Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Arrest, agencies, and criminal courts

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Grounds of Arrest

Why in the news?

In May 2024, the Supreme Court clearly stated its stance in two important rulings that affect the rights of individuals accused of crimes.

About Supreme Court’s Decision on Detention:

  • Custody Not Necessary Before Charge Sheet: The Supreme Court ruled that the custody of an accused is not mandatory before filing a charge sheet in certain criminal cases.
  • Relief for Investigating Agencies: This decision, if adhered to by lower courts, could alleviate pressures on investigating agencies.

Filing of Charge Sheet:Siddharth v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Another (2021)

  • Non-obligatory Arrest: Section 170 of the CrPC does not require investigating officers (IOs) to arrest every accused at the time of filing the charge sheet.
  • Acceptance of Charge Sheet: Courts cannot refuse to accept charge sheets solely because the accused is not in custody if the accused has been cooperating and is unlikely to abscond.
  • Practical Issues: Despite the ruling, IOs face challenges in filing charge sheets due to court practices and logistical constraints, such as the absence of all accused or arbitrary limits on the number of charge sheets accepted daily.

Grounds of Arrest:

1.  Pankaj Bansal v. Union of India and Others (2023):

  • Written Notification Required: Grounds of arrest must be provided in writing to the accused to comply with constitutional and statutory mandates, specifically under Section 19(1) of the PMLA.

2. Prabir Purkayastha v. State (NCT of Delhi):

  • Application to UAPA: The requirement for written grounds of arrest under PMLA applies equally under UAPA.
  • Formal vs. Personal Grounds: Differentiates between formal reasons for arrest and personal grounds, necessitating detailed written reasons for arrest.

3. Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC):

  • Section 50(1) Compliance: Requires that every police officer inform the arrested person of the full particulars of the offence and grounds of arrest.
  • Arrest Memo: While arrest memos detail charges and are signed by the IO and the accused, there is no legal requirement to provide a copy to the accused.
  • Recommendation for Amendment: To comply with constitutional rights, it is suggested to amend the law to provide a copy of the arrest memo to the accused, enhancing transparency and legal support.

Conclusion: The Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the necessity of detention before charge sheet filing and the requirements for informing an accused of the grounds of arrest, highlight the implications for legal and procedural practices in India.

 

Mains PYQ:

Q Human right activists constantly highlight the fact that the Armed forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA) is a draconian act leading to cases of human right abuses by security forces. What sections of AFSPA are opposed by the activists. Critically evaluate the requirement with reference to the view held by Apex Court.  (UPSC IAS/2015)

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Interim Bail?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bail and its legal provisions

Why in the news?

The Supreme Court has granted interim bail to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the liquor policy case till to campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

What is Interim Bail?

  • Interim bail in India is a temporary release granted to an accused person from custody under Section 439 Cr.
  • It can be granted to address urgent matters such as medical emergencies, family crises, or other significant personal issues.

Legal Provisions for Interim Bail

Interim bail in India is NOT explicitly defined under a specific statute but is derived from the discretionary powers granted to courts under various legal provisions.

The most relevant laws and principles include:

  1. Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC): While the CrPC does not explicitly mention “interim bail,” it provides the framework for granting bail in general. Sections like 437 (bail in non-bailable cases by Magistrate), 438 (anticipatory bail), and 439 (special powers of High Court or Court of Session regarding bail) are used by courts to grant bail, including interim bail, based on judicial discretion.
  2. Constitutional Provisions: The Constitution of India under Article 21, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, is often interpreted to include the right to bail as part of the fair and just legal process.

 

Back2Basics: What is Bail?

  • Bail is the conditional release of a defendant with the promise to appear in court when required.
  • The term also means the security that is deposited in order to secure the release of the accused.
  • In India’s legal world, the term offense has been categorized as bailable offenses and non-bailable under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Why need Bail?

  • Bail is a fundamental aspect of any criminal justice system.
  • A person can defend himself/herself better when he/she is free, thus ensuring free trial.
  • The practice of bail grew out of the need to safeguard the fundamental right to liberty.
  • Liberty is the right of one whose guilt has not yet been proven.

Types of Bail in India

  • Depending upon the sage of the criminal matter, there are commonly three types of bail in India:
  1. Regular Bail: Granted to a person who has already been arrested and is in custody. This type of bail is provided under Sections 437 and 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). It allows the accused to be released from custody while the trial is ongoing.
  2. Anticipatory Bail: Under Section 438 of the CrPC, anticipatory bail is a pre-arrest legal process. It is granted when a person apprehends arrest on an accusation of having committed a non-bailable offence. This type of bail ensures that the accused will be released on bail in the event they are arrested.
  3. Interim Bail: This is temporary bail granted for a short period. Interim bail is often granted to allow the accused some relief until a final decision on their regular or anticipatory bail plea is made.

Conditions for Grant of Bail in Bailable Offences

  • Section 436 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, lays down that a person accused of a bailable offense under IPC can be granted bail if:
  1. There are sufficient reasons to believe that the accused has not committed the offence.
  2. There is sufficient reason to conduct a further inquiry in the matter.
  3. The person is not accused of any offence punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment up to 10 years.

Conditions for Grant of Bail in Non-Bailable Offences

  • Section 437 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 lays down that the accused does not have the right to apply for bail in non-bailable offences.
  • It is discretion of the court to grant bail in case of non-bailable offences if:
  1. The accused is a woman or a child, bail can be granted in a non-bailable offence.
  2. There is a lack of evidence then bail in non-Bailable offenses can be granted.
  3. There is a delay in lodging FIR by the complainant, bail may be granted.
  4. The accused is gravely sick.

 

PYQ:

[2021] With reference to India, consider the following statements :​

1. Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such accused is locked up in police station, not in jail.​

2. During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.​

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?​

  1. 1 only ​
  2. 2 only​
  3. Both 1 and 2 ​
  4. Neither 1 nor 2​

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is an Interpol Blue Corner Notice?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Interpol, Blue Corner Notice

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Karnataka’s political landscape is rocked by accusations of sexual abuse against a sitting MP belonging to a prominent political family.
  • Following explicit video leaks allegedly implicating him, Interpol has issued a Blue Corner notice, as he remains on the run.

INTERPOL’s Notice System:

  • The Interpol issues various types of notices to its member countries about individuals who are either missing or wanted.
  • While these notices aren’t legally binding and countries aren’t required to act on them, they are commonly used to arrest and extradite suspects.

The following entities can request for a notice:

  • Notice request by the Member Country
  • International Criminal Tribunals and the International Criminal Court can also request notices for individuals accused of serious crimes like genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity under their jurisdiction.
  • The United Nations can request notices related to enforcing sanctions imposed by the Security Council.

What are Blue Corner Notice?

  • Purpose: Blue corner notice, also known as an “enquiry notice,” facilitates sharing critical crime-related information, including criminal records verification and locating individuals.
  • Example: In January 2020, Interpol issued a blue corner notice to locate fugitive Nithyananda, a self-styled godman.

About INTERPOL (International Criminal Police Organization)

Details
Overview
  • Established in Vienna, Austria (1923), it enables cross-border police cooperation and supports and assists all organizations, authorities and services whose mission is to prevent or combat international crime.
  • An inter-governmental organization comprising 195 member countries,
  • Facilitates better coordination among police forces globally
Functions
  • Enables member countries to share and access data on crimes and criminals
  • Offers technical and operational support to member countries
  • Manages 19 police databases containing information on crimes and criminals, accessible in real-time
  • Provides investigative support, including forensics, analysis, and assistance in locating fugitives worldwide.
Working
  • Run by a Secretary General
  • Headquarters located in Lyon, France
  • Global complex for innovation based in Singapore.
  • Several satellite offices in different regions.

I-24/7 Service: Global Police Communications System that provides a common platform for the member countries’ police organizations to share sensitive and urgent police information.

India’s Membership
  • Joined in June 1956.
Functioning in Member Countries
  • Each member country has a National Central Bureau (NCB), serving as the central point of contact for the general secretariat and other NCBs worldwide
  • NCBs are typically managed by police officials and situated in the government ministry responsible for policing (e.g., CBI in India)
  • Interpol’s databases contain various information, from names and fingerprints to stolen passports, accessible in real-time to member countries
  • Provides investigative support to member countries, aiding in forensic analysis and locating fugitives globally.
Notices Interpol issues seven types of notices:

  1. Red Notice: Seeks the location and provisional arrest of fugitives.
  2. Blue Notice: Requests information about a person’s identity or activities.
  3. Green Notice: Warns about individuals likely to repeat crimes.
  4. Yellow Notice: Aids in locating missing persons.
  5. Black Notice: Seeks information about unidentified bodies.
  6. Orange Notice: Warns of imminent threats to public safety.
  7. Purple Notice: Seeks or provides information on criminal methods.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Zero FIR?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Zero FIR vs ordinary FIR

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • The Hyderabad Police have initiated a zero FIR case against former minister for alleged derogatory remarks against Telangana CM.

First Information Report (FIR)

  • An FIR is a written document prepared by the police upon receiving information about a cognisable offence.
  • It is when an officer can arrest a suspect without a court’s warrant if/she has “reason to believe” that the person committed the offence and arrest is necessary based on certain factors.
  • It serves as the first step towards initiating the investigation process and subsequent police actions.
  • Section 154(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) empowers the police to register an FIR for cognizable offences.
  • Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides punishment for public servants failing to record information related to a cognizable offence, with imprisonment of up to two years and a fine.

What is Zero FIR?

  • Provision and Purpose: Zero FIR allows any police station to register an FIR for a cognisable offence without assigning a regular FIR number initially.
  • No diary: Whereas FIRs have serial numbers assigned to them, zero FIRs are assigned the number ‘0’. Hence the name.

Features of a Zero FIR:

  1. Swift Action: The relevant police station subsequently registers a fresh FIR and commences the investigation.
  2. Focus on Victims: It is designed to expedite complaint lodging, particularly for serious crimes involving women and children, without the need to approach multiple police stations.
  3. Preserving Evidence: Early registration helps prevent the loss or tampering of crucial evidence and witnesses.
  4. Transferred Jurisdiction: The Zero FIR is later transferred to the relevant police station where the offence occurred or where the investigation should be conducted.

How does it work?

  • After a police station registers a zero FIR, it has to transfer the complaint to a police station that has the jurisdiction to investigate the alleged offence.
  • Once a zero FIR is transferred, the police station with the appropriate jurisdiction assigns it a serial number, thereby converting it into a regular FIR.

Legal Provisions for Zero FIR

The provision of Zero FIR finds support in various judgments and recommendations:

  1. Satvinder Kaur vs. State (1999): The Delhi High Court held that a woman has the right to lodge her complaint from any place other than where the incident occurred.
  2. Justice Verma Committee (2012): The introduction of Zero FIR was based on the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee, which was formed in response to the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case.
  3. Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of UP (2014): The Supreme Court ruled that registration of an FIR is mandatory when information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence.

PYQ:

2021: With reference to India, consider the following statements:

1. Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such accused is locked-up in police station, not in jail.

2. During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Practice MCQ:

Regarding the Zero FIR, consider the following statements:

1. Zero FIR allows any police station to register an FIR for a cognizable offence without assigning a regular FIR number initially.

2. Whereas FIRs have serial numbers assigned to them, zero FIRs are assigned the number ‘0’.

Which of the given statements is/are correct?

(a) Only 1

(b) Only 2

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Mains level: Controversies associated with the Jurisdiction of CBI, ED

In the News:

  • The Supreme Court witnessed a clash between the Tamil Nadu government and the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) concerning the jurisdiction of the ED to probe “illegal” sand mining activities in the state.
  • TN contested the ED’s authority to investigate sand mining under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), asserting that sand mining offenses were not scheduled under the PMLA.

Why did the ED step in?

  • Whenever any offence is registered by a local police station, which has generated proceeds of crime over and above ₹1 crore, the investigating police officer forwards the details to the ED.
  • Alternately, if the offence comes under the knowledge of the Central agency, they can then call for the First Information Report (FIR) or the chargesheet if it has been filed directly by police officials.
  • This will be done to find out if any laundering has taken place.

About Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Details
Establishment May 1, 1956

Initially set up as an ‘Enforcement Unit’

Nodal Agency Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Jurisdiction Nationwide
Functional Focus Economic and financial offenses including money laundering, foreign exchange irregularities
Investigative Powers Attachment, confiscation, and arrest

Conduct raids and searches

Summon and question individuals

Collaboration Coordinates with various agencies (CBI, local police) and banks
Reporting Authority Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Corruption Investigations Has a separate Economic Offenses Division
Notable Cases Vijay Mallya extradition

PNB fraud case

Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam

International Cooperation Works with international law enforcement for cross-border investigations (Interpol, FATF)
Public Interface Accepts complaints and information regarding economic offenses
Transparency and Accountability Regular reports to the Ministry of Finance; subject to oversight by judiciary and government bodies

Legal Authority of the ED

Description
Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA), 1974 To sponsor cases of preventive detention related to contraventions of FEMA.
Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999 ED to investigate suspected contraventions of foreign exchange laws and regulations, adjudicate and impose penalties, and

Trace assets derived from proceeds of crime.

Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 ED to investigate, trace assets derived from proceeds of crime, provisionally attach property, and

Ensure prosecution and confiscation by Special Court (PMLA Court under Section 4 of PMLA).

Fugitive Economic Offenders Act (FEOA), 2018 ED to enforce provisions related to attachment and confiscation of properties belonging to FEOs who have fled India to evade the legal process.

 

Also read:

[Burning Issue] Enforcement Directorate (ED): Dreaded nightmare of Indian Politicians & Businessmen


 

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Supreme Court Labels Gujarat Police Actions as “Atrocity”

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Police Atrocities

Introduction

  • In a significant development, the Supreme Court of India, made oral observations condemning the 2022 incident involving four Gujarat Police officers.
  • These officers had publicly flogged some men, restraining them to a pole, under the allegation of disrupting a garba event in the Kheda district.

Kheda Incident

  • Public Flogging and Video Documentation: The incident in question involved the public flogging of some men who were tied to a pole. Shockingly, videos of the brutal act were also recorded.
  • Lack of Legal Authority: Justice B.R. Gavai questioned whether the officers had any legal authority to restrain individuals in such a manner and subject them to physical abuse. Justice Sandeep Mehta expressed similar concerns.

Ethical Dimensions Put to Question

  • Human Rights: Police misconduct and brutality violate citizens’ fundamental rights, including the right to life, liberty, dignity, equality, and justice. They also breach international human rights standards.
  • Rule of Law: Such actions undermine democratic societies based on the rule of law, diminishing law enforcement agencies’ legitimacy and fostering a culture of impunity where police act as judge, jury, and executioner.
  • Professionalism: Police misconduct erodes the professionalism, integrity, and morale of the police force. It negatively impacts training, discipline, supervision, and leadership, pressuring honest officers to conform to unethical practices.
  • Social Harmony: Police misconduct disrupts social cohesion, breeding resentment, fear, anger, and distrust, especially among marginalized groups. It contributes to social conflicts, violence, and extremism, threatening national peace and stability.

Violation of D.K. Basu Judgment (1996)

  • Supreme Court’s Historical Verdict: The actions of the police officers were found to be in contempt of the Supreme Court’s landmark D.K. Basu judgment of 1996. This judgment emphasized the importance of protecting individuals from torture and abuse by the police and law-enforcing officers.
  • Prohibition of Third-Degree Methods: The D.K. Basu verdict explicitly prohibited the use of “third degree” methods or torture during interrogation and investigation.

Supreme Court’s Response

  • Ignorance of Law: Justices Gavai and Mehta were not convinced by the argument put forth by senior advocate Siddharth Dave, representing the police officers, that there was no “willful disobedience” of the D.K. Basu verdict by his clients. The Bench questioned whether ignorance of the law could serve as a defence in this context.
  • Duty of Police Officers: The Bench emphasized that every police officer must be aware of the legal principles established in the D.K. Basu judgment.

Conclusion

  • The Supreme Court’s strong stance against the actions of the Gujarat Police officers in this case underscores the importance of upholding the principles of justice, human rights, and the rule of law.
  • This incident serves as a reminder of the duty and responsibility that law enforcement agencies have in protecting the rights and dignity of individuals while performing their duties.

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A case diary for the Indian police

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Director General of Police (DGP)

Mains level: persistent challenges in the relationship between the Centre and Opposition-led States, particularly in the context of federal policing.

Is there any doubt that India is now a police state? Koi Shaq?

Central Idea:

The article by R.K. Raghavan discusses the state of policing in India, focusing on a recent conference in Jaipur attended by high-ranking police officers. It highlights the challenges faced by the police in terms of public trust, federal-state relations, and the need for a more inclusive and technology-driven approach. Raghavan emphasizes the growing importance of law enforcement in the country while acknowledging the persistent issues that hinder the improvement of the police force’s image.

Key Highlights:

  • The three-day conference in Jaipur centered around contemporary issues in Information Technology for the police.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interaction with police officers signals the increasing significance of law enforcement.
  • Despite honest intentions, the police struggle to gain the trust of the majority, and the public’s perception remains negative.
  • The article discusses the discord between the Centre and some Opposition-led States, especially regarding the Indian Police Service (IPS).
  • The author points out the need for a balance between federal governance and state autonomy, particularly concerning the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

Key Challenges:

  • Lack of public trust and a negative image of the police force.
  • Growing discord between the Centre and Opposition-led States, especially regarding the IPS.
  • Unequal attention and glory given to IPS officers, limiting opportunities for lower-ranking personnel.
  • Politicization of the police force and the challenge of resisting illegal demands from grassroots politicians.

Key Terms/Phrases:

  • Information Technology (IT)
  • Director General of Police (DGP)
  • Indian Police Service (IPS)
  • Enforcement Directorate (ED)
  • Federal Governance
  • Grassroots Politicians
  • Policing Hierarchy

Key Quotes:

  • “The police have still to earn the trust and confidence of a majority of the populace.”
  • “The ‘New Delhi-conceived and managed’ Indian Police Service (IPS) is perceived to be ‘a permanent irritant’ to some States.”
  • “It is unfortunate that even seven decades after India’s Independence, citizens do not have a guardian organisation that will reach out to the poorest in the community.”

Key Statements:

  • “The police force needs to balance federal governance and state autonomy to avoid conflicts.”
  • “The negative public image of the police hinders effective law enforcement.”
  • “There is a need for a major restructuring to bridge the gap between higher and lower ranks within the police force.”

Key Examples and References:

  • Attacks on ED officers in some places in India pose a danger to relations between New Delhi and States.
  • The article mentions the lack of attention given to the constabulary, as IPS officers tend to hog all the glory.

Key Facts/Data:

  • The three-day conference in Jaipur took place in the first week of January.
  • The article suggests that high unemployment rates in India drive many individuals to opt for a career in the police force.
  • The negative public perception of the police force persists even after seven decades of India’s Independence.

