
  • Nations with a big international profile, and economic or political heft, are often more successful than the rest.

Checks and balances

  • The Interpol says that an RN must comply with its constitution and rules.
  • It says that “every Red Notice request is checked by a specialised task force to ensure it is compliant with (Interpol) rules”.
  • The Interpol argues that an RN is issued only after a competent court has taken cognizance of a chargesheet against the fugitive.
  • In the case of Nirav Modi, the CBI filed a chargesheet in May 2018, and Interpol issued an RN in July that year.
  • However, in the case of Choksi, India has been frustrated: while the chargesheet was filed in June 2018, the RN is yet to be issued.

Back2Basics

INTERPOL

  • The International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) is an international organization that facilitates worldwide police cooperation and crime control.
  • Headquartered in Lyon, France, it was founded in 1923 as the International Criminal Police Commission (ICPC).
  • NTERPOL provides investigative support, expertise, and training to law enforcement worldwide in battling three major areas of transnational crime: terrorism, cybercrime, and organized crime.
  • Its broad mandate covers virtually every kind of crime, including crimes against humanity, child pornography, drug trafficking and production, political corruption, copyright infringement, and white-collar crime.
  • The agency also helps coordinate cooperation among the world’s law enforcement institutions through criminal databases and communications networks.
  • India accepted Interpol membership in June 1956.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Status of Policing in India Report 2019

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the report

Mains level : Need for Police Reforms

  • In a new report that looks at the working conditions of police in India, one key finding is about the political pressure perceived by police, and the extent to which this hampers their investigations.

About the Report

  • ‘Status of Policing in India Report 2019: Police Adequacy and Working Conditions’ has been prepared by Common Cause and the Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Key Findings

  • 28% police personnel believe that pressure from politicians is the biggest hindrance in a crime investigation.
  • Taking into account various kinds of obstacles, 2 in 5 police personnel believe that these pressures are the biggest obstacle in crime investigation.
  • The other obstacles cited were related to society, legal systems and internal working systems in police.

Popular cases

  • 38% personnel reported always facing pressure from politicians in cases of crime involving influential persons.
  • Roughly one third also reported “always” facing pressure from their seniors in the police force.
  • This proportion drops to one-fifth of the police “always” facing pressure from media, while about 14% reported that they “always” faced pressure from human rights organisations/NGOs, judiciary and the common public in cases involving influential people.

Minorities at risk

  • One in two police personnel surveyed feel that Muslims are likely to be “naturally prone” to committing crimes.
  • It also found that 35 per cent of police personnel interviewed for the survey think it is natural for a mob to punish the “culprit” in cases of cow slaughter, and 43 per cent think it is natural for a mob to punish someone accused of rape.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

VIP security in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various security agencies mentioned

Mains level : Not Much

  • The Central government has withdrawn Special Protection Group (SPG) security cover for a former PM.
  • The former PM will now be given Z-plus cover by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF).

SPG and SPG Act

  • After Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own security guards in 1984, the Rajiv Gandhi government decided to create a special cadre of security personnel for the PM.
  • In March 1985, following the recommendations of a committee set up by the Home Ministry, a special unit was created for this purpose under the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • This unit, initially called the Special Protection Unit, was renamed as Special Protection Group in April 1985.
  • Subsequently, the Parliament passed The Special Protection Group (SPG) Act, which was notified in June 1988 “to provide for the constitution and regulation of an armed force of the Union for providing proximate security to the Prime Minister of India and for matters connected therewith”.

Security under the SPG Act

  • The SPG Act defined “proximate security” as “protection provided from close quarters, during journey by road, rail, aircraft, watercraft or on foot or any other means of transport” and to “include the places of functions, engagements, residence or halt”.
  • The SPG protective cover goes with the person of the protectee as the shadow would a man. It is for the SPG to devise how to render meaningful protection to the protectee.
  • SPG personnel can be seen around the Prime Minister of India at all times.

Who are covered?

  • SPG protection was extended, apart from the PM, to “former PMs of India and members of their immediate families” through an amendment in the Act in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991.
  • Rajiv Gandhi had lost SPG cover after being defeated in the Lok Sabha elections of 1989.
  • The Act was subsequently amended again in 1994 and 1999.

Categories of security

  • Besides the SPG, VIPs in India are protected by other security forces as well.
  • The levels of security cover are determined by the threat perception around the individual.
  • The highest level of security cover is the Z-plus category, followed by Z, Y, and X categories.
  • The higher the level of cover, the larger the number of personnel protecting the individual.
  • Roughly 24-36 personnel with automatic weapons are deployed for Z-plus category protectees and 16-20 personnel guard Z-category protectees.
  • The elite ‘Black Cat’ commandos of the NSG are deployed to protect VIPs for whom the threat perception is the highest.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[pib] Witness Protection Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Mandate of the scheme

  • Minister of State for Home Affairs informed about the scheme in a written reply to question in the Rajya Sabha.

Witness Protection Scheme

  • Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 provides for protection of witnesses based on the threat assessment and protection measures.
  • It includes protection/change of identity of witnesses, their relocation, installation of security devices at the residence of witnesses, usage of specially designed Court rooms, etc.
  • As per Article 141/142 of the Constitution, the Witness Protection Scheme, 2018 endorsed in the said Judgment of the Supreme Court is binding on all Courts within the territory of India and enforceable in all States and Union Territories.

Other Provisions of the scheme

  1. Witness Protection Fund means the fund created for bearing the expenses incurred during the implementation of Witness Protection Order passed by the Competent Authority under this scheme;
  2. Witness Protection Order means an order passed by the Competent  Authority detailing the steps to be taken for ensuring the safety of witness from threats to his or his family member’s life, reputation or property.  *It also includes interim order, if any passed, during the pendency of Witness Protection Application;
  3. Witness Protection Cell means a dedicated Cell of State/UT Police or Central Police Agencies assigned the duty to implement the witness protection order. It shall be responsible for the security as per witness protection order.

Proposed Rights to be entitled to the Witness

  • Right to give evidence anonymously
  • Right to protection from intimidation and harm
  • Right to be treated with dignity and compassion and respect of privacy
  • Right to information of the status of the investigation and prosecution of the crime
  • Right to secure waiting place while at Court proceedings
  • Right to transportation and lodging arrangements

About Witness Protection Fund

  • The Scheme provides for a State Witness Protection Fund for meeting the expenses of the scheme.
  • This fund shall be operated by the Department/Ministry of Home under State/UT Government and shall comprise of the following:
  1. Budgetary  allocation  made  in  the  Annual  Budget  by  the State Government;
  2. Receipt of amount of costs imposed/ ordered to be deposited by the courts/tribunals in the Witness Protection Fund;
  3. Donations/ contributions from Philanthropist/ Charitable Institutions/ Organizations   and individuals permitted by the Government.
  4. Funds contributed under Corporate Social Responsibility.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Automated facial recognition: what NCRB proposes, what are the concerns

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Automated Facial Recognition System

Mains level : Need for an advanced criminal tracking system

  • On June 28, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) released a Request for Proposal for an Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to be used by police officers across the country.

What is automated facial recognition?

  • AFRS works by maintaining a large database with photos and videos of peoples’ faces.
  • Then, a new image of an unidentified person — often taken from CCTV footage — is compared to the existing database to find a match and identify the person.
  • The artificial intelligence technology used for pattern-finding and matching is called “neural networks”.
  • Currently, facial recognition in India is done manually.

Are there any automated facial recognition systems in use in India?

  • It is a new idea the country has started to experiment with.
  • On July 1, the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s “DigiYatra” using facial recognition for airport entry was tried in the Hyderabad airport.
  • State governments have also taken their own steps towards facial recognition. Telangana police launched their own system in August 2018.

What does the NCRB request call for?

  • The NCRB, which manages crime data for police, would like to use automated facial recognition to identify criminals, missing people, and unidentified dead bodies, as well as for “crime prevention”.
  • Its Request for Proposal calls for gathering CCTV footage, as well as photos from newspapers, raids, and sketches.
  • The project is aimed at being compatible with other biometrics such as iris and fingerprints.
  • It will be a mobile and web application hosted in NCRB’s Data Centre in Delhi, but used by all police stations in the country.

Why need AFRS?

  • Automated Facial Recognition System can play a very vital role in improving outcomes in the area of Criminal identification and verification by facilitating easy recording, analysis, retrieval and sharing of Information between different organisations.
  • While fingerprints and iris scans provide far more accurate matching results, automatic facial recognition is an easier solution especially for identification amongst crowds.
  • The integration of fingerprint database, face recognition software and iris scans will massively boost the police department’s crime investigation capabilities.
  • It will also help civilian verification when needed. No one will be able to get away with a fake ID.

Integration of databases

  • NCRB has proposed integrating this facial recognition system with multiple existing databases.
  • The most prominent is the NCRB-managed Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems (CCTNS).
  • Facial recognition has been proposed in the CCTNS program since its origin.
  • The new facial recognition system will be integrated with Integrated Criminal Justice System (ICJS), as well as state-specific systems, the Immigration, Visa and Foreigners Registration & Tracking (IVFRT), and the Khoya Paya portal on missing children.

What are the concerns around using facial recognition?

  • Cyber experts across the world have cautioned against government abuse of facial recognition technology, as it can be used as tool of control and risks inaccurate results.
  • Amid NCRB’s controversial step to install an automated facial recognition system, India should take note of the ongoing privacy debate in the US.
  • In the US, the FBI and Department of State operate one of the largest facial recognition systems.
  • International organisations have also condemned the Chinese government on its use of surveillance cameras and facial recognition to constrict the rights of Uighurs, a mostly Muslim minority.

Back2Basics

CCTNS

  • In 2009, following the Mumbai terror attacks, CCTNS was envisaged as a countrywide integrated database on crime incidents and suspects, connecting FIR registrations, investigations, and chargesheets of all 15,500 police stations and 6,000 higher offices.
  • It also plans to offer citizen services, such as passport verification, crime reporting, online tracking of case progress, grievance reporting against police officers, and more.

How far has CCTNS progressed?

  • The Rs 2,000-crore project is accessible to the CBI, IB, NIA, ED and the Narcotics Control Bureau.
  • The project did not meet its initial 2015 deadline and was extended to March 2017.
  • In August 2018, the first phase of connecting the police stations was nearly complete.
  • In the second phase, the Home Ministry proposed integrating the database with the fingerprint database of the Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB).
  • NCRB is currently rolling out the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) and its integration with CCTNS.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] The state of Indian prisons

CONTEXT

The release of the data-driven report, the Prison Statistics India 2016, published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in April went largely unnoticed.