Critical Analysis:

  • The article acknowledges the positive shift towards technology adoption within the police force but raises concerns about the unequal distribution of attention and opportunities among ranks.
  • The author highlights the persistent challenges in the relationship between the Centre and Opposition-led States, particularly in the context of federal policing.

Way Forward:

  • The police force should focus on building trust through transparency and community engagement.
  • There is a need for a restructuring that ensures opportunities for lower-ranking personnel to prove themselves.
  • Policymakers should address the discord between the Centre and States to promote effective law enforcement.

In summary, R.K. Raghavan’s article underscores the need for comprehensive reforms in India’s police force, considering issues of public trust, federal-state relations, and the need for a more inclusive and technology-driven approach. The author suggests that a balanced and transparent approach can contribute to a positive transformation of the police force in the country.

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Parliament breach accused underwent Psychoanalysis

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Psychoanalysis

Mains level: Read the attached story

Psychoanalysis

Central Idea

  • The Delhi Police’s use of psychoanalysis for assessing motives in the Parliament breach incident highlights its contemporary relevance.

Origins of Psychoanalysis

  • Development by Freud: Sigmund Freud, a Viennese psychiatrist, developed psychoanalysis as a modern Western system of psychotherapy.
  • Evolution over Time: Initially a treatment for unexplained symptoms, psychoanalysis has evolved, influenced by various scientific disciplines.
  • Goal of Psychoanalysis: It aims to enhance self-awareness by uncovering unconscious wishes and defenses.

Concept of the Unconscious

  • Freud’s Central Theory: The unconscious contains memories and impulses inaccessible to conscious awareness due to their threatening nature.
  • Mechanisms of Repression: Repression plays a key role in psychoanalysis, involving the unconscious forgetting of painful ideas to protect the psyche.
  • Id, Ego, and Superego: Freud’s model of the psyche includes the instinct-driven id, the rational ego, and the normative superego.

Fantasies, Defenses, and Resistance in Psychoanalysis

  • Role of Fantasies: Fantasies, according to Freud, fulfill psychic needs and provide imaginary wish fulfillment.
  • Defense Mechanisms: Intrapsychic processes like projection, reaction formation, and rationalization help avoid emotional pain.
  • Concept of Resistance: Freud observed resistance in clients reluctant to engage in therapy, leading to the practice of free association.

Transference and Countertransference

  • Transference Dynamics: Clients often project past relational templates onto the therapist, offering insights into their behavior.
  • Countertransference Issues: Therapists’ unresolved conflicts can affect their feelings towards clients, necessitating self-analysis.

Psychoanalysis as a Therapeutic Tool

  • Dream Interpretation: Freud viewed dreams as forms of wish fulfillment, central to psychoanalytic therapy.
  • Making the Unconscious Conscious: The goal is to bring unconscious drives into awareness to understand self-defeating behaviors.
  • Therapeutic Relationship: The therapist-client relationship can provide new relational experiences, challenging maladaptive models.

Contemporary Psychoanalytic Practice

  • Shift to Shorter Sessions: Modern psychoanalysis often involves fewer sessions per week, adapting to practical and individual needs.
  • Long-Term vs. Short-Term Therapy: While some issues require long-term treatment, contemporary practice accommodates shorter, more focused consultations.

Conclusion

  • Enduring Relevance: Despite its evolution, psychoanalysis remains a vital tool for understanding human behavior and mental health.
  • Adaptation and Integration: Modern psychoanalytic practice has adapted to contemporary needs while retaining core principles.
  • Broader Applications: Beyond therapy, psychoanalysis offers insights into various aspects of human behavior, as evidenced by its use in legal and investigative contexts.

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Legal and Ethical Dimensions of Polygraph Tests in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Polygraph Test

Mains level: Read the attached story

polygraph tests

Central Idea

  • In the ongoing investigation of the Parliament security breach, Delhi Police sought court permission for polygraph tests on six accused to uncover their motives.
  • A polygraph test, commonly known as a lie detector test, measures physiological responses believed to differ when a person lies.

Mechanics of a Polygraph Test

  • Physiological Monitoring: The test involves attaching instruments like cardio-cuffs or sensitive electrodes to monitor blood pressure, pulse, and other variables.
  • Response Analysis: As questions are asked, responses are numerically evaluated to determine truthfulness, deception, or uncertainty.
  • Historical Origin: First conducted in the 19th century by Cesare Lombroso, an Italian criminologist, to measure blood pressure changes in suspects during interrogation.

Constitutional and Legal Provisions

  • Article 20(3) of the Indian Constitution: This article protects against self-incrimination, stating that no accused shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves.
  • Infringement Concerns: Forcing an accused to undergo polygraph or narcoanalysis tests is seen as a violation of Article 20(3), making consent essential.
  • Article 21 and Human Rights: Polygraph tests are criticized for mental torture, potentially violating the right to life and privacy under Article 21.

Limitations and Challenges

  • Scientific Reliability: Neither polygraph nor narco tests are scientifically proven to be 100% accurate, raising questions about their reliability.
  • Impact on Vulnerable Individuals: These tests can adversely affect those unaware of their rights or unable to access legal advice, leading to potential abuse and media exploitation.

Legal and Constitutional Rulings

  • Selvi vs State of Karnataka & Anr (2010): The Supreme Court ruled that lie detector tests should be voluntary, with legal implications explained to the accused.
  • D.K. Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997): The Court deemed involuntary administration of these tests as potentially violating the Right to Life and Liberty and the Right to Privacy.
  • Indian Evidence Act, 1871: The results of these tests are not admissible as evidence in court.
  • National Human Rights Commission Guidelines (1999): Established consent and procedural guidelines for administering polygraph tests.

Way Forward

  • Role as Investigative Tools: While not reliable for conclusive evidence, polygraph tests can aid in complex investigations.
  • Balancing Scientific Techniques and Rights: The government should promote scientific methods in investigations while ensuring strict adherence to ethical and legal standards.
  • Consent and Decency: The administration of these tests must be consensual, respecting the dignity and rights of the individuals involved.

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Overview of Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023

Mains level: NA

bns

Central Idea

  • The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita (BNS) Bill, 2023, introduces significant reforms to replace the Indian Penal Code.
  • The bill addresses terrorism, organized crime, gender neutrality, and repeals outdated laws like Section 377.

Major Provisions in the BNS Bill

[1] Promise to Marry (Clause 69)

  • Targeting ‘Love Jihad’: Criminalizes deceitful promises to marry, potentially addressing the ‘love jihad’ narrative.
  • Criminalization of Consensual Sexual Activity: Broadens the scope to include consensual sexual acts under certain deceitful circumstances.

[2] Mob Lynching

  • Codification of Offences: Introduces specific provisions for mob lynching and hate-crime murders.
  • Punishment: Ranges from life imprisonment to the death penalty.

[3] Organized Crime

  • Inclusion in Ordinary Law: For the first time, organized crime is addressed under ordinary criminal law.
  • Punishment Criteria: Distinction based on whether the crime results in death, with varying degrees of punishment.

[4] Terrorism

  • Integration into Ordinary Law: Adopts definitions from stringent acts and international laws, broadening the scope of terror financing.

[5] Attempt to Suicide

  • New Provision: Criminalizes suicide attempts aimed at compelling public servants, with potential implications for protests.

Significant Deletions and Repeals

[a] Section 377 (Unnatural Sexual Offences)

  • Repeal: Decriminalizes homosexuality, but raises concerns about addressing non-consensual acts.

[b] Adultery

  • Omission: Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, adultery is no longer criminalized.

[c] Thugee/Thugs (Section 310 IPC)

  • Removal: Eliminates colonial-era notions of criminality associated with certain tribes.

Gender Neutrality in Laws

  • Child-Related Offences: Makes laws about children gender-neutral.
  • Adult Offences: Extends gender neutrality to crimes like outraging modesty and voyeurism.

Other Notable Changes

  • Fake News: Introduces provisions against publishing false and misleading information.
  • Sedition (‘Deshdroh’): Renames and broadens the definition to include financial support for subversive activities.
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences: Limits judicial discretion, raising concerns about fairness in considering mitigating circumstances.
  • Public Property Damage: Implements fines corresponding to the extent of damage caused.

What was the need for new bills?

  • Colonial legacy
    • From 1860 to 2023, the country’s criminal justice system functioned as per the laws made by the British.
    • The laws were drafted during colonial times and contain archaic language and concepts that might not accurately reflect current social norms, values.
  • Advances in Technology
    • This has introduced new dimensions to crime, evidence, and investigation.
  • Simplification and Streamlining
    • The laws have become complex over time, leading to confusion among legal practitioners, law enforcement agencies, and the general public.
    • Simplifying and streamlining the legal framework can enhance transparency and understanding.
  • Evidence Collection and Presentation
    • The Indian Evidence Act was enacted before the advent of modern forensic science and technological tools.
  • Various reports highlighted the need for reforms in criminal laws
    • The department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs in its 146th report had recommended that there is a need for a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system of the country.
    • It was also pointed out that the Parliamentary Standing Committee in its 111th and 128th reports had also highlighted the need for reforms in criminal laws.

Conclusion

  • Reformative Approach: The BNS Bill represents a significant overhaul of India’s penal system, addressing contemporary issues and societal changes.
  • Judicial Implications: While it introduces necessary reforms, the bill’s impact on judicial discretion and fairness in sentencing warrants careful consideration.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Supreme Court clarifies Enforcement Directorate’s Arrest Procedures

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court ruled on the procedures for arrests made by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

About Enforcement Directorate (ED)

Details
Establishment May 1, 1956

Initially set up as an ‘Enforcement Unit’

Mandate Enforces economic and financial regulations
Jurisdiction Nationwide
Legal Authority – Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002

– Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999

Functional Focus Economic and financial offenses including money laundering, foreign exchange irregularities
Investigative Powers – Attachment, confiscation, and arrest

– Conduct raids and searches

– Summon and question individuals

Collaboration Coordinates with various agencies (CBI, local police) and banks
Reporting Authority Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Corruption Investigations Has a separate Economic Offenses Division
Notable Cases – Vijay Mallya extradition

– PNB fraud case

– Augusta Westland VVIP chopper scam

International Cooperation Works with international law enforcement for cross-border investigations (Interpol, FATF)
Public Interface Accepts complaints and information regarding economic offenses
Transparency and Accountability Regular reports to the Ministry of Finance; subject to oversight by judiciary and government bodies

Issue: Revision of ED Arrest Norms

  • Supreme Court Ruling: On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that the Enforcement Directorate (ED) needs only to orally inform an accused of the grounds of their arrest at the time of arrest.
  • Requirement for Written Grounds: The court also specified that the written grounds of arrest must be supplied to the accused within 24 hours of their arrest.

Modification of Previous Supreme Court Ruling

  • Earlier Mandate: A two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court on October 3 had mandated the ED to provide the grounds of arrest in writing at the time of custody.
  • Current Ruling: The latest ruling by Justices Bela Trivedi and Satish Chandra Sharma modified this requirement.

Legal Framework: Section 19 of PMLA

  • ED’s Arrest Power: Section 19 of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) authorizes the ED to arrest individuals based on material evidence.
  • Notification Requirement: The law requires that the reasons for such belief must be recorded in writing, and the grounds of arrest be informed to the accused “as soon as may be.”
  • Understanding ‘As Soon As May Be’: The court interpreted the phrase to mean “as early as possible”, “without avoidable delay”, “within reasonably convenient” or a “reasonably requisite” period.

Case Background: Supertech Limited’s Founder’s Challenge

  • Delhi High Court’s Decision: The Delhi High Court had dismissed a petition by a person to declare his arrest illegal.
  • Argument: He contended that his arrest violated Section 19(1) of the PMLA and his fundamental rights, as he was not supplied with written grounds for arrest.

Supreme Court’s December 15 Ruling

  • Non-Retrospective Application: The court stated that the October 3 ruling in Pankaj Bansal vs. UOI cannot be applied retrospectively to cases before that date.
  • Reference to Vijay Madanlal’s Case: The court relied on its July 27 decision in Vijay Mandanlal Choudhary vs. UOI, by a three-judge Bench, to support its ruling.
  • Upholding PMLA Provisions: The validity of Section 19 was upheld, affirming its reasonable nexus with the PMLA’s objectives.

Resolving Bench Discrepancies

  • 2002 Ruling: In “Pradip Chandra Parija vs. Pramod Chandra Patnaik,” a Constitution Bench ruled that if two Benches of equal strength arrive at different conclusions on the same question of law, the matter must be referred to a higher Bench.
  • Implications for Current Case: This precedent is relevant in resolving discrepancies when two Benches of equal strength, like in the current scenario, differ in their rulings.

Conclusion

  • Legal Clarity: The Supreme Court’s ruling provides clarity on the procedures for arrests made by the ED, balancing prompt enforcement action with the rights of the accused.
  • Impact on Future Cases: This decision sets a precedent for how the ED’s arrests are to be conducted, influencing future cases involving the agency.

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How to read the NCRB 2022 Report on Crime in India?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

Mains level: Crime in India

Central Idea

Background of NCRB Reports

  • Origin: The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) was established in January 1986 under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Purpose: NCRB’s primary role is to compile and maintain national crime statistics, acting as a central repository for criminal data.
  • Scope: The reports encompass a wide range of criminal activities, including crimes against women, cybercrimes, economic offenses, and more.

Data Compilation Process

  • Sources: Data is sourced from police forces of 36 states and Union Territories, and 53 cities with populations over 10 lakh as per the 2011 Census.
  • Validation: Information recorded at local police stations undergoes validation at district and state levels before final verification by the NCRB.

Highlights from the 2022 NCRB Report

  • Overall Crimes: The report registered a total of 58,24,946 cognizable crimes, including 35,61,379 IPC crimes and 22,63,567 Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes.
  • Crime Rate: A decline in crime rate from 445.9 in 2021 to 422.2 in 2022 per lakh population.
  • Crimes Against Women: There were 4,45,256 cases, marking a 4% increase from 2021.
  • Cyber Crimes: A significant increase of 24.4% from 2021, totaling 65,893 cases.
  • Suicides: An increase of 4.2% in suicides, totaling 1,70,924 cases in 2022.

State-wise Data and Interpretation

  • Chargesheeting Rate: Highest in Kerala (96.0%), Puducherry (91.3%), and West Bengal (90.6%).
  • Interpretation: High chargesheet rates do not necessarily indicate higher crime rates but could reflect more efficient law enforcement.

Challenges and Limitations of NCRB Data

  • Principal Offence Rule: This rule might lead to underreporting of certain types of crimes.
  • Data Accuracy: Local-level inefficiencies or gaps can affect the overall accuracy of the report.
  • Socio-Economic Factors: The report does not capture the deeper socio-economic reasons behind crimes.
  • Underreporting Issues: Fear of police response or societal stigma may lead to underreporting of crimes.

Conclusion

  • Understanding the NCRB report requires recognizing its scope, methodology, and limitations.
  • While it provides crucial insights into crime trends in India, interpreting the data with an awareness of these factors is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the country’s crime dynamics.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act: Balancing Privacy and Law Enforcement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act

Mains level: Read the attached story

Central Idea

  • In April 2022, the Indian Parliament passed the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act (CrPI).
  • It enabled law enforcement agencies to collect and analyze physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans of arrested individuals.

Why in the news now?

  • While the rules governing the Act were notified in September 2022, full implementation is pending as the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the nodal agency, is still formulating guidelines and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
  • This legislation replaces the antiquated Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, which primarily focused on collecting fingerprints, footprints, and photographs of certain convicted and non-convicted individuals.

CrPI Act: Purpose of the Legislation

  • Modernization: The CrPI Act modernizes the process of capturing and recording biometric data and other measurements, supplanting outdated methods.
  • Data Utilization: The Act facilitates the use of advanced techniques for capturing and recording body measurements, providing law enforcement with more comprehensive data.

Role of the NCRB

  • Central Repository: The NCRB is tasked with storing, processing, sharing, disseminating, and destroying measurement records.
  • Common Database: Impressions collected at any police station will be stored in a central database accessible to authorized police and prison officials nationwide.
  • Technical Specifications: The NCRB will define equipment specifications for measurement collection, methods for handling and storing data compatible with the NCRB database, and the IT systems to be employed for measurements.
  • Authorized Personnel: The Act extends measurement collection authority to police and prison officials, individuals skilled in measurement collection, registered medical practitioners, and authorized personnel.
  • Data Retention: Records are to be retained for 75 years.

Implementation Status

  • Fingerprinting: Police have been trained to record fingerprints through the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS), which assigns a unique National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to suspects.
  • Challenges: The provision for iris scanners, DNA collection, and facial recognition systems has not been fully realized. NAFIS workstations are operational in many states, but challenges persist.

Challenges and Concerns

  • Privacy Concerns: During debates in Parliament, opposition members raised concerns about the violation of fundamental rights, including the right to privacy.
  • Data Protection: Questions have arisen about the safeguarding of DNA samples and facial recognition data.
  • Lack of Awareness: Many officers are unaware of the rules specifying that measurements of individuals detained or arrested under certain sections of the law should not be recorded.
  • Data Destruction: Individuals are responsible for requesting the destruction and disposal of their records from the central database if they have been falsely implicated or acquitted, which poses challenges.
  • Right to Be Forgotten: Advocacy groups have emphasized the need to consider the “Right to Be Forgotten” in data retention policies.
  • Training and Scope: Proper training and clear guidelines for DNA sample handling and storage are needed, and the scope of DNA collection in various types of crimes remains unclear.
  • Connectivity Issues: Smaller states face connectivity challenges, hindering the fulfilment of secured Internet lease line requirements for data protection.

Conclusion

  • The CrPI Act represents a significant step toward modernizing law enforcement data collection techniques.
  • However, concerns related to privacy, data protection, and training, along with connectivity issues, underscore the need for comprehensive guidelines and safeguards to balance the imperatives of law enforcement with individual rights and data security.

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Why Special and Local Laws also need to be reformed?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: SLL

Mains level: Reforming criminal justice system

Special and Local Laws

Central Idea

  • Recent legislative bills aimed at amending criminal laws in India have garnered significant attention for ushering in long-awaited reforms.
  • However, these reforms primarily focus on one aspect of India’s complex criminal justice system.
  • What remains often overlooked are the extensive Special and Local Laws (SLLs) that encompass some of the most critical offences and procedures.

What are Special and Local Laws (SLLs)?

  • Cognizable crimes are categorized either under the ‘Indian Penal Code (IPC)’ or under the ‘Special and Local Laws (SLL)’.
  • The SLL identify criminal activities that the state government frames for specific issues.

Significance of SLLs

  • Quantitative Importance: In 2021, nearly 39.9% of all cognizable offenses registered fell under SLLs, according to Crime in India Statistics.
  • Qualitative Relevance: SLLs have ignited crucial debates concerning the boundaries of the state’s power in criminalization, particularly with respect to individual rights and liberties.

Need for Reform in SLLs

  • Diverse Substantive Issues: SLLs, like the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA) and the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, 1999 (MCOCA), suffer from ambiguous and vague definitions of offenses, raising concerns about their application to civil or regulatory wrongs.
  • Procedural Challenges: SLLs have diluted universally accepted due process values, with examples like expanded search and seizure powers under the UAPA and admissibility of police-recorded confessions under the MCOCA.
  • Bail Hurdles: Stringent provisions under SLLs, such as Section 43(D)(5) of the UAPA and Section 37 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, make securing bail nearly impossible.

Shift from Complete Codification

  • IPC’s Original Vision: The Indian Penal Code (IPC), enacted in 1860, aimed to comprehensively codify all criminal laws, inspired by Jeremy Bentham’s idea of a “Pannomion”—a single, comprehensive collection of rules.
  • Changing Landscape: Over time, there has been a shift towards enacting and applying SLLs, which has deviated from the original concept of complete codification.
  • Unsuccessful Aspects: While the IPC faces criticism for its archaic morality and colonial roots, it is essential to acknowledge its success in codifying penal laws.

Addressing the Limitation: A Second Generation of Reforms

  • Incorporating SLLs: All SLLs that criminalize or seek to criminalize specific conduct should be integrated as separate chapters within the larger penal code.
  • Procedural Integration: SLLs creating distinct procedures for reporting offenses, arrests, investigations, prosecutions, trials, evidence, and bail should be included either as separate procedures within the CrPC or as exceptions to its general provisions.

Conclusion

  • As India increasingly relies on Special and Local Laws for various reasons, it is vital to ensure that these laws do not overshadow the original concept of codifying penal laws, as embodied in the IPC and CrPC.
  • Failing to incorporate the substantive and procedural aspects of SLLs into ongoing reform efforts represents a significant limitation.
  • Therefore, a second generation of reforms is imperative to address these gaps and maintain the integrity of India’s criminal justice system.

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Centre to overhaul British-era IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Three key bills, provisions

Mains level: Reforming criminal justice system

IPC

What’s the news?

  • Union Home Minister Amit Shah has put forth three significant bills for consideration in the Lok Sabha, aiming to overhaul India’s criminal justice system.

Central idea

  • The proposed legislation includes the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, and the Bharatiya Sakshya Bill. The introduction of these bills has sparked a spirited debate regarding the necessity of these reforms, the perceived misuse of existing laws, and the potential implications of the proposed amendments.

What is the proposed legislation?

  • Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill:
  • This bill aims to replace the existing Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1860.
  • The proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill seeks to update and modernize the criminal laws to better reflect evolving societal values and democratic aspirations.
  • Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill:
  • This bill is intended to supersede the current Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1973.
  • The proposed bill aims to reform these procedures and streamline the criminal justice process.
  • Bharatiya Sakshya Bill:
  • This bill aims to replace the Indian Evidence Act of 1872.
  • The proposed Bharatiya Sakshya Bill seeks to modernize and adapt these rules to the contemporary legal landscape.

How are the new Bills different from the prevalent laws?

  • Indian Penal Code (IPC) Replacement (Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill):
    • The existing IPC, enacted in 1860, is considered operational but might not adequately reflect changing values and democratic aspirations.
    • The proposed Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill seeks to update the IPC, with amendments to 175 sections, the addition of eight new sections, and the repeal of 22 sections.
    • The aim is to align the criminal laws with contemporary socio-economic and political realities.
  • Code of Criminal Procedure Replacement (Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill):
    • The current Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was established in 1973.
    • The new Bill introduces significant changes, including extending the period of detention without charges to 90 days.
    • New discretionary powers are granted to law enforcement, such as the ‘right to handcuff,’ which was previously uncommon in India.
    • The new CrPC introduces provisions that could legitimize encounters and violence during arrests.
    • Amendments in the new CrPC appear to move in the opposite direction of global criminal justice jurisprudence by extending detention periods, contrary to shorter periods adopted in other countries.
  • Indian Evidence Act Replacement (Bharatiya Sakshya Bill):
    • The Indian Evidence Act of 1872 is being replaced by the proposed Bharatiya Sakshya Bill.
    • The changes in the evidence law aim to modernize the rules and principles for the admissibility of evidence in court proceedings.

What are the similarities between the existing laws and the new Bills?

  • Continuation of Existing Practices:
    • The new Bills maintain many existing practices in the current legal framework, endorsing and legitimizing established procedures and norms.
  • Detention and Criminal Offenses:
    • The new CrPC maintains the practice of detention without charges.
    • Both the existing laws and the new Bills address various criminal offenses, albeit with potential changes in definitions and terminology.
  • Continued Concerns:
    • Both the existing laws and the new Bills raise concerns about the potential misuse and abuse of certain provisions. For instance, concerns are raised about expanded discretionary powers granted to law enforcement as well as potential ambiguities in the new definitions of offenses.
  • Gendered Provisions:
    • The existing laws and the new Bills both highlight gendered provisions. For example, the new rape provisions are said to be gendered and apply specifically to women, possibly excluding other scenarios.

Concerns raised over the new bills

  • Detention Period Extension:
    • One of the prominent concerns is the extension of the detention period without charges from the current duration to 90 days in the proposed Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) Bill.
    • This longer detention period raises apprehensions about potential misuse and human rights violations, particularly in cases where individuals may be held without sufficient evidence.
  • Discretionary Powers for Law Enforcement:
    • The introduction of discretionary powers, such as the ‘right to handcuff,’ to law enforcement officers under the new CrPC raises ethical and practical concerns.
    • These discretionary powers might lead to potential misuse, undermining individual rights, and potentially legitimizing violence during arrests.
  • Gendered Provisions:
    • The gendered nature of certain provisions in the new Bills is a concern. For instance, the new rape provisions apply specifically to women.
    • This approach may exclude scenarios involving sexual offenses between men and women and may not adequately address the full range of potential cases.
  • Broad Definitions and Ambiguity:
    • The broad and vague definitions introduced in the new Bills for offenses like sedition, subversive activities, and terrorist acts are sources of concern.
    • These vague definitions can lead to ambiguity in legal interpretations and may potentially infringe on individuals’ rights due to overreach.
  • Repeal and Revocation of Sections:
    • The complete repeal and revocation of certain sections without retaining core legal principles raises concerns about the continuity of established legal precedents.
    • This discontinuity could create confusion and disrupt legal processes, particularly in the transition period.
  • Impact on Minority Rights:
    • The new Bills, with provisions like the ‘Love Jihad’ offense, raise concerns about their potential impact on minority rights and freedom of choice.
    • Such provisions might disproportionately affect certain communities and could be seen as invasive and discriminatory.
  • Lack of Public Participation:
    • Concerns are voiced over the pace at which the new Bills are being introduced, with experts emphasizing the importance of seeking public input and feedback before making sweeping changes to the legal framework.
  • Overarching Disruption:
    • The introduction of such comprehensive changes in a relatively short span of time might lead to disruption in the legal system and raise challenges for law enforcement agencies, legal professionals, and the public.

What are the welcome changes in the new Bills?

  • Definition of Terrorism and Organized Crime:
    • The new Bills introduce a clear definition of terrorism and organized crime, address the evolving nature of criminal activities, and align the legal framework with contemporary challenges.
  • Expedited Trial Process:
    • The new Bills propose measures to expedite the trial process by setting a limit of 30 days for concluding judgments and allowing only two adjournments.
    • These measures aim to prevent unnecessary delays in delivering justice.
  • Mob Lynching as a Separate Offense:
    • The new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill defines mob lynching as an offense, underscoring the importance of addressing violence perpetuated by mobs and providing stricter punishment for such crimes.
  • Stricter Punishment for Crimes Against Women:
    • The new Bills propose stricter punishment for crimes against women, reflecting a commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of women.
  • Petty Offenses and Timely Trials:
    • A provision in the new Bills suggests that trials for petty offenses should be concluded within six months; otherwise, the accused will not be tried.
    • This provision aims to streamline the legal process and reduce the backlog of cases.
  • Recognition of Changing Political and Social Debates:
    • The inclusion of offenses like love Jihad and specific provisions related to mob lynching in the new Bills demonstrates an effort to address issues that have emerged in recent political and social debates.
  • Organized Crime and Community Service:
    • The new Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill introduces provisions related to organized crime and community service, indicating a comprehensive approach to addressing diverse criminal activities and emphasizing societal responsibility.
  • Adaptation to Contemporary Needs:
    • The proposed changes reflect an effort to modernize the legal framework to align with the evolving socio-economic and political landscape.

Way forward

  • Public Participation and Feedback: Open the proposed Bills for public input and discussions to incorporate diverse perspectives, ensuring that the laws are comprehensive and well-rounded.
  • Address Concerns and Ambiguities: Carefully address concerns regarding potential misuse, gendered provisions, and ambiguity in definitions to create clear, equitable, and just laws.
  • Balancing Rights and Security: Strike a balance between safeguarding individual rights and ensuring law enforcement effectiveness when granting discretionary powers.
  • Expert Involvement: Engage legal experts, scholars, and human rights activists to provide insights and ensure a thorough understanding of potential implications.
  • Gradual Implementation and Monitoring: Implement proposed changes incrementally to minimize disruptions and establish a robust monitoring system to evaluate their impact and address issues as they arise.

Conclusion

  • While updating and adapting laws to changing societal values is required, it is crucial to underline the importance of thoughtful and balanced reforms that safeguard individual rights and prevent misuse. As these Bills continue to garner attention and feedback from the public, legal professionals, and lawmakers, it remains to be seen how these transformative changes will shape the future of India’s legal landscape.

Also read:

IPC is history: In 1837, how Macaulay cracked the code

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Centre to overhaul British-era IPC, CrPC, Evidence Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Read the attached story

Mains level: Reforming criminal justice system

overhaul

Central Idea

  • Union Home Minister’s introduction of three crucial bills in the Lok Sabha has set the stage for a transformative shift in India’s criminal justice system.

Overhauling Criminal Justice System

  • The 3 bills introduced are-
  1. Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023,
  2. Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita Bill, 2023, and
  3. Bharatiya Sakshya Bill, 2023
  • They are collectively aimed at replacing outdated laws, have sparked debates and anticipation of profound changes in legal proceedings.
  • The bills seek to repeal the archaic Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, introducing a modern framework aligned with contemporary legal needs.

Key Reforms Proposed:

  • Capital Punishment for Mob Lynching: The Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill introduces capital punishment for mob lynching, emphasizing the gravity of this crime.
  • Stricter Laws for Sexual Violence: Deception leading to sexual relations is designated as a separate crime. False promise of marriage carries a ten-year imprisonment term.
  • Sedition and Terrorism Definitions: The bills redefine sedition and introduce a comprehensive definition of terrorism, separatism, and armed rebellion, streamlining the legal treatment of these offenses.
  • Video Recording of Survivor Statements: For sexual violence cases, the video-recording of survivor statements becomes mandatory, ensuring accurate and reliable evidence collection.
  • Speedy Justice: The bills propose amendments aimed at expediting the criminal justice system, aiming to bring revolutionary changes.
  • Transparency and Accountability: Police accountability is emphasized through measures such as providing complaint status within 90 days, consultation with victims before withdrawal of cases, and introduction of community service for specific crimes.

Impact on Criminal Justice

  • Modernization: The bills signify a transition from colonial-era laws to contemporary legal frameworks that address evolving societal concerns.
  • Faster Trials: Proposed reforms, including fixed timelines for chargesheets and prosecution sanctions, aim to accelerate trial proceedings and curb undue delays.
  • Evidence Integrity: The mandatory videography of search and seizure enhances transparency and prevents tampering, ensuring the integrity of evidence.
  • Victim Empowerment: Consultation with victims before case withdrawal empowers them in the legal process, fostering a victim-centric approach.
  • Accountability and Streamlining: Designating a police officer for custody notifications, mandatory online disclosure, and limited remission of sentences promote transparency and accountability.

Political and Social Implications

  • Political Accountability: The bills emphasize that individuals with political influence will not escape legal consequences, thereby promoting fairness and equality.
  • Public Safety: Stricter laws on mob lynching and sexual violence underscore the government’s commitment to ensuring public safety and protecting vulnerable groups.
  • Legal Efficacy: The bills aim to elevate India’s conviction rate by introducing forensic evidence collection standards and expediting trial proceedings.

Conclusion

  • The introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita Bill, 2023, and its companion bills marks a significant step towards modernizing India’s criminal justice system.
  • These reforms, driven by the government’s commitment to transparency, accountability, and justice, hold the potential to reshape legal proceedings, empower victims, and ensure a more equitable legal environment.
  • As these bills undergo parliamentary scrutiny, the anticipation of their impact on India’s legal landscape is palpable, with expectations of a more efficient, effective, and just criminal justice system for the nation.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Zero FIR?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Zero FIR

Mains level: Not Much

zero FIR

Central Idea

  • Recent incidents of violence and crime in Manipur have brought the concept of the ‘Zero First Information Report (FIR)’ into the spotlight.
  • The Supreme Court has sought for all data regarding such FIRs in Manipur Gangrape Incidence.

What is Zero FIR?

  • Provision and Purpose: Zero FIR allows any police station to register an FIR for a cognisable offence without assigning a regular FIR number initially.
  • No diary: Whereas FIRs have serial numbers assigned to them, zero FIRs are assigned the number ‘0’. Hence the name.
  • Swift Action: The relevant police station subsequently registers a fresh FIR and commences the investigation.
  • Focus on Victims: It is designed to expedite complaint lodging, particularly for serious crimes involving women and children, without the need to approach multiple police stations.
  • Preserving Evidence: Early registration helps prevent the loss or tampering of crucial evidence and witnesses.
  • Transferred Jurisdiction: The Zero FIR is later transferred to the relevant police station where the offence occurred or where the investigation should be conducted.

How does it work?

  • After a police station registers a zero FIR, it has to transfer the complaint to a police station that has the jurisdiction to investigate the alleged offence.
  • Once a zero FIR is transferred, the police station with the appropriate jurisdiction assigns it a serial number, thereby converting it into a regular FIR.

Legal Provisions for Zero FIR

The provision of Zero FIR finds support in various judgments and recommendations.

  • Satvinder Kaur vs. State (1999): The Delhi High Court held that a woman has the right to lodge her complaint from any place other than where the incident occurred.
  • Justice Verma Committee (2012): The introduction of Zero FIR was based on the recommendation of the Justice Verma Committee, which was formed in response to the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case.
  • Lalita Kumari vs. Govt. of UP (2014): The Supreme Court ruled that registration of an FIR is mandatory when information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence.

Back2Basics: First Information Report (FIR)

  • Essential Document: An FIR is a written document prepared by the police upon receiving information about a cognisable offence.
  • What is a cognisable offences? It is when an officer can arrest a suspect without a court’s warrant if/she has “reason to believe” that the person committed the offence and arrest is necessary based on certain factors.
  • Triggering Investigation: It serves as the first step towards initiating the investigation process and subsequent police actions.
  • Registration for Cognizable Offences: Section 154(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) empowers the police to register an FIR for cognizable offences.
  • Punishment for Non-Registration: Section 166A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) provides punishment for public servants failing to record information related to a cognizable offence, with imprisonment of up to two years and a fine.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

SC upholds Extensions for CBI and ED Directors

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: ED, CBI

Mains level: Not Much

cbi ed

Central Idea

  • The Supreme Court has upheld statutory amendments that permit the extension of tenures for Directors of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
  • The court also directed the current ED Director, Sanjay Kumar Mishra, to resign four months before his third extension ends in November.

Amendments and Tenure Extensions

  • Tenure of CBI and ED chiefs: The CBI and ED directors traditionally have fixed tenures of two years.
  • Amendments enacted in 2021: Amendments were made to the Central Vigilance Commission Act, the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, and the Fundamental Rules. These amendments allow directors to receive a maximum of three annual extensions, expanding their tenure beyond the two-year limit.
  • Overcoming the court’s directive: The amendments were introduced shortly after the Supreme Court directed the government to cease granting extensions to Sanjay Kumar Mishra. These amendments provided a way for the government to grant Mishra two additional extensions.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

  • Ruling on back-to-back service extensions: The Supreme Court deemed the consecutive service extensions granted to Mishra in 2021 and 2022 as illegal.
  • Resignation deadline: The court ordered Mishra to resign by July 31, allowing for a smooth transition of responsibilities to his successor. Mishra has served as the ED Director for five years.
  • Disagreement with amicus curiae: The court disagreed with the submissions made by its own amicus curiae, who urged the court to strike down the amendments. The amicus curiae argued that the prospect of service extensions could influence the directors to work in accordance with the government’s desires, undermining the agencies’ independence.

High-Level Committees and Justification

  • Role of High-Level Committees: The amendments require High-Level Committees to recommend directors for service extensions.
  • Committee composition and recommendations: The committees consist of members such as the Central Vigilance Commissioner, Vigilance Commissioners, Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, and Chief Justice of India, depending on the agency. These committees recommend whether an extension is warranted in the public interest.
  • Recording reasons for recommendations: The committees are obligated to provide written justifications for their recommendations.

Constitutionality of Amendments

  • Legislative authority: The court emphasized that the amendments were enacted by Parliament and should not be easily declared unconstitutional.
  • Role of elected representatives: The court stated that the amendments were passed by elected representatives who possess knowledge of the needs and interests of the people.
  • Judicial restraint: The court acknowledged that it should not question the wisdom of the elected representatives unless there is a clear violation of constitutional provisions.

Back2Basics:

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Enforcement Directorate (ED)
Mandate Investigates and solves major crimes in India Enforces economic and financial regulations
Jurisdiction Nationwide Nationwide
Legal Authority Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002
Functional Focus Criminal investigations Economic and financial offenses
Investigative Powers Arrest, search, seizure, and interrogation Attachment, confiscation, and arrest
Collaboration Works closely with state police and agencies Coordinates with various agencies and banks
Reporting Authority Department of Personnel and Training, GOI Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance
Corruption Investigations Has an Anti-Corruption Division Has a separate Economic Offenses Division
Notable Cases 2G Spectrum Scam, Bofors Scandal, etc. Vijay Mallya extradition, PNB fraud case

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

NIA to probe Khalistani Attacks on Indian Missions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NIA

Mains level: Not Much

nia

Central Idea: The National Investigating Agency (NIA) has assumed control of the investigation into the attacks carried out by Khalistan supporters on Indian Missions in the US and Canada.

About National Investigating Agency (NIA)

(1) Establishment and Mandate

  • The NIA was established in December 2008 in response to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
  • It operates under the National Investigation Agency Act.
  • It is responsible for investigating offenses related to terrorism, smuggling of arms, drugs, counterfeit currency, and cross-border infiltration.