Background

  • This edition of the report is different from its earlier versions on account of its omission of certain key demographic data.
  • Despite these gaps, the report raises a number of red flags signalling the rot in India’s prison system.

Data released

  • The report tells us that at the end of 2016, there were 4,33,033 people in prison; of them 68% were undertrials, or people who have yet to be found guilty of the crimes they are accused of.
  • India’s under-trial population remains among the highest in the world  and more than half of all undertrials were detained for less than six months in 2016.
  • This suggests that the high proportion of undertrials in the overall prison population may be the result of unnecessary arrests and ineffective legal aid during remand hearings.

Findings of Reports 

1.Missing data on religion and caste –

  • The most significant shortcoming of the report lies in the NCRB’s failure to include demographic details of religion and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe status of prisoners, which are crucial to understanding India’s prison population.
  • This information was consistently published for the last 20 years and instrumental in revealing the problematic overrepresentation of Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis among under-trials in prisons.
  • The report of 2015, for instance, said that Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis accounted for 55% of the under-trial population even though they made up only 50% of the convict population and 38% of the total Indian population.

2.Rise under preventive detention –

  • Another disturbing point is the rise in the number of people held under administrative (or ‘prevention’) detention laws in Jammu and Kashmir (a 300% increase).
  • Administrative, or ‘preventive’, detention is used by authorities in J&K and other States to unfairly detain persons without charge or trial and circumvent regular criminal justice procedures.

3.Data on prisoner release

But a new and important addition to the report is the number of prisoners eligible to be released and actually released, under Section 436A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which allows undertrials to be released on a personal bond if they have undergone half of the maximum term of imprisonment they would have faced if convicted. 

Law Commission’s recommendations –

  • In 2017, the Law Commission of India had recommended that undertrials who have completed a third of their maximum sentence for offences attracting up to seven years of imprisonment be released on bail.
  • Perhaps the NCRB should consider including the number of such undertrials in its upcoming report for informing the policy on the use of undertrial detention.

 

4.Mental health concerns

  • The rate of suicide among prisoners also increased by 28%, from 77 suicides in 2015 to 102 in 2016.
  • For context, the National Human Rights Commission in 2014 had stated that on average, a person is one-and-a-half times more likely to commit suicide in prison than outside, which is an indicator perhaps of the magnitude of mental health concerns within prisons.
  • The report states that there was only one mental health professional for every 21,650 prisoners in 2016, with only six States and one Union Territory having psychologists/psychiatrists.

Way Forward

  • All things considered, the report has important information which can be used to facilitate a dialogue on improving prison policies.
  • But these conversations will be limited and the public’s right to know about the functioning of the criminal justice system thwarted if critical information is delayed inordinately or withheld without credible reason.
  • The NCRB’s apparent reluctance to be prompt and open about its prison statistics does not bode well for the democratic discourse in India.

By Explains

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CBI

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • Reversing the predecessor decision, new CM of AP has decided to allow the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to go ahead with its raids and investigations in the State without prior permission of the State government.

Background

  • Few days back AP and WB governments withdrew “general consent” to the CBI for investigating cases in their respective states.
  • The state governments said they had lost faith in the CBI in the backdrop of its internal turmoil marked by the open war among the agency’s top officers.
  • They have also alleged that the Centre is using the CBI to unfairly target Opposition parties.

General Consent

  • Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
  • This makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
  • There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general.
  • Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.

When is Consent needed?

  • General consent is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent.
  • Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
  • For example, if it wanted to investigate a bribery charge against a Western Railway clerk in Mumbai, it would have to apply for consent with the Maharashtra government before registering a case against him.

What does withdrawal mean?

  • It means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in these two states without getting case-specific consent.
  • Withdrawal of consent simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.

Under what provision has general consent been withdrawn?

  • Section 6 of the Act says, nothing contained in Section 5 shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or Railway, area, without the consent of the Government of that State.
  • In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No 25 of 1946), the government can withdraw the general consent to exercise the powers and jurisdiction.

Is it the first time a state government has withdrawn consent?

  • Over the years, several states have done so, including Sikkim, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka — which stands out as an example.
  • In 1998, the Janata Dal-led government had withdrawn general consent.
  • In 1999, the S M Krishna-led government took over and did not revoke earlier order.
  • The CBI had to virtually close down its office.
  • It had to seek permission of the state government for every case and every search it conducted on central government employees.

Does that mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case in the two states?

  • The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed.
  • Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
  • There is ambiguity on whether the agency can carry out a search in either of the two states in connection with an old case without the consent of the state government.

Legal Remedies for CBI

  • The CBI can always get a search warrant from a local court in the state and conduct searches.
  • In case the search requires a surprise element, there is CrPC Section 166, which allows a police officer of one jurisdiction to ask an officer of another to carry out searches on his behalf.
  • And if the first officer feels that the searches by the latter may lead to loss of evidence, the section allows the first officer to conduct searches himself after giving a notice to the latter.

What happens in Fresh Cases?

  • Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of Andhra and Bengal.
  • The CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to probe people inside the two states.
  • An October 2018, order of the Delhi HC made it clear that the agency can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn “general consent” if the case is not registered in that state.
  • The order was given with regard to a case of corruption in Chhattisgarh, which also gives consent on a case-to-case basis.
  • The court ordered that the CBI could probe the case without prior consent of the Chhattisgarh government since it was registered in Delhi.