(2) Jurisdiction and Powers

  • The NIA has jurisdiction over the whole of India and extends to Indian citizens abroad, government personnel, and individuals on Indian-registered ships and aircraft.
  • It possesses extensive powers to search, seize, arrest, and prosecute those involved in scheduled offenses under various acts, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code.

(3) Scheduled Offenses:

  • The NIA investigates offenses listed under the schedule of the NIA Act, which includes acts related to explosives, hijacking, unlawful activities, terrorism, maritime navigation safety, and more.
  • In 2020, the NIA was empowered to probe offences under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act connected to terrorism cases.

Operational Procedures of the NIA

  1. Referral and Direction: State governments can refer cases involving scheduled offences to the Union Home Ministry, which can then direct the NIA to take over the investigation. The Central government can also initiate investigations suo motu if it believes a scheduled offence has been committed.
  2. Assistance and Cooperation: State governments are required to provide full assistance to the NIA during investigations. This includes sharing information, providing logistical support, and cooperating in the arrest and prosecution of suspects. The NIA relies on the collective efforts of state and central agencies to ensure a comprehensive and effective investigation.
  3. Proactive Investigations: The NIA has the authority to proactively investigate cases involving scheduled offenses, taking the initiative to prevent and preempt acts of terrorism and other serious crimes. This proactive approach enables the agency to identify and neutralize threats in a timely manner, safeguarding national security.

Investigating the recent Attacks

khalistan

  • Attacks on Indian Missions in the US and Canada: Khalistan supporters targeted Indian Missions in the U.S. and Canada in March. A group of protesters attacked the Indian Consulate in San Francisco, breaking makeshift security barriers and placing Khalistani flags inside the premises.
  • Violent Protests at Indian High Commission in London: Pro-Khalistani protestors attempted to vandalize the Indian High Commission in London and removed the national flag during their demonstrations.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Model Prisons Act 2023 to replace British-era Law

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Model Prisons Act

Mains level: Prison reforms in India

prison

Central Idea: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has prepared the ‘Model Prisons Act 2023’ to replace the outdated Prisons Act of 1894.

Model Prisons Act, 2023

  • The focus of the new act is to reform and rehabilitate inmates and overhaul prison administration.
  • The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), a think tank on policing subjects, was tasked with reviewing the laws and preparing a new draft.

Salient Features of the Act

  • The model act includes provisions for the punishment of prisoners and jail staff for using prohibited items such as mobile phones in jails.
  • It establishes and manages high-security jails, open jails (open and semi-open), and provisions for protecting society from hardened criminals and habitual offenders.
  • The act provides legal aid to prisoners and includes provisions for parole, furlough, and premature release as incentives for good conduct.

Need for a New Prisons Act

  • Outdated laws: The existing laws, including the Prisons Act of 1894, the Prisoners Act of 1900, and the Transfer of Prisoners Act of 1950, are outdated and need to be updated.
  • Better prison administration: The MHA found several gaps in the existing act and emphasized the need for a correctional focus in prison administration.
  • Prisoners’ rehab: The existing Prisons Act of 1894 lacks a focus on reform and rehabilitation of prisoners.
  • Use of technology: The act also incorporates the use of technology in prison management and emphasizes the physical and mental well-being of prisoners.

Review and Integration of Existing Laws

  • Along with the Prisons Act of 1894, the Prisoners Act of 1900 and the Transfer of Prisoners Act of 1950 have also been reviewed by the MHA.
  • Relevant provisions from these acts have been assimilated into the Model Prisons Act 2023.
  • State governments and union territory administrations are encouraged to adopt the model act in their jurisdictions, with necessary modifications and the repeal of the existing three acts.

Focus Areas of the Model Act

  • Segregation of prisoners: The act emphasizes security assessment and segregation of prisoners, individual sentence planning, and grievance redressal.
  • Prison development board: It proposes the establishment of a prison development board and aims to promote an attitudinal change towards prisoners.
  • Gendered division: The act provides for separate accommodation for women prisoners, transgender individuals, and other specific groups.
  • Technological push: It highlights the use of technology in prison administration, such as video-conferencing with courts and scientific and technological interventions.

Key Lessons

  • Changing Perspective on Prisons: The statement acknowledges that globally, prisons are now seen as reformative and correctional institutions.
  • Retributive deterrence: Prisons are no longer considered solely as places of retributive deterrence but as institutions where prisoners can be transformed and rehabilitated as law-abiding citizens.

Considerations for prison reforms in India

  • Overcrowding and Understaffing: Addressing the issue of prison overcrowding by exploring alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders, such as diversion programs and community-based sentencing.
  • Legal Aid and Access to Justice: Ensuring that prisoners have access to legal aid and representation to protect their rights and facilitate fair trials. Promoting awareness among inmates about their legal rights and avenues for seeking redress.
  • Prison Healthcare: Enhancing healthcare services within prisons, including mental health support and substance abuse treatment programs.
  • Women and Children in Prisons: Creating gender-responsive policies and separate accommodations for women prisoners, ensuring their safety, privacy, and access to reproductive health services.
  • Community Reintegration: Collaborating with community-based organizations, NGOs, and vocational training institutes to support the reintegration of released prisoners into society.
  • Technology and Digital Solutions: Leveraging technology to improve prison management, record-keeping, and communication systems.

Conclusion

  • The Model Prisons Act, 2023 emphasizes rehabilitation and recognizes the potential of prisoners to become law-abiding citizens.
  • The act provides a framework for creating a more just and rehabilitative criminal justice system.
  • It focuses on the well-being of inmates and aims to ensure their successful reintegration into society.

 

Also read:

PM calls for Prison Reforms and Repeal of Obsolete Laws

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Narco Analysis Test?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NARCO test

Mains level: Not Much

narco test

Central Idea

  • Wrestlers at Jantar Mantar expressed their willingness to undergo narco analysis test.
  • One of them emphasized that the test should be monitored by the Supreme Court.

What is a Narco Test?

  • In a ‘narco’ or narcoanalysis test, a drug called sodium pentothal is injected into the body of the accused.
  • This transports the accused to a hypnotic or sedated state, in which their imagination is neutralised.
  • In this hypnotic state, the accused is understood as being incapable of lying, and is expected to divulge information that is true.
  • Sodium pentothal or sodium thiopental is a fast-acting, short duration anaesthetic, which is used in larger doses to sedate patients during surgery.
  • It belongs to the barbiturate class of drugs that act on the central nervous system as depressants.

 Difference from Polygraph Tests

  • It is important to differentiate narco-analysis tests from polygraph tests, as they serve different purposes.
  • Polygraph tests rely on physiological responses to detect lies, measuring variables such as blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration, and sweat gland activity while the suspect is being questioned.
  • In contrast, narco-analysis tests induce a hypnotic state through the administration of drugs, aiming to weaken the subject’s resolve to lie.

Reasons to use such tests

  • In recent decades, investigating agencies have sought to employ these tests in investigation, which are sometimes seen as being a “softer alternative” to torture or “third degree” to extract the truth from suspects.
  • However, neither method has been proven scientifically to have a 100% success rate, and remain contentious in the medical field as well.

Restrictions on these tests

  • No self-incrimination: The Bench took into consideration international norms on human rights, the right to a fair trial, and the right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3) of the Constitution.
  • Consent of the accused: In ‘Selvi & Ors vs. State of Karnataka & Anr’ (2010), a Supreme Court Bench comprising then CJI ruled that no lie detector tests should be administered “except on the basis of consent of the accused”. The subject’s consent should be recorded before a judicial magistrate, the court said.
  • Legal assistance to such convicts: Those who volunteer must have access to a lawyer, and have the physical, emotional, and legal implications of the test explained to them by police and the lawyer.
  • Guidelines at place: It said that the ‘Guidelines for the Administration of Polygraph Test on an Accused’ published by the National Human Rights Commission in 2000, must be strictly followed.

Previous Cases and Supreme Court Ruling

  • Narco analysis tests have been employed in significant cases like the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Abdul Karim Telgi fake stamp paper scam, the Nithari killings case in 2007, and the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case involving Ajmal Kasab.
  • However, it was in 2010 that the Supreme Court delivered a ruling addressing the legality and admissibility of narco tests.
  • According to the Supreme Court ruling in “Selvi & Ors vs State of Karnataka & Anr” (2010), lie detector tests should not be administered without the consent of the accused.
  • The ruling emphasized that those who volunteer for the test must have access to legal counsel and be fully informed about the physical, emotional, and legal implications of the test.

Court Decisions and Examples

  • The Supreme Court, relying on its 2010 ruling, rejected a petition to produce narco-test reports in the case of Aarushi Talwar, deeming it an attempt to delay the trial proceedings.
  • In 2019, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wanted to conduct narco-analysis tests on a former Punjab National Bank (PNB) staffer involved in an alleged fraud case, but the manager did not provide consent.
  • Last year, a Delhi court allowed a narco test on Aaftab Poonawalla, a murder suspect, after he voluntarily consented and acknowledged the potential consequences.

Legal Position before Supreme Court Ruling

  • In 2006, the Madras High Court stated that scientific tests could be used by investigating agencies when the accused did not come forward with the truth, as it did not violate testimonial compulsion.
  • Similarly, the 2008 Delhi High Court ruling in “Sh. Shailender Sharma vs State & Another” acknowledged the need for thorough investigations and stated that narco-analysis tests do not suffer from constitutional infirmities.

Can the results of these tests be considered as “confessions”?

  • Not a confession: Because those in a drugged-induced state cannot exercise a choice in answering questions that are put to them.
  • Assumed as evidence: However, any information or material subsequently discovered with the help of such a voluntarily-taken test can be admitted as evidence.
  • Supports investigation: It reveals the location of, say, a physical piece of evidence (which is often something like a murder weapon) in the course of the test.

Way Forward

  • Evaluate the demand and implications of narco analysis tests in legal proceedings, considering both the benefits and ethical concerns.
  • Engage in a broader discussion on the forced intrusion into an individual’s mental processes and its impact on human dignity and rights.
  • Explore alternative methods of gathering evidence while ensuring constitutional rights are respected and upheld.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Supreme Court rulings on Encounters

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Issues with Extrajudicial Killings

encounter

Central idea: A gangster-turned-politician son and his aide were killed in an encounter in UP.

Why discuss this?

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Supreme Court have laid down proper guidelines and procedures to be followed to prevent any misuse of power by the law enforcement agencies.
  • However, this encounter has brought to the forefront the issue of extra-judicial killings or “encounters” by the police in India.

Supreme Court Guidelines on Encounters

  • In September 2014, a bench of then CJI RM Lodha and Rohinton Fali Nariman issued detailed guidelines.
  • These guidelines came in the case “People’s Union for Civil Liberties v State of Maharashtra”.
  • The guidelines enumerated 16 points to be followed in the matters of investigating police encounters in the cases of death as the standard procedure for a thorough, effective and independent investigation-
  1. Registration of a first information report (FIR) as mandatory
  2. Magisterial inquiry
  3. Keeping written records of intelligence inputs
  4. Independent investigation by bodies such as the CID
  5. A Magisterial Inquiry must invariably be held in all cases of death which occur in the course of police action
  6. Next of kin of the deceased must invariably be associated in such inquiry
  7. In every case when a complaint is made against the police alleging commission of a criminal act on their part, which makes out a cognizable case of culpable homicide, an FIR to this effect must be registered under appropriate sections of the IPC
  8. Such an inquiry made under Section 176 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, must show “whether use of force was justified and action taken was lawful.”
  9. Whenever the police receives any intelligence or tip-off on criminal movements or activities relating to the commission of grave criminal offence, “it shall be reduced into writing in some form (preferably into case diary) or in some electronic form.”
  10. Following such tip-off or intelligence, if an encounter takes place and a firearm is used by the police party, resulting in death, then an FIR to that effect has to be registered and forwarded to the court under Section 157 without delay.
  11. Provisions for an independent investigation into the encounter
  12. The requirements/norms must be strictly observed in all cases of death and grievous injury in police encounters by treating them as law declared under Article 141 of Indian Constitution.
  13. The law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all other courts in Indian Territory.
  14. NHRC’s involvement is not necessary, “unless there is serious doubt about independent and impartial investigation.”
  15. The information about the incident must be sent to NHRC or the State Human Rights Commission.

NHRC Guidelines on Encounters

  • The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked all states and Union Territories to ensure that police follow a set of guidelines in cases where death is caused in police encounters.
  • These included the police’s duty to enter all information received about encounter deaths in an “appropriate register” and provisions for investigation by independent agencies like the State CID.

Issues with such encounters

  • Defies rule of law: This practice undermines the rule of law and due process, and violates the right to life and other human rights.
  • Use of force: There have been allegations of police and security forces using excessive force.
  • Fake encounters: There have been instances of staging encounters, and conducting fake encounters to eliminate suspects without following the due legal process.
  • Autocracy: These incidents have raised concerns about impunity, lack of accountability, and the need for reforms to ensure that law enforcement officials are held accountable for their actions.
  • Distrust among the public: Public often tend to lose belief among the constitutional process of justice.

Why are such encounters popular among public?

  • Lack of trust in the legal system: Some people may view extrajudicial killings and encounters as a way of bypassing the legal system which they may view as corrupt or inefficient.
  • Perception of safety: There may be a belief among some members of the public that such encounters can help to deter criminals and make their communities safer.
  • Frustration with the slow pace of justice: The Indian legal system can be slow and protracted, and some people may view extrajudicial killings and encounters as a way to expedite the process of justice.
  • Lack of awareness about human rights: Some people may not be aware of the human rights implications of such encounters, or may view them as a necessary means to an end.

Conclusion

  • It is important to note, however, that extrajudicial killings and encounters are illegal, undermine the rule of law, and violate human rights.
  • They also carry the risk of abuse, and can result in innocent people being targeted or killed.
  • Therefore, such practices cannot be justified or condoned in a democratic and law-abiding society.

Back2Basics: National Human Rights Commission

  • NHRC is an independent statutory body established in India on 12 October 1993 under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
  • It is responsible for the protection and promotion of human rights, and prevention of their violations.
  • It is empowered to investigate complaints of human rights violations and recommend appropriate remedial measures.
  • It also monitors the human rights situation in the country, undertakes research and advocacy, and conducts various educational and awareness programs to promote human rights awareness and sensitivity among various sections of society.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

The Need For Humane Policing In India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Police Excesses, Factors, challenges and solutions

Central Idea

  • The recent case of human rights violation against an IPS officer in Ambasamudram highlights the need for humane policing in India. The history of police brutality across the globe, including in the US, reveals the need for change in the policing system. The pressure to produce results, coupled with corruption and lack of ethics training, contributes to police excesses, which must be curbed.

History of Policing Excesses

  • Policing Excesses in U.S: The history of policing in many countries is pockmarked by episodes of excesses, and the U.S. is one such country which has had far too many instances of police torture.
  • For example: The Rodney King incident of 1991 in Los Angeles and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020 are some examples of police brutality.

Factors Contributing to Police Excesses in India

  • Corruption among public servants: Corruption is rampant in India and is a major factor contributing to police excesses. Bribery and corruption make it easy for criminals to escape the law and for police officers to use violence and coercion to extract money and other benefits.
  • The pressure to produce results: Police officers are often under tremendous pressure to produce results and show that they are making progress in solving cases. This pressure can lead to an overzealous approach to policing, with officers resorting to torture and other illegal methods to extract information and solve cases quickly.
  • Lack of ethics training: Police officers in India are not given sufficient training in ethics and human rights. This lack of training makes it easier for officers to resort to violence and abuse of power, as they do not understand the consequences of their actions.
  • Political interference: In some cases, politicians and other powerful people may interfere in police investigations or use their influence to protect criminals. This interference can undermine the rule of law and make it more difficult for police officers to do their job effectively and without fear or favor.
  • Poor working conditions: Police officers in India often work long hours in difficult and dangerous conditions. This can lead to stress and fatigue, which can in turn lead to a higher incidence of police excesses.
  • Lack of accountability: There is often little accountability for police officers who commit excesses. In many cases, officers who are found guilty of human rights violations are simply transferred to another location, rather than being punished or dismissed from the force. This lack of accountability sends a message to other officers that they can get away with abuse of power and violence.

Role of Technology and Ethics in Policing

  • Both technology and ethics are necessary for effective policing: While technology can help solve crimes and improve policing efficiency, ethics and a commitment to human rights are necessary to ensure that police officers act within the law and respect the rights of all citizens.
  • Technology alone is not enough: The technology has played a significant role in improving policing in India, with many officers now trained in the use of modern tools and techniques to solve crimes. However, technology alone is not enough, and that ethics must also be prioritized in policing.
  • Training in ethics must be prioritized at all levels of the police force: Many police officers in India lack sufficient training in ethics and human rights, which makes it easier for them to resort to violence and abuse of power. Training in ethics must be prioritized at all levels of the police force, from the highest-ranking officers to those on the front lines.
  • Police leaders are crucial players: The police leaders, such as DGPs and IGPs, have a crucial role to play in indoctrinating young recruits on the value of sticking to the law and civilised behaviour.

What is mean by humane policing?

  • Humane policing refers to a style of law enforcement that places a greater emphasis on preserving the human rights and dignity of individuals.
  • Humane policing recognizes that police officers are entrusted with great power and authority and that they have a duty to exercise this power with respect, compassion, and professionalism.
  • It prioritizes building trust and positive relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
  • Humane policing It seeks to avoid the use of excessive force, unnecessary aggression, or intimidation in policing activities.
  • It recognizes the importance of accountability and transparency in law enforcement.
  • It also recognizes the importance of training and education for police officers in areas such as cultural competence, mental health awareness, and conflict resolution.

Conclusion

  • It is sad and equally true that many in the political firmament subscribe to the philosophy that without physical force on misbehaving citizens, the quality of policing cannot improve and law and order cannot be maintained. This perception has to be changed. India needs a human policing. Moreover, the authorities must take swift action against offending officials to send a strong message that no illegal physical treatment of crime suspects will be tolerated.

Mains Question

Q. Rising cases of police excesses reveals the need for change in the policing system. In this backdrop highlight the factors behind Policing Excesses in India and what steps can be taken to promote humane policing?

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is the Interpol, and what is a Red Notice?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Interpol, Red Notices

Mains level: UAPA issues

interpol

 

In a major setback to Indian agencies, Interpol has taken down from its website the Red Notice against a fugitive who is wanted in connection with the ₹13,578-crore Punjab National Bank fraud cases.

What is the news?

  • The person whom the Union Ministry of Home Affairs has listed as a “terrorist” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

Why has Interpol rejected India’s request?

  • The Interpol has said that India has failed to provide sufficient information to support its case.
  • It criticized the UAPA for being misused to target minority groups and human rights activists without “respecting” their right to due process and a fair trial.
  • While acknowledging the separatists leader, the Interpol has said that his activities have a “clear political dimension”, which cannot be the subject of a Red Corner Notice.

What is the Interpol?

  • The Interpol, or International Criminal Police Organization, is an inter-governmental organization comprising 195 member countries, which helps police forces in all these countries to better coordinate their actions.
  • It enables member countries to share and access data on crimes and criminals and offers a range of technical and operational support.
  • It is run by a secretary general with its headquarters in Lyon, France, with a global complex for innovation in Singapore, and several satellite offices in different regions.
  • India accepted Interpol membership in June 1956.

How does it function in member countries?

  • Interpol has a National Central Bureau (NCB) in each member country, which is the central point of contact for both the general secretariat and the other NCBs around the world.
  • Each NCB is run by police officials of that country, and usually sits in the government ministry responsible for policing. (MHA in case of India.)
  • Interpol manages 19 police databases with information on crimes and criminals (from names and fingerprints to stolen passports), accessible in real-time to countries.
  • It also offers investigative support such as forensics, analysis, and assistance in locating fugitives around the world.

What is a Red Notice?

  • Criminals or suspects often flee to other countries to evade facing justice.
  • A Red Corner Notice, or Red Notice (RN) alerts police forces across the world about fugitives who are wanted internationally.
  • Red Notices are issued for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence.
  • A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
  • An RN is published by Interpol at the request of a member country.

Indian fugitives on this RN

  • Among the most popular Indians on this list are jeweller Mehul Choksi and diamantaire Nirav Modi.

Is an RN a warrant of arrest?

  • An RN is only an international wanted persons’ notice; it is not an international arrest warrant.
  • Interpol itself does not want individuals; they are wanted by a country or an international tribunal.
  • This means the Interpol cannot compel 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.
  • Interpol says that an RN must comply with its constitution and rules.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Paramilitary Forces: Addressing Concerns and Demands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Para Forces

Mains level: Paramilitary Forces and their mandate, challenges

Paramilitary

Central Idea

  • Last month, India observed the day of remembrance for the Pulwama attack that took place on February 14, 2019, which resulted in the death of 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel. The lesson learned is that there is an urgent need to address the grievances of paramilitary forces in terms of training, morale, and parity with regular armed forces to ensure the effectiveness of these forces in maintaining internal security.

Background

  • The Forgotten Dantewada Attack: An earlier attack on April 6, 2010, in which 76 CRPF personnel were killed by left-wing extremists in Dantewada, has faded away from public attention despite being the deadliest attack on security forces in any counter-insurgency or anti-terrorist operations in independent India.
  • The Pulwama attack: The attack on February 14, 2019, claimed the lives of 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), India’s largest paramilitary force. The Pulwama attack resulted in an unprecedented public outcry and evoked emotional responses across all sections of society. It is important to remember this incident to prevent a repeat in the future.

Paramilitary

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

  • Motto: “Service and Loyalty”
  • Logo: The CRPF logo features a crossed rifle and a light machine gun over a map of India, with a laurel wreath and the words “Central Reserve Police Force” written in both Hindi and English. The crossed rifles and the light machine gun represent the CRPF’s role in maintaining internal security, while the map of India signifies its national duty.
  • Establishment: CRPF is the largest Central Armed Police Force of India. It was established in 1939 as the Crown Representative’s Police (CRP) to assist British rulers in managing unrest and law and order issues. After India gained independence in 1947, it became the Central Reserve Police Force.
  • Responsibility: The CRPF is primarily responsible for maintaining internal security, counter-terrorism operations, and assisting the state police in maintaining law and order. It also assists in disaster management and protects vital installations.
  • Personnel and deployment: With more than 300,000 personnel, the CRPF is one of the most significant components of India’s internal security apparatus. It operates in a variety of environments, including urban, jungle, and mountainous terrain. The CRPF has also been deployed in international peacekeeping operations, such as in Haiti, Sudan, and Congo.

Challenges Faced by Paramilitary Forces

  • Security threats: Paramilitary forces are often deployed in areas where there are security threats such as terrorist attacks, insurgencies, and border conflicts. These threats pose a significant risk to the lives of the personnel, and they have to be constantly vigilant to prevent any untoward incidents.
  • Pay and benefits: The Indian Army personnel receive higher pay, better benefits, and retirement benefits compared to paramilitary forces. The Indian Army also has a well-established pension system, while paramilitary forces have a Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
  • Inadequate infrastructure: These forces often operate in remote areas with inadequate infrastructure, including basic facilities such as food, water, and shelter. This makes it challenging for the personnel to carry out their duties effectively, especially during long deployments.
  • Inadequate training: Proper training is essential for paramilitary personnel to carry out their duties effectively. However, due to budget constraints and a lack of resources, training is often inadequate, which can lead to inefficiencies and mistakes during operations.
  • De-induction of Army: The deinduction of the Indian Army from certain areas has led to the CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) and other paramilitary forces being tasked with carrying out hard duties, leading to overstretched personnel and compromised training.
  • Stress and mental health: The nature of the job is often stressful, and paramilitary personnel are frequently exposed to traumatic situations that can have long-term effects on their mental health. Unfortunately, mental health resources are often limited, and the stigma surrounding mental health issues can prevent personnel from seeking help.
  • Lack of modern equipment: Paramilitary forces require modern equipment and weapons to carry out their duties effectively. However, due to budget constraints and bureaucratic red tape, acquiring such equipment is often delayed, which puts the personnel at risk.

Paramilitary

Need for Parity and Better Treatment

  • Armed Forces of the union category: The Delhi High Court order of December 2022 that recognised the paramilitary as a force under the category of ‘Armed Forces of the union’ and underscores the need to address the genuine grievances of the paramilitary personnel.
  • Service facilities: The paramilitary force faces discrimination in matters ranging from pension to service facilities.
  • Old pension scheme: Former personnel and their families have demanded the old pension scheme for serving members of the paramilitary force.
  • Training: The training and morale of paramilitary personnel must be taken care of to maintain optimum performance and effectiveness.

Paramilitary

Other key paramilitary and special forces in India

  • National Security Guard (NSG): NSG is a federal contingency force tasked with counter-terrorism and special operations. It was established in 1984 and operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Border Security Force (BSF): BSF is a border guarding force responsible for guarding India’s land borders during peace time and preventing trans-border crimes. It was established in 1965 and operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB): SSB is a border guarding force tasked with guarding India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan. It was established in 1963 and operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP): ITBP is a specialized mountain force responsible for guarding India’s borders with China. It was established in 1962 and operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • Assam Rifles: Assam Rifles is a paramilitary force responsible for maintaining law and order in the northeast region of India. It was established in 1835 and operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Conclusion

  • The observance of Pulwama day should serve as a reminder to avoid a repeat of the tragedy and calls for analysing the lessons learnt and taking corrective measures. It is important to listen to the genuine grievances of the paramilitary personnel to maintain their morale and enhance the security environment of the nation.

Mains Question

Q. Discuss the challenges faced by paramilitary forces In India? What needs to be done to maintain their morale and to ensure the effectiveness of these forces in maintaining internal security?


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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

PM calls for Prison Reforms and Repeal of Obsolete Laws

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various committees mentioned

Mains level: Prison reforms in India

prison

Prime Minister has suggested prison reforms to improve jail management and recommended repealing obsolete criminal laws, at the national annual police meet.

Issues with Prisons in India

  • Overcrowding: 149 jails in the country are overcrowded by more than 100% and that 8 are overcrowded by margins of a 500%. Overcrowding takes affects the already constrained prison resources and separation between different classes of prisoners difficult.
  • Under-trials: More than 65% of the prison population in India are under trials. The share of the prison population awaiting trial or sentencing in India is extremely high by international standards; for example, it is 11% in the UK, 20% in the US and 29% in France.
  • Lack of legal aid: Legal aid lawyers are poorly paid, and often over-burdened with cases. Further, there is no monitoring mechanism to evaluate the quality of legal aid representation in most states.
  • Miserable conditions:Prison structures in India are in dilapidated condition. Further, lack of space, poor ventilation, poor sanitation and hygiene make living conditions deplorable in Indian prisons.
  • Shortage of staff:The ratio between the prison staff and the prison population is approximately 1:7. In the absence of adequate prison staff, overcrowding of prisons leads to rampant violence and other criminal activities inside the jails.
  • Torture and Sexual abuse: Prisoners are subjected to inhuman psychological and physical torture. Sexual abuse of persons in custody is also part of the broader pattern of torture in custody.
  • Custodial deaths:In 2015, a total of 1,584 prisoners died in jails. A large proportion of the deaths in custody were from natural and easily curable causes aggravated by poor prison conditions. Further, there have been allegations of custodial deaths due to torture
  • Underpaid and unpaid labor: Labor is extracted from prisoners without paying proper wages.
  • Discrimination:According to Humans Rights Watch, a “rigid” class system exists in Indian prisons. On the other hand, socio-economically disadvantaged prisoners are deprived of basic human dignity.
  • Inadequate security measures and management: Poor security measures and prison management often leads to violence among inmates and resultant injury and in some cases death.
  • Lack of mental healthcare: In prison the problem of the overcrowding, poor sanitary facilities, lack of physical and mental activities, lack of decent health care, increase the likelihood of health problems. Further, mental health care has negligible focus in Indian prisons.
  • Colonial system:Absence of reformative approach in the Indian prison system has not only resulted in ineffective integration with society but also has failed to provide productive engagement opportunities for prisoners after their release

SC Judgements in this regard

  • Through a number of judgements {like Maneka Gandhi case(Right to life and personal with dignity), Ramamurthy vs. State of Karnataka (on conditions of prisons) Prem Sankar Shukla vs. Delhi Administration (no handcuffing).
  • The Supreme has upheld three broad principles regarding imprisonment and custody.
  1. A person in prison does not become a non-person;
  2. A person in prison is entitled to all human rights within the limitations of imprisonment
  3. There is no justification for aggravating the suffering already inherent in the process of incarceration.

Major legislations for prison reforms

  • The Prisons Act, 1894:It contains various provisions relating to health, employment, duties of jail officers, medical examination of prisoners, prison offenses etc.
  • Transfer of Prisoners Act, 1950– The Act deals with the transfer of a prisoner from state to another state
  • Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003:The act enables the transfer of foreign prisoners to the country of their origin to serve the remaining part of their sentence. It also enables the transfer of prisoners of Indian origin convicted by a foreign court to serve their sentence in India
  • Model Prison Manual 2016:It aims at bringing in basic uniformity in laws, rules and regulations governing the administration of prisons and the management of prisoners across all the states and UTs in India
  • Legal service Authority Act, 1987:According to the law, a person in custody is entitled to free legal aid.

Committees and Recommendations

Various Committees and Commissions have been constituted by the State Governments as well as the Government of India to study and make suggestions for improving the prison conditions and administration.

(1) Mulla Committee, 1983

The major recommendations of the committee included:

  • The setting up of a National Prison Commission to oversee the modernization of the prisons in India
  • Putting a ban on clubbing together juvenile offenders with the hardened criminals in prison and enacting a comprehensive and protective legislation for the security and protective care of delinquent juveniles
  • Segregation of mentally ill prisoners to a mental asylum
  • The conditions of prison should be improved by making adequate arrangements for food, clothing, sanitation and ventilation etc.
  • Lodging of under trial in jails should be reduced to bare minimum and they should be kept separate from the convicted prisoners

(2) Krishna Iyer Committee, 1987

  • The committee mandated to study the condition of women prisoners in the country.
  • It recommended induction of more women in the police force in view of their special role in tackling women and child offenders.

(3) National Policy on Prison Reforms and Correctional Administration, 2007

  • In 2005, the Government of India constituted a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of the Director General, the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D).
  • This committee used the reports of Justice Mulla Committee Report & Justice Krishna Iyer Committee and made several additional and new recommendations.

(4) Justice Amitava Roy Committee, 2018

  • In 2018 the Supreme Court constituted Amitava Roy Committee to look into the aspect of jail reforms across the country and make recommendations on several aspects, including overcrowding in prisons.
  • It recommended- Special fast-track courts should be set up to deal exclusively with petty offences which have been pending for more than 5 years.
  • Further, accused persons who are charged with petty offences and that granted bail, but who are unable to arrange surety should be released on a Personal Recognizance (PR) Bond.

Steps taken

  • Modernization of Prisons scheme: The scheme for modernization of prisons was launched in 2002-03 with the objective of improving the condition of prisons, prisoners and prison personnel. Various components included the construction of new jails, repair and renovation of existing jails, improvement in sanitation and water supply etc.
  • E-Prisons Project: It aims to introduce efficiency in prison management through digitization.
  • Open Prisons: The All-India Committee on Jail Reform constituted in 1980 recommended the government to set up and develop open prisons in each state and UT similar to the Sanganer open camp in Rajasthan.

Way Forward

  • Urgent repair: There is a dire need to address the issue of overcrowding in Indian jails. Further, sincere efforts should be made to improve living conditions which include better sanitation and hygiene, and adequate food and clothing.
  • Address health concerns: There should be an urgent focus on addressing health issues and ensuring access to medical care among prisoners. Women’s health needs, covering mental, physical, sexual and reproductive health, require particular attention.
  • Reform offenders: Efforts should be made to reform offenders in the social stratification by giving them appropriate correctional treatment.
  • Training and rehabilitation: Initiatives should be taken to impart vocational training to prisoners and ensure proper rehabilitation and social inclusion after release
  • Legal aid: The government must take initiative to improve the conditions of under-trial prisoners which can be achieved by speeding of the trial procedure, simplification of the bail procedure and providing effective legal aid
  • More open prisons: Open prison as an effective institution for the rehabilitation of offenders has been highlighted by Supreme Court as late as 1979 in the Dharambeer v State of U.P case. Open prisons should be encouraged as correctional facilities.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Police conference: Highlighting the Challenges and solutions

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Police conference, Concept of SMART police etc

Mains level: Challenges faced by police and suggestions

conference

Context

  • A conference of the Directors General of Police of all the states and union territories is being held in Delhi from January 20 to 22. The Prime Minister will be attending all the sessions of the three-day conference.

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All you need to know about the Conference

  • This conference of the Directors General of Police is an annual feature.
  • It is organised by the Intelligence Bureau and its deliberations are presided over by the Director, IB, who is considered primus inter pares among the senior-most police officers of the country.
  • This year’s conference, according to media reports, will be discussing emerging trends in militancy and hybrid militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, counter-terrorism, cryptocurrency, drug trafficking, radicalisation and other important matters.

What is missing in the agenda?

  • Problems at grass root are rarely discussed: The agenda, year after year, reflects the security-related problems of the country at the macro level. So far so good. But the grass roots problems are seldom taken up or deliberated upon.
  • Dismal picture of Police stations: The strength of a chain, as they say, is determined by its weakest link, and the weakest link today is the police station. Leaving aside the model police stations and some in the metro cities, the average police station presents a dismal picture dilapidated building, case property like motorcycles and cars littered all over the compound, no reception room, filthy lockup, and so on.
  • Overburdened staff: The staff, overworked and fatigued, is generally unresponsive, if not rude.
  • Available resources are limited resources: They may not have access to vehicles or have run out of fuel as per the allotted quota.
  • Political influence: Even if you are able to speak with a responsible sub-inspector, they may be pressured by politicians to change their actions.

For instance: The data according to the Status of Policing in India Report 2019

  • Shortage of personnel: According to the report, police in India work at 77% of their sanctioned strength and these personnel work for 14 hours a day on average.
  • Lack of equipment and technology: There are 70 police stations which have no wireless, 214 police stations that have no telephone and 240 police stations that have no vehicles.
  • Poor housing and training facilities: Housing facilities for police are unsatisfactory. Training of personnel is inadequate, the training institutions have not kept pace with the changing paradigm on the law or crime front and are manned generally by unwanted, demotivated officers.
  • Technology gap: Technology support leaves much to be desired; the criminals are, in fact, way ahead of the police.

Hard fact and the concerns over the police duties in India

  • Police Officer’s Duties and Expectations: The demanding role and expectations of police officers as first responders to any crime, 24/7 duty and assisting other departments with their duties. The public has no obligation to assist police officers. For instance, ASI was stabbed to death in Delhi, bystanders were just standing and watching the scene.
  • High death toll among Police Personnel: It is estimated that 36,044 police personnel have died in the performance of their duties since India’s independence. It is pointed out that the corresponding figure for all the countries of Europe taken together is much less.
  • Duties to become more challenging in future: It is acknowledged that police duties in India are tougher than in any other part of the world, and that these duties are likely to become even more challenging in the future, with the rise of new forms of crime such as terrorist crimes, cybercrimes, drug trafficking, and cryptocurrency.

What improvements are suggested?

  1. The Need to Prioritize Basic Matters: It is important to prioritize basic police matters and ensure that they are effectively dealt with. Once the police station is able to inspire confidence among the people, many other issues will fall into place.
  2. Division of Conference into Two Parts: The format of police conferences should be changed by dividing it into two parts – one dealing with intelligence matters and the other dealing with crime and law and order issues.
  3. Roles of DBI and CBI: It is proposed that the Director of Intelligence Bureau (DIB) preside over the intelligence-related matters, and the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) assisted by a senior-most Director General of a state police nominated by the Ministry of Home Affairs should conduct the proceedings of the conference dealing with crime and law and order matters.
  4. Need for Specialized Treatment of Crime: the crime is becoming increasingly complex and requires specialized treatment, and that this bifurcation is necessary in order to effectively address the different aspects of crime.

Do you know the concept of SMART police?

  • The Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the concept of SMART Police.
  • SMART stands for: S: Strict but sensitive, M: Modern and mobile, A: Alert and accountable, R: Reliable and responsive, and  T: Trained and tech-savvy.
  • It also aims to make the police more responsive to the needs of the people, and to address issues of police brutality, corruption, and lack of accountability to citizens.

Conclusion

  • The Prime Minister’s concept of SMART Police, which aims to create a force that is strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsive, techno-savvy and trained, has the potential to bring about a significant change in the working of the police and a new era for the people of the country. It’s important for the conference to review the progress made in implementing this transformation in the police and work towards achieving these objectives to bring about a much-needed change in the police force.

Mains question

Q. What are the major challenges faced by the Indian police force? Discuss improvements suggested to address them?

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

In news: Jan Vishwas Bill, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Decriminalization of certain offences

bill

Last week, the Union Government tabled the Jan Vishwas Bill, 2022, (Bill) in the Parliament with the objective of “decriminalising” 183 offences across 42 legislations and enhancing the ease of living and doing business in India.