Mere out of fear of Political Misuse

  • If a state government believes that the ruling party’s ministers or members could be targeted by CBI on orders of the Centre, and that withdrawal of general consent would protect them.
  • This is a wrong assumption.
  • CBI could still register cases in Delhi which would require some part of the offence being connected with Delhi and still arrest and prosecute ministers or MPs.
  • The only people it will protect are small central government employees.

Back2Basics

Central Bureau of Investigation: Composition, Functions

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Just recompense

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Compensation to victims should be institutuionalised.

CONTEXT

Compensation for Bilkis Bano underlines the state’s obligation for horrific crimes. In ordering the Gujarat government to pay ₹50 lakh to Bilkis Yakoob Rasool Bano, a gang-rape survivor of the 2002 communal pogrom in the State who has bravely fought her case, the Supreme Court has endeavoured to achieve restitutive justice.

Compensation to victim

  • Less recognised in Criminal Justice System – Compensation to victims is a relatively less recognised component of criminal justice.
  • State’s obligation to victims – In a system that focusses mainly on the accused, an order of compensation is as recognition of the state’s obligation to victims of crime, especially horrific acts.
  • Handing over the fine amounts paid by the accused as part of their sentence is one aspect of such justice; another aspect is for the court to ask the government to compensate the victim from its own coffers.

Judgement by the court in Bilkis Bano Case

The court was told that she was leading an itinerant, hand-to-mouth existence. It is in these circumstances that the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi awarded her ₹50 lakh, besides asking the State government to provide her with a government job and a house.

Background of the case

  • Ms. Bano’s case is indeed a rare one: criminal prosecution resulted in conviction and life sentences to 11 persons.
  • The sentences were upheld by the Bombay High Court.
  • Inaction on the part of the police – Further, the court found deliberate inaction on the part of some police officers and that the autopsies were perfunctory and manipulated.
  • The Supreme Court has asked for the pension benefits of three police officers to be withdrawn.
  • State’s Inaction – In short, this is a concrete instance of state inaction and negligence that would normally justify the payment of a hefty compensation.

Existing provision  on Victim Compensation

  • Not every crime would have a similar set of circumstances.
  • While convictions are not easy to come by in cases of mob violence, victim compensation may often be the only way to ensure some justice.
  • Section 357A – The Code of Criminal Procedure was amended in 2008 to insert Section 357A under which every State government has to prepare a scheme to set up a fund from which compensation can be paid to victims of crime and their dependants who have suffered loss and injury and who may require rehabilitation.
  • Central Victim Compensation Fund – The Centre has a Central Victim Compensation Fund.
  • Compensation Scheme – On Supreme Court directions, the National Legal Services Authority has prepared a compensation scheme for women victims and survivors of sexual assault and other crimes. Many States have notified schemes on these lines.

Conclusion

While on paper there is a mechanism to assess rehabilitation needs and pay compensation, there is a need to streamline the schemes and ensure that the compensation process is not done in an ad hoc manner, but is based on sound principles.

 

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] A law for the CBI

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing much

Mains level: The newscard comprehensively explains instances of the weakening of CBI and why there is a need of making a law.


NEWS

CONTEXT

The CBI, legally known as Delhi Special Police Establishment, has been in  controversies lately. It can not function in a state unless the matter is referred to it by a high court or the Supreme Court or by the consent of the state government concerned.

Need to make a law for CBI

  • There was always a demand for an all-India legislation to give the CBI statutory powers over central government employees posted anywhere in the country.
  • State governments have resisted such a law on the plea that a central agency would take away the powers of policing vested in them.
  • The ruling party in a state, sometimes genuinely and many times on flimsy grounds, has denied permission to the CBI to investigate matters. Recently, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, and earlier Karnataka, Nagaland and Sikkim had withdrawn consent to the CBI to operate.
  • Recent turmoil was in Kolkata, when the CBI team tried to enter the residence of the Kolkata police commissioner, either to interrogate him or to intimidate him.

Other Instances

  • There have been other instances when the CBI faced off with other law enforcement agencies like the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Income Tax Authorities (ITA), Directorate of Enforcement and police forces of different states.
  • These were also due to the CBI lacking legal powers to operate on an all-India basis.
  • Such instances do not sit well with a system where rule of law is paramount.

Conclusion

There is an urgent need to giving statutory backing to the CBI on an all India basis with a constitutional amendment, with the consent of at least half of the state legislatures. Otherwise, such conflict will recur and eventually give rise to unnecessary controversies.

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[pib] All India Citizens Survey of Police Services

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the Survey

Mains level: Policing Reforms


News

All India Citizens Survey of Police Services

  • A globally accepted way to assess the impact or outcomes of such endeavors is through a holistic analysis of services rendered to the public, through public perception surveys conducted by professional and independent agencies.
  • Such surveys are globally tested tools for improving service delivery in policing and enhancing public satisfaction.
  • With the above aim and to further strengthen the good governance practices in the working of police, Ministry of Home Affairs has commissioned the Bureau of Police Research and Development to conduct this pan-India survey.
  • The survey will be conducted through the National Council of Applied Economic Research, New Delhi.

Aims and Objectives

  • To understand public perceptions about Police
  • Gauge the level of non-reporting of crimes or incidents to Police
  • The position on ground relating to crime reporting & recording
  • Timeliness and quality of police response and action, and
  • To assess citizens’ perception and experience about women and children’s safety

Conduct of the Survey

  • The survey will commence in March, 2019 and cover a representative sample of 1.2 lakh households spread over 173 districts across the country.
  • It will be based on the National Sample Survey framework.
  • All States and UTs would be included in this survey and will be completed in 9 months.

Expected Outcomes

  • The outcome of the survey is expected to bring out useful suggestions for stakeholders in formulating and implementing appropriate policy responses.
  • It will imbibe changes in the functioning of police at the cutting edge and for improve crime prevention and investigation.
  • It will cater to transformation in community policing, improvement in the access to the justice and increased/ appropriate resource allocation for police in a systematic manner.

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Policeman, train thyself

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intelligence Bureau

Mains level: The urgent need for police reforms in India


Context

Police officials meet

  1. This month, the most senior police officials from across the country will gather to discuss important matters of national concern
  2. With them will be a smattering of the senior bureaucracy and visiting ministers
  3. The meeting is a closed-door affair under the aegis of the Intelligence Bureau
  4. Given the feverish attention they have received from the media, it is no surprise that this year’s hot topics include fake news, lynchings, and the newly-invented but undefined “urban naxal”
  5. Beyond these external threats are the perennial internal infirmities of policing arising out of multiple injuries inflicted on the police by themselves and the political executive. These have endured and festered

Acoountability in question

  1. There is too much long-term evidence to deny the depth of the malady
  2. The Emergency, the violence against Sikhs in 1984, the Gujarat violence of 2002, the repeated accusations of extra-judicial killings and excess use of force, the selective use of process to target minorities and opponents of the establishment, the frequent failures of intelligence and the inability to ensure an environment of safety for women have all been too well documented to bear denial

What can police officers do for reforming the system?

  • Closing ranks against criticism
  1. Today, the leadership resists accountability, hides behind Sections like 197, refuses to face up to the use of torture yet swears they do more to “discipline” their own than any other service
  2. Ideally, senior police officers should welcome as allies the human rights commissions and the newly-minted Police Complaints Authorities rather than strongly resist and disobey their attempts at ensuring accountability wherever possible
  • Taking steps towards people’s participation
  1. Working with the people they are meant to serve rather than in isolated splendour is another sure means of arriving at better policing
  2. Police stations must be reclaimed as the public utilities they are, rather than the unapproachable bastions they have become
  3. Localised policing plans can be made in consultation with the public
  4. Beat policing, as has been successfully managed in Kerala, can become a universal means of being visible and keeping in touch with the community
  5. Police personnel of all ranks can be incentivised to live within the communities they serve rather than in “lines” that re-enforce a defensive sub-culture that views the public with suspicion
  • Better training
  1. Training is a singular gateway to checking for bad seeds and creating skilled individuals
  2. Presently, even the fanciest brick-and-mortar training institutions reinforce a regimentation of the mind over knowledge and initiative
  3. Manned all too often by side-lined, unskilled and often disgruntled teachers, course content privileges marching and drill over testing for prejudice, imparting forensic and conflict resolution skills, or seriously inculcating constitutional values
  4. It would take very little for the collective leadership to prioritise the reform of training
  • Recalibrating staff connections
  1. Democratic policing must be able to demonstrate democratic values — like equality
  2. The “orderly” system and other similarly demeaning duties forced on trained police personnel symbolise unrecognised talent, inferiority and an unwillingness among the leadership to acknowledge the constabulary as colleagues
  3. The real mental and class distance between officers and men leaves room for outside allegiances to fill the vacuum of influence
  4. Loyalty wanes, unequal and rough treatment within translates into a similar treatment of the public
  5. The effort to recalibrate the relationship from one of master and servant to professional collegiality can only come from the top

Way forward

  1. Above all this, the senior management needs to re-imagine the police not in the colonial image that requires them to cling to power rather than principle but as a law-upholding service that creates an environment within which each one of us and indeed each individual police person can enjoy his or her fundamental rights to the fullest

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Explained: Why CBI needs consent

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about CBI

Mains level: Issues surrounding CBI and its mandate.


News

Background

  1. Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal governments withdrew “general consent” to the CBI for investigating cases in their respective states.
  2. The state governments said they had lost faith in the CBI in the backdrop of its internal turmoil marked by the open war among the agency’s top officers.
  3. They have also alleged that the Centre is using the CBI to unfairly target Opposition parties.

General Consent

  1. Unlike the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is governed by its own NIA Act and has jurisdiction across the country, the CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
  2. This makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting investigation in that state.
  3. There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general.
  4. Given that the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only after that state government gives its consent.

When is Consent needed?

  1. General consent is normally given to help the CBI seamlessly conduct its investigation into cases of corruption against central government employees in the concerned state. Almost all states have given such consent.
  2. Otherwise, the CBI would require consent in every case.
  3. For example, if it wanted to investigate a bribery charge against a Western Railway clerk in Mumbai, it would have to apply for consent with the Maharashtra government before registering a case against him.

What does withdrawal mean?

  1. It means the CBI will not be able to register any fresh case involving a central government official or a private person stationed in these two states without getting case-specific consent.
  2. Withdrawal of consent simply means that CBI officers will lose all powers of a police officer as soon as they enter the state unless the state government has allowed them.