Jan Vishwas (Amendment of Provisions) Bill, 2022,

  • It sought to amend 42 Acts to reduce the compliance burden on individuals and businesses and ensure ease of doing business.
  • Some Acts that are amended by the Bill include: the Indian Post Office Act, 1898, the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991, and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Key provisions of the Bill

(1) Replacing imprisonment with money penalty:

Under the Bill, several offences with an imprisonment term in certain Acts have been decriminalised by imposing only a monetary penalty under the –

  • Agricultural Produce (Grading and Marking) Act, 1937, counterfeiting grade designation marks is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to five thousand rupees. The Bill replaces this with a penalty of eight lakh rupees.
  • Information Technology Act, 2000, disclosing personal information in breach of a lawful contract is punishable with imprisonment of up to three years, or a fine of up to five lakh rupees, or both. The Bill replaces this with a penalty of up to 25 lakh rupees.
  • Patents Act, 1970, a person selling a falsely represented article as patented in India is subject to a fine of up to one lakh rupees. The Bill replaces the fine with a penalty, which may be up to ten lakh rupees.  In case of a continuing claim, there shall be an additional penalty of one thousand rupees per day.

(2) Revision of fines and penalties: 

  • The Bill increases the fines and penalties for various offences in the specified Acts.
  • Further, these fines and penalties will be increased by 10% of the minimum amount every three years.
  • It is a welcome move and can be viewed as an attempt to reverse the trend of overcriminalisation. However, there is much that needs to be done in order to institutionalise efforts aimed at decriminalisation.

Why was this legislation brought up?

  • Rise in criminal cases: An unprincipled growth of criminal law has long been a cause of concern for scholars of law.
  • Political motives: The act of criminalisation often becomes a medium for governments to put across a strong image as opposed to punishing wrongful conduct.
  • Over-criminalization: Governments offer little in the way of justifications to support such decisions. This phenomenon has been termed “overcriminalisation” by scholars.
  • Increased burden on Judiciary: As per the National Judicial Data Grid, of the 4.3 crore pending cases, nearly 3.2 crore cases are in relation to criminal proceedings.
  • Overcrowding of prisons: Similarly, the rise in the prison population is also proof of this. As per the NCRB’s Prison Statistics of 2021, a total of 5.54 lakh prisoners were confined in prisons against a capacity of 4.25 lakh.

Scope of the Bill

  • Hefty fines cannot create deterrence: The Jan Vishwas Bill either omits penal provisions or replaces them with fines in legislation. These are primarily offences which are regulatory in nature.
  • Quasi-decriminalisation: By and large, an examination of the provisions of the Bill reveals that stress has been on the replacement of imprisonment clauses with fines. This can hardly be termed as ‘decriminalisation’.

Achieving decriminalisation in real sense

There is much that is required for the efforts aimed at decriminalisation to fructify in any meaningful way.

(1) Stigma of fines to create deterrence

  • In his seminal piece titled – ‘Is the Criminal Law a Lost Cause?’ Mr. Andrew Ashworth’s creates a distinction between regulatory offences and penal offences and exemplifies the same through the functional distinction between a tax and a fine.
  • While the purpose of a tax is primarily regulatory in nature, a fine carries with it an element of censure and stigma.

(2) De-linking petty economic offences with over-criminalization

  • Secondly, the Observer Research Foundation’s report titled Jailed for Doing Business found that there are more than 26,134 imprisonment clauses in a total of 843 economic legislations, rules and regulations which seek to regulate businesses and economic activities in India.
  • In this light, the number of offences deregulated under the Bill seems to be a mere drop in India’s regulatory framework.

(3) Regulatory offences to be considered for ‘decriminalisation’

  • This need to be prioritised not only from the point of view of the ease of doing business, but also from the points of view of the ills that plague our criminal justice system itself.
  • Debates are ongoing about the decriminalisation of several penal offences such as sedition, offences under NDPS Act & UAPA Acts, triple talaq and anti-conversion laws etc.
  • There is an urgent need to assess these offences on a principled basis.

Conclusion

  • The intent of the Bill is merely to ensure that imprisonment is replaced with fines for as many offences as possible.
  • The extent to which it succeeds in ‘decriminalising’ offences, however, is questionable.
  • If these faults are to be rectified, it is pertinent that a more comprehensive exercise is undertaken and that the government prioritises the needs and requirements of the criminal justice system.
  • Still this legislation is a welcome move in all senses.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

There should be uniformity in the rules for granting parole

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: parole and furlough

Mains level: Prison reforms and criminal justice system

rules

Context

  • There was a huge uproar in the media when Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, a convict serving a 20-year prison sentence for raping two disciples, was seen organising an online ‘satsang’ while on a 40-day parole in October. On the other hand, S. Nalini, a convict in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, who was serving life imprisonment, was given several extensions of parole from December 2021 until her release. Lack of uniformity in parole rules does not bode well for the criminal justice system.

What is Parole and furlough?

  • Short term release: Furlough and parole envisage a short-term release from custody, both aimed as reformative steps towards prisoners.
  • Not a Right but a case of Specific exigency: Parole is granted to meet a “specific exigency” and cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
  • Circumstances considered: Both provisions are subject to the circumstances of the prisoner, such as jail behaviour, the gravity of offences, sentence period and public interest.

Is there any specific provision pertaining to parole and/or furlough?

  • No specific provision: The Prisons Act, 1894, and the Prisoners Act, 1900, did not contain any specific provision pertaining to parole and/or furlough.
  • State are empowered to make such rules: Section 59 of the Prisons Act empowers States to make rules inter alia “for the shortening of sentences” and “for rewards for good conduct”.

You must know

  • Since “prisons, reformatories” fall in the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, States are well within their reach to legislate on issues related to prisons.

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rules

Parole rules are different for different states and on different case

  • Suspension of sentence in Uttar Pradesh: The Uttar Pradesh rules provide for the ‘suspension of sentence’ (without mentioning the term parole or furlough or leave) by the government generally up to one month. However, the period of suspension may exceed even 12 months with prior approval of the Governor.
  • Maharashtra rules: Maharashtra’s rules permit release of a convict on ‘furlough’ for 21 or 28 days (depending upon the term of sentence), on ‘emergency parole’ for 14 days, and on ‘regular parole’ for 45 to 60 days.
  • Revised rules in Haryana: The recently revised rules of Haryana (April 2022) permit ‘regular parole’ to a convict up to 10 weeks (in two parts), ‘furlough’ for three to four weeks in a calendar year, and ‘emergency parole’ up to four weeks. Ram Rahim is on his regular parole.
  • Rules of leaves and its extension in Tamin Nadu and the Nalini case: Though the Tamil Nadu rules of 1982 permit ‘ordinary leave’ for a period of 21 to 40 days, ‘emergency leave’ is permitted up to 15 days (to be spread over four spells). However, in exceptional circumstances, the government may extend the period of emergency leave. Till recently, Nalini was on extended emergency leave owing to her mother’s illness.
  • Unlike TN, rules in Andhra Pradesh prohibit extension: Surprisingly, the Andhra Pradesh rules specifically prohibit such extension (Nalini extension) on account of the continued illness of a relative of a prisoner. They permit ‘furlough’ and parole/emergency leave up to two weeks, except that the government may extend parole/emergency leave in special circumstances.
  • Odisha: Similarly, Odisha rules permit ‘furlough’ for up to four weeks, ‘parole leave’ up to 30 days and ‘special leave’ up to 12 days.
  • West Bengal: West Bengal provides for releasing a convict on ‘parole’ for a maximum period of one month and up to five days in case of any ‘emergency’.
  • Kerala: Kerala provides for 60 days of ‘ordinary leave’ in four spells, and up to 15 days ‘emergency leave’ at a time.

Provision of ‘Custody parole’

  • Custody parole: Release of a prisoner, who is ineligible for a leave under the police escort for some hours for extreme emergency cases.
  • Custody parole In Haryana: A hardcore convict, who is ineligible for any parole or furlough, may be released for attending the funeral or marriage of a close relative under police escort for a period not exceeding six hours. Haryana has a long list of ‘hardcore’ prisoners who are not entitled to be released except on ‘custody parole’ under certain conditions.
  • In Tamil Nadu: In Tamil Nadu, police escort is given to a prisoner who is released on emergency leave and is dangerous to the community.
  • Kerala: Similarly, in Kerala, prisoners who are not eligible for emergency leave may be granted permission for visit under police escort for a maximum period of 24 hours.
  • States that do not permit such provision: Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala and West Bengal do not permit release of habitual criminals and convicts, who are dangerous to society, under Sections 392 to 402 of the Indian Penal Code.

rules

The rules of set by the states vary in scope and content

  • Furlough is as incentive: While ‘furlough’ is considered as an incentive for good conduct in prison and is counted as a sentence served.
  • Parole: parole or leave is mostly a suspension of sentence. Emergency parole or leave is granted for specified emergencies such as a death, serious illness or marriage in the family. While most States consider only close relatives such as spouse, parents, son, daughter, brother and sister as close family, Kerala has a long list of more than 24 relatives in case of death and 10 in case of marriage.
  • Different circumstances in different states: Though regular parole or leave is granted after serving minimum sentence (varying from one year to four years) in prison, some States include other familial and social obligations such as sowing or harvesting of agricultural crops, essential repair of house, and settling family disputes. In Kerala, a convict becomes eligible for ordinary leave after serving one-third of a year in prison if he is sentenced for one year.
  • Concern raised: Despite the fact that temporary release cannot be availed of as a matter of right, the above provisions demonstrate that each State has its own set of rules which not only vary in scope and content, but may also be flouted to give favours to a few.

Conclusion

  • Without any common legal framework in place to guide the States and check misuse, arbitrariness is likely to creep in, endangering the entire criminal justice system. With ‘prisons’ in the State List, this task is not feasible unless at least half of the States come together to request the Central government to legislate a common law for the country on parole and furlough.

Mains question

Q. What is parole or furlough? The entire criminal justice system in the country is in jeopardy due to lack of uniformity in rules. Discuss.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is a Narco Test?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Narco Test

Mains level: Read the attached story

narco test

A court in Saket, New Delhi, has allowed Delhi Police to conduct a narco test on a psychopath accused of raping and killing his live-in partner.

What is a Narco Test?

  • In a ‘narco’ or narcoanalysis test, a drug called sodium pentothal is injected into the body of the accused.
  • This transports the accused to a hypnotic or sedated state, in which their imagination is neutralised.
  • In this hypnotic state, the accused is understood as being incapable of lying, and is expected to divulge information that is true.
  • Sodium pentothal or sodium thiopental is a fast-acting, short duration anaesthetic, which is used in larger doses to sedate patients during surgery.
  • It belongs to the barbiturate class of drugs that act on the central nervous system as depressants.

History of its use

  • Because the drug is believed to weaken the subject’s resolve to lie, it is sometimes referred to as a “truth serum”.
  • It is said to have been used by intelligence operatives during World War II.

Reasons to use such tests

  • In recent decades, investigating agencies have sought to employ these tests in investigation, which are sometimes seen as being a “softer alternative” to torture or “third degree” to extract the truth from suspects.
  • However, neither method has been proven scientifically to have a 100% success rate, and remain contentious in the medical field as well.

Restrictions on these tests

  • No self-incrimination: The Bench took into consideration international norms on human rights, the right to a fair trial, and the right against self-incrimination under Article 20(3) of the Constitution.
  • Consent of the accused: In ‘Selvi & Ors vs. State of Karnataka & Anr’ (2010), a Supreme Court Bench comprising then CJI ruled that no lie detector tests should be administered “except on the basis of consent of the accused”. The subject’s consent should be recorded before a judicial magistrate, the court said.
  • Legal assistance to such convicts: Those who volunteer must have access to a lawyer, and have the physical, emotional, and legal implications of the test explained to them by police and the lawyer.
  • Guidelines at place: It said that the ‘Guidelines for the Administration of Polygraph Test on an Accused’ published by the National Human Rights Commission in 2000, must be strictly followed.

Can the results of these tests be considered as “confessions”?

  • Not a confession: Because those in a drugged-induced state cannot exercise a choice in answering questions that are put to them.
  • Assumed as evidence: However, any information or material subsequently discovered with the help of such a voluntarily-taken test can be admitted as evidence.
  • Supports investigation: It reveals the location of, say, a physical piece of evidence (which is often something like a murder weapon) in the course of the test.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Improving the Quality of Policing? Centre-State Need to Work Together

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to Police governance

Policing

Context

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) convened a conference in late October in the capital, which saw the participation of the union home minister, a few States Home Ministers and police chiefs. The Delhi conference was a very important occasion aimed at improving the quality of policing in the country through an exchange of ideas.

Sardar Patel’s vision of Police

  • Training and Professionalism: He placed great value on professional policing, one reason why he insisted on an elitist and well-trained corps such as the Indian Police Service (IPS) which worked alongside the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
  • Didn’t abandon the civil services: He was under immense pressure from various quarters, to disband both the Indian Civil Service and IPS, but as a distinguished and astute visionary, he was steadfast in his belief.
  • Nationally accepted standards: Subsequent events proved him right. Despite all their faults, the two all-India services have been a cementing force and have greatly contributed to establishing nationally accepted standards of governance, especially in the area of law and order.

What is the Present status of Policing in India?

  • A case study of Tamil Nadu: The way the Tamil Nadu police have handled the case of a blast in Coimbatore that happened recently, and a possible terror-related plot, also fits in this scene and is relevant to the state of law and order in the State and elsewhere.
  • Delay in serious cases: There is a section of influential public opinion which has accused the Tamil Nadu government of having been slothful and delayed handing over investigation of the incident to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). This has been rebutted by the State Director General of Police (DGP) who said that his force could not abruptly abandon the investigation and had to do the preliminary investigation to facilitate an NIA take-over.
  • Shifting the responsibility: The exchange of barbs by the two sides has been an unfortunate and avoidable development and the truth lies in between. Rather than getting into a slanging match, what is more important is an examination of the standard operating procedures in place, the identification of lacunae and the initiation of corrective measures.
  • West Bengal case: Conflict between the Ministry of Home affairs and State over utilizing talent in the IPS and the sharing of resources available in the States.

Policing

What is the better approach for governance of Police?

  • Collaborative approach: It is a no-brainer that, New Delhi is the senior partner in what is definitely a collaborative relationship. But there have been actions over the decades that have inflicted many deep wounds on public order.
  • Forge a strong camaraderie: These have been situations that have demanded large numbers of well-trained policemen. The Centre has always chipped in with support from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). There have also been other outfits such as the Border Security Force (BSF), the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which have also worked in tandem with the State Police. Therefore, it makes sense that the MHA and State Police stop squabbling but explore how best to forge a strong camaraderie.
  • State must cooperate with Centre: We are also witness to frequent spats between States and the Centre over the use or alleged misuse of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Here again both parties have to share the blame. But the basic point that has been ignored is that crime and bureaucratic corruption have inter-State ramifications and only a national agency can bring in a much-needed and wide perspective.
  • CBI is inevitable for corruption at state level: Insensitive action by a few States to withdraw consent to the CBI to function in a state smack of politics and vindictiveness, which diminishes the fight against public servant graft.

Policing

How union government can improve the Policing?

  • Training and technology: ‘Police’ are a state subject under the distribution of powers laid down in the Constitution of India. But that does not mean the Union government has no say in the matter. Training and technology are two areas where the Centre does greatly contribute to sharpening police ability to combat terrorism and other major public disturbances.
  • The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy: in Hyderabad is a world-class institution that has resources and the professional excellence which are generously available to State police forces.
  • Strong political leadership: Petty squabbling reduces the exchange of ideas and goes to attenuating the police response to difficult situations that require police assistance. This is why we need a political leadership that does not get bogged down in petty differences but promotes a free exchange of talent and resources between New Delhi and the States.

Conclusion

  • With exponential rise if technology nature of crimes has significantly changed. We must impart a modern training with professionalism to our Police. Police subject need to delink from Centre-state politics.

Mains Question

Q. Analyze the state of Police governance in India? What reforms are needed for modern policing in India? How Centre-state can collaborate for better police governance?

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Child Welfare Police Officers a must in all police stations: Home Minister

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CWPO

Mains level: Need for CWPO

cwpo

The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked the States/Union Territories to appoint a Child Welfare Police Officer (CWPO) in every police station to exclusively deal with children, either as victims or perpetrators.

Who is a Child Welfare Police Officer (CWPO)?

  • Police play a pivotal role in the prevention and investigation of child abuse and neglect while helping to make communities safer for children and families.
  • CWPO is stipulated in advisory issued by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, also calls for designating at least one officer, not below the rank of an Assistant Sub-Inspector, as CWPO in every station.

Functions of CWPO

  • To handle cases of both juveniles in conflict with law and children in need have care of protection
  • To function as a watch-dog for providing legal protection against all kinds of cruelty, abuse and exploitation of children and report instances of non-compliance for further legal action
  • To take serious cognizance of adult perpetrators of crimes against children
  • To ensure that the accused are apprehended immediately and booked under the appropriate provisions of the law
  • To ensure that the juvenile or child is provided with immediate medical attention, basic needs and create a child-friendly atmosphere at the time of first contact.

Need for CWPO

  • CWPO ensure that juvenile or child is treated with decency and dignity during investigation, enquiry, search etc.
  • They help upheld right to confidentially and privacy of the juvenile/child.

Back2Basics: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  • The NCPCR is a statutory body established by the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005.
  • The Commission works under the aegis of Ministry of Women and Child Development.
  • The Commission is mandated under section 13 of CPCR Act, 2005 to ensure that all laws and policies are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • As defined by the commission, a child includes persons up to the age of 18 years.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Parole?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parole

Mains level: Prison reforms in India

Recently a self-proclaimed god-man convicted for rape and murder in Haryana has been released on Parole.

What is Parole?

  • Furlough and parole envisage a short-term release from custody, both aimed as reformative steps towards prisoners.
  • Parole is granted to meet a “specific exigency” and cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
  • Both provisions are subject to the circumstances of the prisoner, such as jail behaviour, the gravity of offences, sentence period and public interest.
  • Furlough may be granted without any specific reason after a convict spends a stipulated number of years.
  • It is a matter of right although cannot be claimed as an ‘absolute legal right’.

Is ‘parole an extraordinary move?

  • The state governments often take a compassionate view on applications for parole during festivals of Diwali, Rakshabandhan etc.
  • The legislature/politicians do not have direct powers to grant parole on suo-motu cognizance.

Who can opt for parole and how?

  • The provision of parole is available to convicts found guilty by a court and such a prisoner.
  • The prisoner’s relative/legal aid may submit an application to the prison superintendent.
  • He/she in turn forwards the application to the ‘competent authority’, often under the jurisdiction of district magistrate concerned and comprising prison and police authorities, to sanction release.
  • After due verification of reasons and prisoner’s conduct by the competent authority, an order for grant of release on parole will be issued.
  • In case of rejection of the said application, a convict may approach the High Court.

Duration of Parole

  • The Prison rules state that parole period may be granted for not more than 30 days.
  • The competent authority may exercise its discretion in case of serious illnesses or death of “nearest relative such as mother, father, sister, brother, children, spouse of the prisoner, or in case of natural calamity.”
  • Parole or extension of parole cannot be granted without a report of the police
  • Apart from the remedy to approach a high court for parole in case of a rejected application, a prison can also approach the high court directly in case of an extraordinary emergency.