Under what provision has general consent been withdrawn?

  1. Section 6 of the Act says, nothing contained in Section 5 shall be deemed to enable any member of the Delhi Special Police Establishment to exercise powers and jurisdiction in any area in a State, not being a Union Territory or Railway, area, without the consent of the Government of that State.
  2. In exercise of power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 (Central Act No 25 of 1946), the government can withdraw the general consent to exercise the powers and jurisdiction.

Is it the first time a state government has withdrawn consent?

  1. Over the years, several states have done so, including Sikkim, Nagaland, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka — which stands out as an example.
  2. In 1998, the Janata Dal-led government had withdrawn general consent.
  3. In 1999, the S M Krishna-led government took over and did not revoke earlier order.
  4. The CBI had to virtually close down its office.
  5. It had to seek permission of the state government for every case and every search it conducted on central government employees.

Does that mean that the CBI can no longer probe any case in the two states?

  1. The CBI would still have the power to investigate old cases registered when general consent existed.
  2. Also, cases registered anywhere else in the country, but involving people stationed in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal would allow CBI’s jurisdiction to extend to these states.
  3. There is ambiguity on whether the agency can carry out a search in either of the two states in connection with an old case without the consent of the state government.

Legal Remedies for CBI

  1. The CBI can always get a search warrant from a local court in the state and conduct searches.
  2. In case the search requires a surprise element, there is CrPC Section 166, which allows a police officer of one jurisdiction to ask an officer of another to carry out searches on his behalf.
  3. And if the first officer feels that the searches by the latter may lead to loss of evidence, the section allows the first officer to conduct searches himself after giving a notice to the latter.

What happens in Fresh Cases?

  1. Withdrawal of consent will only bar the CBI from registering a case within the jurisdiction of Andhra and Bengal.
  2. The CBI could still file cases in Delhi and continue to probe people inside the two states.
  3. An October 2018, order of the Delhi HC made it clear that the agency can probe anyone in a state that has withdrawn “general consent” if the case is not registered in that state.
  4. The order was given with regard to a case of corruption in Chhattisgarh, which also gives consent on a case-to-case basis.
  5. The court ordered that the CBI could probe the case without prior consent of the Chhattisgarh government since it was registered in Delhi.

Mere out of fear of Political Misuse

  1. If a state government believes that the ruling party’s ministers or members could be targeted by CBI on orders of the Centre, and that withdrawal of general consent would protect them.
  2. This is a wrong assumption.
  3. CBI could still register cases in Delhi which would require some part of the offence being connected with Delhi and still arrest and prosecute ministers or MPs.
  4. The only people it will protect are small central government employees.

Back2Basics

Central Bureau of Investigations

Please navigate to this page for further readings on CBI:

Central Bureau of Investigation: Composition, Functions

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Ripe for prison reform

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for prison reforms in India


Context

Committee for prison reforms

  1. The Supreme Court, late last month, formed a committee on prison reforms headed by former Supreme Court judge, Justice Amitava Roy
  2. It is to look into the entire gamut of reforms to the prison system
  3. Previously Justice A.N. Mulla committee and the Justice Krishna Iyer committee on women prisoners were also set up (both in the 1980s)

Need for prison reforms

  1. There are those who believe that if you keep improving prison conditions, there is likely to be an attendant impact on the incidence of crime
  2. This accounts for the reluctance of many criminal justice administrators to employ or enlarge non-prison alternatives such as community service
  3. The offshoot of all this is growing numbers of prisoners and the woeful incapacity of governments to build more and larger prisons

Prison overcrowding

  1. In India, the publication, Prison Statistics India, brought out by the National Crime Records Bureau will provide food for thought for the Justice Roy Committee
  2. In 2015, there were nearly 4.2 lakh inmates in 1,401 facilities, with an average occupancy rate of 114% in most
  3. About 67% of total inmates were undertrials, a commentary on the speed and efficiency of India’s criminal justice system

Reducing civil prisoners

  1. There is a popular view that in order to reduce prison populations, proven non-violent offenders could be dealt with differently
  2. White collar crime has assumed monstrous proportions but there is no reason why we should continue to lock up offenders instead of merely depriving them of their illegal gains
  3. Devising swift processes of attachment of properties and freezing of bank accounts are alternatives to a jail term
  4. In India, progress has been made in freezing ‘benami’ holdings of major offenders even though it may not be a 100% effective step of cleaning up
  5. But these are the first steps towards making economic crimes unaffordable and unattractive for the average offender

Way forward

  1. Incarceration in any form is uncivilised, especially when it is so long-drawn-out, and when the objective of criminal punishment should be one of reform rather than wreaking vengeance on a perpetrator of crime
  2. Work should be initiated for model prisons, where inmates are accommodated with due regard to their basic human needs and are handled with dignity

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] What we talk about when we talk about crime

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: NCRB data reporting and changes required in it for better outcomes


Context

Crime data reporting 

  1. Intelligent administration of the criminal justice system (CJS) thrives on how crime data is reported, analysed and disaggregated
  2. Not merely CJS but safety and development of the entire social order depends on the state of criminal records
  3. But there is a recent concern with the “politicisation” of data
  4. Regimes in power may interfere with established official data-gathering channels and even manipulate these

Changes proposed by NCRB in crime data collection

  1. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has put forward proposals to improve from 2019 onwards the collection and classification of criminal data on several dimensions
  2. These include crimes against media persons, RTI and social activists, whistle-blowers and witnesses, senior citizens, persons belonging to Northeast states and by saints, khap panchayats, servants, guards, proclaimed offenders, parolees, cadres of political parties, illegal immigrants and organised groups
  3. Cybercrimes feature conspicuously among additional new reporting categories
  4. There will also be data related to complaints against police personnel, human rights violations by police, custodial deaths and escape from police custody

Filing of crimes essential

  1. Criminologists tell us that the “dark figure of crime” looms large over a society where criminal records are ill-kept
  2. If the FIRs are not filed despite the Supreme Court’s insistence that such filing is mandatory, the dark figure expands
  3. It becomes even sinister as in the case of lynching, social boycott, or stripping and parading

Law vs Economic wisdom

  1. Law reform wisdom says that the certainty of punishment matters more than severity and so do state investment on policing and associated administrative costs
  2. The economic approach to crime and punishment says that severity is better than certainty (or high probability) because it saves on these costs
  3. In the long run, more policing, by signalling a high probability of arrest, should bring down crime and associated social costs
  4. The “broken windows theory” has empirically maintained that in place of large social narratives of crime causation (such as impoverishment, patriarchy), policing will be effective when concentrated on a chain of events where small incidents of a breakdown in civic order were effectively prosecuted and punished
  5. The New York police in the 1990s contributed to crime reduction by taking in offenders for the pettiest of crimes

Making police more efficient

  1. To examine the deterrence effect of police visibility in marginalised neighbourhoods in India, data enrichment is required
  2. The NCRB provides state-level data for police density (by area and population)
  3. But this is neither disaggregated by district nor by the nature of duty (patrolling, clerical) to correctly gauge “visibility”
  4. Thus, it is not useful for the efficient allocation of police by a state among its districts

Further disaggregation of data

  1. The data for crimes against women or SC/STs is only disaggregated by age and sex but it should extend to religion and educational background as well
  2. This is currently done for convicts, it is not very useful without information about the crimes they have committed
  3. One may also consider data for the economic background or nature of the regular job of both offenders and victims
  4. Data should also be disaggregated according to gang or lone-wolf crime
  5. Data concerning the socioeconomic characteristics of repeat offenders or “hardened criminals” or about “crime schooling” in prisons leading to “career criminalisation”, should be provided
  6. In this regard, longitudinal surveys, conducted for most societies of the world, will be useful
  7. These capture time-varying attributes of the same offenders, like relationship with family, beliefs about their future, substance use and risk perception
  8. Disaggregation should reflect the extent to which a cost-benefit approach rather than impulse or the influence of drugs or alcohol (as is the case with juveniles but not only there) drives crime, which will have crucial policy implications

Way Forward

  1. Social conditions and structures shape individuals, which show that those designated as criminals are not born but made so by society
  2. An accurate record of perpetrators and victims concerning the nature of crime and punishment is rightly recognised as an attribute of a civilised state
  3. Better crime control statistics will not only be a tool for effecient policing but also an instrument of efficacious social policy and constitutional transformation of the Indian criminal justice system

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

U.P. to launch first-ever dial-FIR

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dial FIR Scheme, Criminal Data Dossier

Mains level: Policing Reforms through technology initiatives


News

Dial FIR Scheme

  1. The Uttar Pradesh Police are set to launch a first of its kind dial-FIR scheme in the country where a common man can register regular crimes without going to a police station.
  2. Besides this, they are also expanding the counter-terror combat and response grid in the State by training over 100 fresh commandos in special skills including a maiden batch of women personnel.

Online Dossier of Criminals

  1. To combat crime, an online dossier of criminals in the state has also been prepared.
  2. The investigating officers in various districts of the state will be given 22,000 new i-pads soon on which we have fed a dossier of over 1-lakh small and big criminals.
  3. Once they reach a crime spot they will show photos of the probable suspects of the area and other places, based on initial leads.
  4. Criminal details from the jail department will enrich this database.
  5. This dossier would help in solving a case fast as the suspects can be identified quickly.
  6. P. is the only second state to prepare such a localised online criminal database after Punjab.

Why such move?

  1. UP Police were getting almost 20,000 events every day over UP 100 (police emergency number) on call.
  2. Everything that is reported to U.P. 100 relates to certain categories of crime that includes cases like those of vehicle theft.
  3. For such crimes, one can dial the emergency number and file an FIR, a call-based FIR.
  4. This will be like a regular FIR, under similar sections of IPC, and people need not come to the police station to get a case registered.

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] People police

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need of community policing to prevent crimes & engage youth


Context

Ensuring peace & obeying of law

  1. A criminal justice system can hope to succeed in delivering peace and order only in a “majority defenders of law” situation
  2. That is when most of the citizens obey the law voluntarily
  3. It is the responsibility of the police to facilitate the achievement of this objective

Role of police

  1. The police can be called as “citizens in uniform”
  2. They need to work in close collaboration with the community and focus on crime prevention
  3. It makes citizens partners in crime prevention and is the best bet for creating a majority-defenders-of-law situation

Policing in India

  1. India inherited a militaristic and repressive police force from the British
  2. The British in 1861 built a militaristic and repressive police in India to defend their predatory rule
  3. It has, by and large, persisted with the colonial crime-fighting model

Why no changes?