Try this PYQ from CSP 2021:

Q. With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. When a prisoner makes a sufficient case, parole cannot be out denied to such prisoner because it becomes a matter of his/her right.
  2. State Governments have their own Prisoners Release on Parole Rules.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
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Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

PM calls for ‘One Nation, One Uniform’ for Police

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Police reforms due in India

uniform

Prime Minister has pitched the idea of “One Nation, One Uniform” for Indian police forces.

One Nation One Uniform

  • PM urged that the identity of police across the country should be the same.
  • This suggestion is in line with his broader attempt to introduce a uniform set of policies across the country.

How can this be achieved?

  • Law and order is a State Subject.
  • The Indian Constitution puts police forces under the jurisdiction of state governments, and each of the 28 states have their own police force.
  • Both ‘public order’ and the ‘police’ are placed in List II (State List) of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which deals with the division of powers between the Union and States.
  • In the circumstances, it is unclear how the PM’s suggestion, if the government were to take it up seriously, might be implemented.

Why such move?

Ans. Inconsistencies in attire

  • While police personnel in India are often associated with the colour khaki, their uniforms do differ in varying degrees in different regions.
  • For example:
  1. Kolkata Police wear white uniforms
  2. Puducherry Police constables wear a bright red cap with their khaki uniforms
  3. Delhi Traffic Police personnel wear white and blue uniforms

Changes in police uniforms

Over the years, police departments of various states have made various attempts to reform uniforms for their personnel.

  • Maharashtra: In February 2018, in a bid to prevent colour variation in the uniform of its personnel, the Maharashtra police had decided to provide dope-dyed khaki fabric for its staff. Again, the Maharashtra DGP issued a circular discontinuing the practice of wearing a “tunic uniform” for officers from the rank of Police Sub Inspectors (PSI) to Deputy Superintendent (DySP).
  • Karnataka: In October 2018, the Karnataka Police announced that women personnel would no longer wear khaki saris, rather a khaki shirt and trousers while on duty. This would make it easier for policewomen to do their job and improve their effectiveness in dealing with crime.
  • New Delhi: The Delhi Police had asked the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) to design fresh uniforms, with an immediate focus on clothing that would be more comfortable.

Other such moves

  • In August this year, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers announced that it had implemented the “One Nation One Fertiliser” scheme.
  • The Centre in August 2019 had introduced the “One Nation One Ration Card” scheme.
  • PM has also repeatedly suggested the implementation of “One Nation, One Election”, and adopting a single voter list for all polls.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is ‘general consent’ for CBI?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI general consent

Mains level: Issues with working of CBI

The Maharashtra CM has restored general consent to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate cases in Maharashtra.

General Consent to CBI

  • The CBI is governed by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act.
  • This makes consent of a state government mandatory for conducting an investigation in that state.
  • Generally, the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees.
  • However, 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?

  • There are two kinds of consent: case-specific and general.
  • 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.

Withdrawing General Consent  

  • 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 provisions general consent can be 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 the power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the government can withdraw the general consent to exercise the powers and jurisdiction.

Back2Basics: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • Origins of CBI can be traced back to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) set up in 1941 in order to cases of bribery and corruption in War & Supply Department of India during World War II.
  • The need of a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption was felt even after the end of World War II.
  • So, DSPE (Delhi Special Police Establishment) Act, 1946 was brought that gave legal power of investigating cases to CBI.
  • CBI is not a statutory body as it is not established by an Act of the Parliament.
  • CBI investigates cases related to economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and other high-profile cases.
  • CBI comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • CBI is exempted from Right to Information (RTI) Act similar to the National Investigating Agency (NIA), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), etc.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Private: The future of India is linked to police reforms

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Police reforms

Context

  • The future of India is linked to police reforms. If the country is to progress and emerge as a great power, there is no alternative to radical reforms in the police.
  • September 22, is observed as Police Reforms day since the Supreme Court gave a landmark judgment on police reforms in 2006 on the same.

What is a term Police stands for?

  • Police is a constituted body of uniformed persons empowered by a state who are responsible for keeping law and order intact.
  • Their lawful powers include arrest and the use of force.

What is a Role of Police?

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

What are Issues with police institution in India?

  • Colonial practice: The Police Act of 1861, which governs substantially the functioning of police even today, is a symbol of colonial rule.
  • Cost of internal security on economic growth: Economic development depends on sound law and order and we can have good law and order only if we have professional police. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, violence cost the country 7 per cent of its GDP in 2020.
  • Infiltration of persons of questionable background at power: According to the Association of Democratic Reforms, the percentage of such people in Parliament has been showing a steady upward trend. It was 24 per cent in 2004, 30 per cent in 2009, 34 per cent in 2014 and 43 per cent in the last election held in 2019.This poses a challenge for police to take action against this segment of people and their supporters who have a shady background and who may one day devour the very system that has placed them in power.
  • Lack of Internal security doctrine: Problems are tackled as per the perception of the ruling dispensation at any given point time and therefore police are not able to deal with the internal security challenges as effectively as they should.
  • Lack of confidence of public in police: Most people believe police to be abusive and also believe that police personnel misuse their power in order to bring order to society. This is particularly true of the lower strata of society, who feel that there is one law for the poor and another for the rich and powerful as police under influence of political and financial clout.
  • Increasing complexity of organized crimes: Organised crime has acquired international dimensions. Arms trafficking and drug trafficking do not observe any borders and Cybercrimes are increasing in geometrical progression. 
  •  Poor infrastructure and human resource: The police are not able to deliver partly because of poor infrastructure moreover there is a vacancy of more than 5,00,000 personnel.
  • Poor housing conditions and long working hours: poor housing conditions and long working hours have an adverse impact on police performance.  According to the Status of Policing in India Report, 2019, an average policeman works for 14 hours a day and does not get any weekly off. This takes a heavy toll on his mental and physical health.

What is meant by police reforms?

  • The aim of Police reforms is to enhance efficiency, capability, and adoptability according to the time and transforming culture, values and existing practice of police system.
  • As per the Indian Constitution Police comes under state list.

What can be done to improve efficiency of police in India?

  • Police sensitisation about their role in society: The sensitisation module should aim at bringing about attitudinal change in police — especially pertaining to gender and power relations and police behavior. It is necessary to increase public confidence in the police by upgrading levels of police service delivery as well as by investigating and acting in cases of police misconduct.
  • Increasing accountability: Making them answerable to law and law alone and not to work under pressure of the political and financial clout.
  • Develop infrastructure and fill vacancies: Overall, there is a vacancy of more than 5,00,000 personnel. These must be filled. There is huge scope for improvement in transport, communications and forensics as well
  • Improving hosing conditions: The National Police Commission had recommended 100 per cent family accommodation for all non gazetted police personnel. The satisfaction level today is hardly 31.24 per cent.
  •  Reducing working hours: Long working hours have an adverse impact on police performance. We should have 12-hour shifts straightaway and gradually aim to achieve eight-hour shifts.

Conclusion

  • A new role and new philosophy have to be defined for the police to not only make it a capable and effective body but also one accountable to the law of the land and to the people whom they serve.

Mains Question

Q. If the country is to progress and emerge as a great power, there is no alternative to radical reforms in the police. Discuss.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Private: Explained: Bail for Women

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bails

Mains level: Different bail provisions

An activist recently walked out of a prison, a day after the Supreme Court granted her interim bail in a case of allegedly fabricating evidence related to the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Here we get to know that bail laws in India are not gender neutral. They somewhat favor women due to certain disprivileged social backgrounds.

What is Bail?

  • Bail is the conditional release of a defendant with the promise to appear in court when required.
  • The term also means the security that is deposited in order to secure the release of the accused.
  • In India’s legal world, the term offense has been categorized as bailable offenses and non-bailable under the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Why need Bail?

  • Bail is a fundamental aspect of any criminal justice system.
  • The practice of bail grew out of the need to safeguard the fundamental right to liberty.
  • Liberty is the right of one whose guilt has not yet been proven.

Types of Bail in India

  • Depending upon the sage of the criminal matter, there are commonly three types of bail in India:
  1. Regular bail: Regular bail is generally granted to a person who has been arrested or is in police custody. A bail application can be filed for regular bail under sections 437 and 439 of CrPC.
  2. Interim bail: This type of bail is granted for a short period of time and it is granted before the hearing for the grant of regular bail or anticipatory bail.
  3. Anticipatory bail: Anticipatory bail is granted under section 438 of CrPC either by session court or High Court. An application for the grant of anticipatory bail can be filed by the person who discerns that he may be arrested by the police for a non-bailable offense.

Why in news?

Ans. Favorable treatment for Women

  • During the hearing, the Supreme Court of India has made an oral observation that under Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a woman is entitled to favourable treatment.
  • The provision says that, being a woman is a possible ground for granting bail, even when otherwise it cannot be considered.

What does the bail provision say in favor of Women?

  • Section 437 of the CrPC deals with bail in case of non-bailable offences.
  • It says a person shall not be released on bail if there is reasonable ground to believe that he has committed an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment.
  • However, it also contains exceptions in a provision that says the court may grant bail even in these cases, “if such person is under the age of 16 or is a woman or is sick or infirm”.

Are there other provisions favourable to women accused?

  • There are several provisions in criminal law that give special consideration to women, of any age, when they are victims of offences, including sexual offences, in the way they are treated as witnesses and victims of crimes.
  • There are also some provisions relating to women when they are made an accused, and arrested.
  • For instance, when a police officer requires the attendance of any person who he believes is acquainted with a case under investigation, the person has to appear before the officer (Section 160).
  • However, no woman shall be required to do so at any place other than the place in which she resides.
  • This is understood to mean that the officer has to visit the place of residence to make enquiries.
  • This benefit is also available to boys under 15, men above 65 and any mentally or physically disabled person.
  • In its 84th and 135th Report in 1980 and 1989, the Law Commission suggested that the word ‘place’ is ambiguous, and it would be better to amend it to ‘dwelling place’.

What does the CrPC say on the arrest of a woman?

  • A police officer may arrest a person who has committed a cognisable offence without a judicial order or a warrant (Section 41).
  • If the person does not submit to custody based on the word or action of the police, Section 46 enables the police officer to confine the person physically to effect the arrest.
  • A proviso was introduced in the CrPC in 2009 to the effect that where a woman is to be arrested, only a female police officer may touch the woman’s person, unless circumstances otherwise require.
  • Earlier, through a 2005 amendment, a subsection was added to Section 46 to prohibit the arrest of a woman after sunset or before sunrise.
  • However, in exceptional circumstances, a woman police officer can obtain the prior permission of a judicial magistrate to make the arrest.

What does it say on women who don’t appear in public?

  • The police may seek entry into any premises where they suspect that a person who is required to be arrested is present.
  • In a situation where any such place is an apartment in the occupancy of a female (who is not the person to be arrested) and if the woman is one who, by custom, does not appear in public, the police have to give notice to her so that she may withdraw before they enter it (Proviso to Section 47).
  • It adds that they shall afford her every reasonable facility for withdrawing before they break open and enter the place.
  • In yet another exception, a woman who intends to file a defamation case, but is one who does not appear in public according to custom, can ask someone else to file the complaint on her behalf.

 

Also read:

[Sansad TV] Mudda AapKa: Supreme Court Suggests “Bail Act”

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NAFIS

Mains level: Not Much

The Union Home Minister has inaugurated the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS).

What is NAFIS?

  • NAFIS is developed by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) at the Central Fingerprint Bureau (CFPB) in New Delhi.
  • The project is a country-wide searchable database of crime- and criminal-related fingerprints.
  • The web-based application functions as a central information repository by consolidating fingerprint data from all states and Union Territories.
  • In April this year, Madhya Pradesh became the first state in the country to identify a deceased person through NAFIS.

Utility of NAFIS

  • It enables law enforcement agencies to upload, trace, and retrieve data from the database in real time on a 24×7 basis.
  • It would help in the quick and easy disposal of cases with the help of a centralised fingerprint database.

How does it work?

  • NAFIS assigns a unique 10-digit National Fingerprint Number (NFN) to each person arrested for a crime.
  • This unique ID will be used for the person’s lifetime, and different crimes registered under different FIRs will be linked to the same NFN.
  • The 2020 report states that the ID’s first two digits will be that of the state code in which the person arrested for a crime is registered, followed by a sequence number.
  • By automating the collection, storage, and matching of fingerprints, along with digitizing the records of fingerprint data, NAFIS will provide the much-needed unique identifier for every arrested person.
  • It will be included in the CCTNS (Crime and Criminal Tracking Network & Systems) database as both are connected at the backend.

Is this the first time that such an automation project is being attempted?

  • Upon the recommendations of the National Police Commission in 1986, the Central Fingerprint Bureau first began to automate the fingerprint database.
  • It began with digitizing the existing manual records through India’s first Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFI) in 1992, called Fingerprint Analysis & Criminal Tracing System (FACTS 1.0).
  • The latest iteration, FACTS 5.0, which was upgraded in 2007, was considered to have “outlived its shelf life”, according to a 2018 report by the NCRB and thus needed to be replaced by NAFIS.

Since when has India relied on fingerprinting as a crime-fighting tool?

  • A system of fingerprinting identification first emerged in colonial India, where it was tested before it spread to Europe and beyond.
  • At first, it was used by British colonial officials for administrative rather than criminal purposes.
  • William Herschel, the chief administrator of the Hooghly district of Bengal, from the late-middle 1800s onwards, used fingerprinting to reduce fraud and forgeries.
  • It then aimed to ensure that the correct person was receiving government pensions, signing land transfer deeds, and mortgage bonds.
  • Anthropometry, the measurement of physical features of the body, was used by officials in India but was soon replaced with a system of fingerprints.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Rules for Identifying Criminals now notified

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story

On September 19, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notified the rules governing The Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022. The Act was passed in March by the Parliament.

Why in news?

Rules for Identifying Criminals now notified - Civilsdaily

  • Until rules are notified, an Act cannot be implemented or come into force.
  • The legislation would enable police and central investigating agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples including retina and iris scan of arrested persons.

What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?

Ans. It is about critical measurements of Criminals.

  • This act provides legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for taking measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters.
  • The Minister of Home Affairs has observed that with advancements in forensics, there was a need to recognise more kinds of “measurements” that can be used by law enforcement agencies for investigation.

What is the use of identification details in criminal trials?

  • Measurements and photographs for identification have three main purposes:
  1. To establish the identity of the culprit against the person being arrested
  2. To identify suspected repetition of similar offences by the same person and third
  3. To establish a previous conviction

What was the previous Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 about?

  • Even though the police has powers of arrest, mere arrest does not give Police the right to search a person.
  • The police requires legal sanction to search the person and collect evidence.
  • These legal sanctions are designed so as to maintain a balance between the rights of an individual and the interests of society in prosecution and prevention of offences.
  • The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 became a necessity when the recording of newer forms of evidence such as fingerprints, footprints and measurements started becoming more accurate and reliable.

What was the need to replace this Act?

Ans. Changing nature of Crime

  • Over the years, the need to amend/update the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 has been voiced several times.
  • In 1980, the 87th Report of the Law Commission of India undertook a review of this legislation and recommended several amendments.
  • This was done in the backdrop of the State of UP vs. Ram Babu Misra case, where the Supreme Court had highlighted the need for amending this law.
  • The first set of recommendations laid out the need to amend the Act to expand the scope of measurements to include “palm impressions”, “specimen of signature or writing” and “specimen of voice”.
  • The second set of recommendations raised the need of allowing measurements to be taken for proceedings other than those under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

What are the main highlights and differences in both the legislations?

  • Both provide legal sanction: Like the 1920 Law, the new Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 provides for legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for the collection of measurements.
  • Creating usable database of evidences: The purpose is to create a useable database of these measurements.
  • Notifying designated state agencies: At the State level, each State is required to notify an appropriate agency to collect and preserve this database of measurements.
  • NCRB at centre stage: At the national level, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is the designated agency to manage, process, share and disseminate the records collected at the State level.

What are some of the concerns with the present legislation?

  • Striking a balance: The new legislation has raised some concerns related to the protection of fundamental rights.
  • Unresolved right to Privacy debate: The legislation comes in the backdrop of the right to privacy being recognised as a fundamental right.
  • Notion of physical privacy: A fundamental facet of the right to privacy is protection from the invasion of one’s physical privacy.
  • Justifying necessity: As per the Puttaswamy judgment, there is a need for the measure to be taken in pursuance of a legitimate aim of the state, be backed by the law and be “necessary and proportionate” to the aim being sought to be achieved.

(1) Various tests behind

  • In this case, while the first two tests are satisfied, as:
  1. prevention and investigation of crime” is a legitimate aim of the state
  2. measurements” are being taken under a valid legislation,
  • Satisfaction of the third test of “necessity and proportionality” has been challenged on multiple counts.

(2) A probable police state in making

  • Analysis and measurement of behavioural attributes have raised concerns that data processing may go beyond recording of core “measurements”.
  • That is some of these measurements could be processed for predictive policing.

(3) Includes petty offences

  • The current law allows for “measurements” to be taken if a person has been convicted/arrested for any offence, including petty offences.
  • The necessity of taking measurements of such persons for investigation of offences is unclear, and such discretion is likely to result in abuse of the law at lower levels.
  • This would definitely overburden the systems used for collection and storage of these measurements.

(4) Period of storage of data

  • Given that these records will be stored for 75 years from the time of collection, the law has been criticised as being disproportionate.

(5) Surveillance state

  • Such collection can also result in mass surveillance, with the database under this law being combined with other databases such as those of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).

(6) Promotes self-incrimination

  • Concerns are being raised that the present law violates the right against self-incrimination enshrined in Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India.
  • However, this argument is nebulous since the Supreme Court has already settled this point.
  • In the State of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad, the Supreme Court had conclusively held that “non-communicative” evidence i.e. evidence which does not convey information within the personal knowledge of the accused cannot be understood to be leading to self-incrimination.
  • Therefore, no challenge lies to the law on this ground.

Way forward

  • Extensive pre-legislative consultation is must for any sensitive law as such.
  • Privacy and data protection-related concerns must be addressed in the Rules formulated under the legislation and through model Prison Manuals that States can refer to.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Preventive Detention

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 22

Mains level: Issues with preventive detentions

Preventive detentions in 2021 up by 23.7% compared to year before - The  Hindu

Preventive detentions in 2021 saw a rise by over 23.7% compared with the year before, with over 1.1 lakh people being placed under preventive detention, according to statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

What does NCRB report say on Preventive Detention?