The system’s persistence can be attributed to:

  • a resource crunch,
  • vested interests,
  • an indifferent academia not challenging the efficacy of police practices
  • the glamourisation of tough cops

Failure of government strategy

  1. Faced with rising crimes, street violence and subversive actions, the central government initiated the modernisation of the police force scheme in the 1970s
  2. It invested in the crime-fighting strategy — motorised patrolling, quick reactions to calls for help and reactive investigation
  3. This apparently led to an uninterrupted trend of an increase in crime and street violence in India
  4. The ever-increasing fear of crime is reflected in gated communities and the booming private security industry

What needs to be done?

  1. There is an urgent need to embrace a hybrid of the community-oriented and crime-fighting policing strategies and to reinforce it with crime-mapping and trend analysis
  2. This will keep the majority on the side of the law as well as deal effectively with career criminals and psychopaths
  3. It will also be an optimum utilisation of scarce resources

Way forward

  1. With 356 million people in the 10-24 years age group, a proactive police engaging an interconnected, volatile and youthful population through community policing programmes is perhaps the only hope for enduring peace and lasting order

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Towards a people’s police

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Centre & states approach on police reforms and urgent need to implement them


Context

SC directives on police reforms

  1. The Supreme Court took 10 years to give a historic judgment on Police reforms in 2006
  2. Since then it has been a struggle to get the Court’s directions implemented
  3. The state governments have shown scant regard to the directions given by the highest court of the land

Defining a process for the appointment of DGPs

  1. On July 3, 2018, responding to an interlocutory application filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Supreme Court gave a slew of directions to ensure that there are no distortions in the appointment of Director General of Police (DGP) of the state
  2. It laid down that the states shall send their proposals three months prior to the retirement of the incumbent DGP
  3. The UPSC shall prepare a panel of three officers suitable for elevation to the post of DGP
  4. The state shall appoint one of the persons from the panel only
  5. There would be no appointments of Acting DGP
  6. A person appointed as DGP should continue to hold the post for a reasonable period “beyond the date of superannuation”
  7. The UPSC should as far as practicable empanel officers who have got clear two years of service, giving due weightage to merit and seniority
  8. Any legislation/rule framed by any of the states or the Central Government running counter to the direction shall remain in abeyance

The concept of SMART police

  1. The government of India (GoI), meanwhile, came up with the concept of SMART police in 2014
  2. It meant a police that would be strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsible, tech-savvy and trained
  3. But there was, however, no effort by the MHA to make the concept a reality

Current status on implementation of SC directives

  1. States have constituted security commissions, as directed by the Supreme Court, but their composition has been diluted and their charter curtailed
  2. There is an attempt by the Department of Personnel to subvert the Court’s direction regarding police establishment board, apart from the fact that the boards already constituted are not as per the judicial directions
  3. There is tardiness in the separation of investigation from law and order functions
  4. There is need to fill up the huge vacancies in the police and upgrade its infrastructure in terms of housing, transport, communications and forensics

Way forward

  1. According to a recent estimate, crime, terrorism and external threats take a huge toll on economic growth and that these cost India 9 percent of its GDP, which is a very high figure
  2. If India is to achieve its status as a great power, it is absolutely essential that police is restructured and modernized
  3. Development needs solid foundations of good law and order
  4. It is high time that GoI consider bringing the police into the “concurrent list” of the Constitution

By Explains

Explain the News

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

[op-ed snap] Enabling a law

Image Source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: SC’s direction to the governments. And some solutions discussed in the newscard.


News

SC’s direction on providing public facilities to the disables

  1. The Supreme Court has directed(for the rights of the disabled) to the Central and State governments to provide full access to public facilities, such as buildings and transport, within stipulated deadlines
  2. The court has issued a series of orders: that
    (1) all government buildings should be made accessible by June 2019
    (2) half of all government buildings in the capital cities should meet accessibility norms by December this year
    (3) the Railways should present a report in three months from December 15 on implementing station facilities
    (4)  10% of government public transport must be fully accessible by March 2018
    (5) advisory boards should be formed by the States and Union Territories in three months

Background of the issue

  1. People with a disability form 2.21% of India’s population according to the 2011 Census
  2. Disabled persons have had a law for two decades to enable their full participation in society, but successive governments have done little to realise those guarantees

What should be done?
On travel requirements of the disables

  1. It is eminently feasible, to aggregate the travel requirements of disabled people with the help of information technology and smartphones, and provide affordable shared transport using accessible vehicles
  2. Given the emphasis on smart cities and upgraded urban facilities, such schemes should be given the highest priority and start-up ideas roped in
    In Railways
  3. Railway stations and access to train carriages continue to pose hurdles for not just the disabled, but even elderly travellers
  4. The Railways should embark on an urgent programme to retrofit all stations
  5. And try simple solutions such as portable step ladders to help board and exit trains, since level boarding is not possible in most places

Is cost a hurdle?

  1. Cost(of providing facilities to the disables) is not the barrier to improving facilities; what is in short supply is the political will to change the design of public facilities and stick to professional codes
  2. Today India is relatively richer, and has passed a new law in 2016 to strengthen the rights of the disabled, should demonstrate the will to implement it

By Explains

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By Explains

Explain the News

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