  • Over 24,500 people placed under preventive detention were either in custody or still detained as of 2021-end — the highest since 2017 when the NCRB started recording this data.
  • Over 483 were detentions under the National Security Act, of which almost half (241) were either in custody or still detained as of 2021-end.
  • In 2017, the NCRB’s Crime in India report found that 67,084 persons had been detained as a preventive measure that year.
  • Of these, 48,815 were released between one and six months of their detention and 18,269 were either in custody or still in preventive detention as of the end of the year.

Various provisions invoked for Preventive Detention

  • Among other laws under which the NCRB has recorded data on preventive detentions are the:
  1. Goonda Act (State and Central) (29,306),
  2. Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988 (1,331), and
  3. A category classified as “Other Detention Acts”, under which most of the detentions were registered (79,514).
  • Since 2017, the highest number of persons to be placed under preventive detention has consistently been under the “Other Detention Acts” category.

Concerns over the report

  • The number of persons placed under detention has been increasing since 2017 — to over 98,700 in 2018 and over 1.06 lakh in 2019 — before dipping to 89,405 in 2020 (due to lockdowns).
  • The number of persons placed under preventive detention has seen an increase in 2021.

What is Preventive Detention?

  • Preventive detention means detaining a person so that to prevent that person from commenting on any possible crime.
  • In other words, preventive detention is an action taken by the administration on the grounds of the suspicion that some wrong actions may be done by the person concerned which will be prejudicial to the state.

Preventive Detention in India

A police officer can arrest an individual without orders from a Magistrate and without any warrant if he gets any information that such an individual can commit any offense.

  • Preventive Detention Law, 1950: According to this law any person could be arrested and detained if his freedom would endanger the security of the country, foreign relations, public interests, or otherwise necessary for the country.
  • Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1968: Within the ambit of UAPA law the Indian State could declare any organization illegal and could imprison anyone for interrogation if the said organization or person critiqued/questioned Indian sovereignty territorially.

What is the difference between Preventive Detention and an Arrest?

  • An ‘arrest’ is done when a person is charged with a crime.
  • In the case of preventive detention, a person is detained as he/she is simply restricted from doing something that might deteriorate the law-and-order situation.
  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Rights of an Arrested Person in India

A/c to Article 22(1) and 22(2) of the Indian constitution:

  • A person cannot be arrested and detained without being informed why he is being arrested.
  • A person who is arrested cannot be denied to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. This means that the arrested person has right to hire a legal practitioner to defend himself/ herself.
  • Every person who has been arrested would be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours.
  • The custody of the detained person cannot be beyond the said period by the authority of magistrate.

Exceptions for Preventive Detention

Article 22(3) says that the above safeguards are not available to the following:

  • If the person is at the time being an enemy alien
  • If the person is arrested under certain law made for the purpose of “Preventive Detention”

Constitutional provision

  • It is extraordinary that the framers of the Indian Constitution, who suffered most because of the Preventive Detention Laws, did not hesitate to give Constitutional sanctity.
  • B.R. Ambedkar was of the opinion that the freedom of the individual should not supersede the interests of the state.
  • He had also stated that the independence of the country was in a state of inflancy and in order to save it, preventive detention was essential.

Issues with preventive detention

  • Arbitrariness: The police determinations of whether a person poses a threat are not tested at a trial by leading evidence or examined by legally trained persons.
  • Rights violation: Quiet often, there is no trial (upto 3 months), no periodic review, and no legal assistance for the detained person.
  • Abuse: It does not provide any procedural protections such as to reduce detainees’ vulnerability to torture and discriminatory treatment, and to prevent officials’ misusing preventive detention for subversive activities.
  • Tool for suppression: In the absence of proper safeguards, preventive detention has been misused, particularly against the Dalits and the minorities.

What has the apex court recently rule?

  • Preventive detention is a necessary evil only to prevent public disorder, ruled the Supreme Court in 2021.
  • The State should not arbitrarily resort to “preventive detention” to deal with all sundry “law and order” problems, which could be dealt with by the ordinary laws of the country.
  • Whenever an order under a preventive detention law is challenged, one of the questions the court must ask in deciding its legality is: was the ordinary law of the land sufficient to deal with the situation?
  • If the answer is in the affirmative, the detention order will be illegal.

Upholding the Article 21

  • Preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 (due process of law) read with Article 22 (safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention) and the statute in question, Justice Nariman ruled.
  • The Liberty of a citizen is a most important right won by our forefathers after long, historical, and arduous struggles.

Way forward

  • Having such kind of acts has a restraining influence on the anti-social and subversive elements.
  • India is a large country and many separatist tendencies against the national security and integrity existed and existing and a strict law is required to counter the subversive activities.
  • The number of persons detained in these acts is not a very large and due attention is made before preventive detention.
  • The state should have very effective powers to deal with the acts in which the citizens involve in hostile activities, espionage, coercion, terrorism, etc.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

NCRB releases ‘Crime in India’ Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCRB

Mains level: Crime in India

A new edition of ‘Crime in India’, the annual report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), was released on August 29, for crime-related statistics in 2021.

Why in news?

  • NCRB reports have been a valuable compilation of statistics over the years on offences ranging from crimes against women to economic and financial crimes.
  • It has provided honest and credible sets of crime related data in India.

Crime in India: Key highlights

  • Overall, 2021 saw a 6 per cent decline in the number of crimes registered, as compared to 2020.
  • The crime rate per lakh population declined from 487.8 in 2020 to 445.9 in 2021.
  • However, crime statistics do not always tell the full story, and lower crimes reported in an area do not necessarily mean it is safe.
  • Crimes against women rose 15 per cent in India in 2021 and Delhi is the most unsafe metropolitan city.
  • Rajasthan reported the highest number of rape cases and Maharashtra topped the list when it comes to most suicides.
  • Around 1.73 lakh people died in traffic accidents. Uttar Pradesh saw the highest number of deaths (24,711) in traffic accidents.
  • Jammu and Kashmir registered the most Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) cases under the ‘special and local laws’ in 2021, as per NCRB data.
  • Of the total 814 cases under the UAPA in India, J&K lodged 289 cases last year, followed by Manipur (157), Assam (95), Jharkhand (86) and Uttar Pradesh (83).
  • Jharkhand and Maharashtra filed the highest cases of communal riots last year with 100 and 77 cases respectively.

Who publishes the NCRB report?

  • The NCRB was established in January 1986 with the aim of establishing a body to compile and keep records of data on crime.
  • It functions under the Union Home Ministry.
  • Apart from publishing annual reports, its functions include “Collection, coordination and exchange of information on inter-state and international criminals to the respective states”.
  • NCRB also acts as a “national warehouse” for the fingerprint records of Indian and foreign criminals, and assists in locating interstate criminals through fingerprint search.

How does the NCRB collect information for its report?

  • The NCRB report contains data received from the 36 states and Union Territories across the country.
  • Similar data is furnished for 53 metropolitan cities, or those having a population of more than 10 lakh as per the 2011 census, by respective state-level crime records bureaus.
  • This information is entered by state/UT police at the police station/ district level, and is then validated further at the district level, then the state level, and finally by the NCRB.

Issues with NCRB data

  • By its own admission, the NCRB says there are limitations to its data.
  • Since the publication caters to the ‘Principal Offence Rule’ for classification of crime, the actual count of each crime head may go under-reporting.
  • The Principal Offence Rule states that in a case where multiple offences are registered, only the “most heinous crime”, carrying the most stringent punishment, is considered when counting.
  • For example, ‘Murder with Rape’ is accounted as ‘Murder’, leading to undercounting of the crime of rape.
  • Vacancies or a shortage of police officers at the local level may hinder the collection of data.
  • Also the data record the incidence of registered crime rather than of actual crime.

Antithesis to NCRB data

  • Reported crimes against women in Delhi rose significantly in the aftermath of the 2012 Nirbhaya Gangrape case.
  • This is not because the heinous crimes got trivialized.
  • It may have been a reflection of increased awareness about the need for registering crimes, both among those affected and the police, rather than an actual increase in the incidence of crime against women.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Delhi Police’s use of Facial Recognition Technology

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FRT system

Mains level: Issues with FRT

A Right to Information (RTI) response revealed that the Delhi Police treats matches of above 80% similarity generated by its facial recognition technology (FRT) system as positive results.

Why in news?

  • India has seen the rapid deployment of facial recognition technology (FRT) in recent years, both by the Union and State governments, without putting in place any law to regulate their use.

What is Facial Recognition Technology?

  • Facial recognition is an algorithm-based technology that creates a digital map of the face by identifying and mapping an individual’s facial features, which it then matches against the database to which it has access.
  • It can be used for two purposes:

(A) 1:1 verification of identity

  • Here the facial map is obtained for the purpose of matching it against the person’s photograph on a database to authenticate their identity.
  • Increasingly it is being used to provide access to any benefits or government schemes.

(B) One-to-many identification

  • There is the one-to-many identification of identity wherein the facial map is obtained from a photograph or video and then matched against the entire database to identify the person in the photograph or video.
  • Law enforcement agencies such as the Delhi Police usually procure FRT for 1:n identification.
  • It generates a probability or a match score between the suspect who is to be identified and the available database of identified criminals.
  • A list of possible matches are generated on the basis of their likelihood to be the correct match with corresponding match scores.
  • However, ultimately it is a human analyst who selects the final probable match from the list of matches generated by FRT.

Why is the Delhi Police using facial recognition technology?

  • The Delhi Police first obtained FRT for the purpose of tracing and identifying missing children.
  • The procurement was authorised under the 2018 direction of the Delhi High Court in Sadhan Haldar vs. NCT of Delhi.

Issues with FRT use

  • The use of FRT presents two issues:
  1. Issues related to misidentification due to inaccuracy of the technology and
  2. Issues related to mass surveillance due to misuse of the technology
  • Extensive research into the technology has revealed that its accuracy rates fall starkly based on race and gender.
  • This can result in a false positive rate, where a person is misidentified as someone else, or a false negative where a person is not verified as themselves.
  • Cases of a false positive result can lead to bias against the individual who has been misidentified.
  • On the other hand, cases of false negative results can lead to exclusion of the individual from accessing essential schemes. Ex. Failure of biometric based authentication under Aadhaar for an 90 YO person.

Authority to Delhi Police

  • The Delhi Police is matching the photographs/videos against photographs collected under Section three and four of the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.
  • This provision has now been replaced by the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022.
  • This Act allows for wider categories of data to be collected from a wider section of people, i.e., “convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters”.

Why discuss this?

  • At present, India does NOT have a data protection law or a FRT specific regulation to protect against misuse.
  • In such a legal vacuum, there are no safeguards to ensure that authorities use FRT only for the purposes that they have been authorised to, as is the case with the Delhi Police.
  • FRT can enable the constant surveillance of an individual resulting in the violation of their fundamental right to privacy.
  • Yet again the nation-security narrative comes into picture which cannot be ignored.
  • It is feared that the Act will lead to overbroad collection of personal data in violation of internationally recognised best practices for the collection and processing of data.
  • This revelation raises multiple concerns as the use of facial recognition can lead to wrongful arrests and mass surveillance resulting in privacy violations (if used for propaganda politics).

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Police reforms in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Malimath Committee

Mains level: Police reforms due in India

Context

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

Role of Police

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

Issues with police institution

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

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

Steps taken till now

  • Establishment of a Central Police Committee:

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

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

Security Commissions to advise them on matters relating to:

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

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

(iii) Budgetary allotments to State Police Forces.

  • Enactment of a Model Police Act:

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

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

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

Renders impartial service to the community.

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

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

Key recommendations :

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

Some suggestions for better policing:

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

Conclusion

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

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

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022

Mains level: Read the attached story

While the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 was enacted earlier this year, the Ministry of Home Affairs notified it to come into effect from August 4, 2022. It also repeals the existing Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920.

What is the Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022?

  • This act provides legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for “taking measurements of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation of criminal matters”.
  • The Minister of Home Affairs has observed that with advancements in forensics, there was a need to recognise more kinds of “measurements” that can be used by law enforcement agencies for investigation.

What is the use of identification details in criminal trials?

  • Measurements and photographs for identification have three main purposes:
  1. To establish the identity of the culprit against the person being arrested
  2. To identify suspected repetition of similar offences by the same person and third
  3. To establish a previous conviction

What was the previous Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920?

  • Even though the police has powers of arrest, mere arrest does not give Police the right to search a person.
  • The police requires legal sanction to search the person and collect evidence.
  • These legal sanctions are designed so as to maintain a balance between the rights of an individual and the interests of society in prosecution and prevention of offences.
  • The Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 became a necessity when the recording of newer forms of evidence such as fingerprints, footprints and measurements started becoming more accurate and reliable.

What was the need to replace this Act?

  • Over the years, the need to amend/update the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920 has been voiced several times.
  • In 1980, the 87th Report of the Law Commission of India undertook a review of this legislation and recommended several amendments.
  • This was done in the backdrop of the State of UP vs Ram Babu Misra case, where the Supreme Court had highlighted the need for amending this law.
  • The first set of recommendations laid out the need to amend the Act to expand the scope of measurements to include “palm impressions”, “specimen of signature or writing” and “specimen of voice”.
  • The second set of recommendations raised the need of allowing measurements to be taken for proceedings other than those under the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

What are the main highlights and differences in both the legislations?

  • Like the Identification of Prisoners Act, 1920, the new Criminal Procedure (Identification) Act, 2022 provides for legal sanction to law enforcement agencies for the collection of measurements.
  • The purpose is to create a useable database of these measurements.
  • At the State level, each State is required to notify an appropriate agency to collect and preserve this database of measurements.
  • At the national level, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) is the designated agency to manage, process, share and disseminate the records collected at the State level.

What are some of the concerns with the present legislation?

  • The new legislation has raised some concerns related to the protection of fundamental rights.
  • The legislation comes in the backdrop of the right to privacy being recognised as a fundamental right.
  • A fundamental facet of the right to privacy is protection from the invasion of one’s physical privacy.
  • As per the Puttaswamy judgment, there is a need for the measure to be taken in pursuance of a legitimate aim of the state, be backed by the law and be “necessary and proportionate” to the aim being sought to be achieved.

(1) Various tests behind

  • In this case, while the first two tests are satisfied, as:
  1. prevention and investigation of crime” is a legitimate aim of the state
  2. measurements” are being taken under a valid legislation,
  • Satisfaction of the third test of “necessity and proportionality” has been challenged on multiple counts.

(2) A probable police state in making

  • Analysis and measurement of behavioural attributes have raised concerns that data processing may go beyond recording of core “measurements”.
  • That is some of these measurements could be processed for predictive policing.

(3) Includes petty offences

  • The current law allows for “measurements” to be taken if a person has been convicted/arrested for any offence, including petty offences.
  • The necessity of taking measurements of such persons for investigation of offences is unclear, and such discretion is likely to result in abuse of the law at lower levels.
  • This would definitely overburden the systems used for collection and storage of these measurements.

(4) Period of storage of data

  • Given that these records will be stored for 75 years from the time of collection, the law has been criticised as being disproportionate.

(5) Surveillance state

  • Such collection can also result in mass surveillance, with the database under this law being combined with other databases such as those of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS).

(6) Promotes self-incrimination

  • Concerns are being raised that the present law violates the right against self-incrimination enshrined in Article 20(3) of the Constitution of India.
  • However, this argument is nebulous since the Supreme Court has already settled this point.
  • In the State of Bombay vs Kathi Kalu Oghad, the Supreme Court had conclusively held that “non-communicative” evidence i.e. evidence which does not convey information within the personal knowledge of the accused cannot be understood to be leading to self-incrimination.
  • Therefore, no challenge lies to the law on this ground.

Way forward

  • Extensive pre-legislative consultation is must for any sensitive law as such.
  • Privacy and data protection-related concerns must be addressed in the Rules formulated under the legislation and through model Prison Manuals that States can refer to.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Custodial deaths

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2: Custodial deaths and technology

Context

The recent spate of custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu has yet again highlighted the methods used by the police during interrogation.

Custodial deaths in India

  • It is not uncommon knowledge that the police, when they grow increasingly frustrated with the trajectory of their interrogation, sometimes resort to torture and violence which could lead to the death of the suspect.
  • Custodial deaths are common despite enormous time and money being spent on training police personnel to embrace scientific methods of investigation.
  • This is because police personnel are humans from different backgrounds and with different perspectives.

Use of technology by law enforcement agencies

  • There is no doubt that technology can help avert police custodial deaths. For example, body cameras could hold officers liable.
  • Deception detection tests (DDTs), which deploy technologies such as polygraph, narco-analysis and brain mapping, could be valuable in learning information that is known only to a criminal regarding a crime.
  • Among the DDTs, the Brain Fingerprinting System (BFS) is an innovative technology that several police forces contemplate adding to their investigative tools.
  • The technique helps investigative agencies uncover clues in complicated cases.
  • With informed consent, however, any information or material discovered during the BFS tests can be part of the evidence.
  • Police departments are increasingly using robots for surveillance and bomb detection.
  • Many departments now want robotic interrogators for interrogating suspects.
  • Use of robots: Police departments are increasingly using robots for surveillance and bomb detection.
  • Use of robots for interrogation: Many departments now want robotic interrogators for interrogating suspects.
  • Many experts today believe that robots can meet or exceed the capabilities of the human interrogator, partially because humans are inclined to respond to robots in ways that they do to humans.
  • Robots equipped with AI and sensor technology can build a rapport with the suspects, utilise persuasive techniques like flattery, shame and coercion, and strategically use body language.
  • Use of AI/ML: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are emerging as tool of interrogations. AI can detect human emotions and predict behaviour.
  • Therefore, these are also options.
  • ML can in real-time alert superiors when police are meting out inhumane treatment to suspects.

Issues with the use of technologies

  • Informed consent: In 2010, the Supreme Court, in Selvi v. State of Karnataka, rendered the BFS evidence inadmissible.
  • The court observed that the state could not perform narco analysis, polygraph, and brain-mapping tests on any individual without their consent.
  • High cost of technology: As the BFS is high-end technology, it is expensive and unavailable in several States.
  • There is a lot of concern about AI or robot interrogations, both legally and ethically.
  • Risk of bias: There exists the risk of bias, the peril of automated interrogation tactics, the threat of ML algorithms targeting individuals and communities, and the hazard of its misuse for surveillance.

Way forward

  • Multi-pronged strategy: What we need is the formulation of a multi-pronged strategy by the decision-makers encompassing legal enactments, technology, accountability, training and community relations.
  • Onus of proof on police: The Law Commission of India’s proposition in 2003 to change the Evidence Act to place the onus of proof on the police for not having tortured suspects is important in this regard.
  • Strict implementation of D.K. Basu case guidelines: Besides, stringent action must be taken against personnel who breach the commandments issued by the apex court in D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1997).
  • Law against custodial torture: The draft bill on the Prevention of Torture, 2017, which has not seen the day, needs to be revived.

Conclusion

While the technology available to the police and law-enforcement agencies is constantly improving, it is a restricted tool that can’t eradicate custodial deaths. While it might provide comfort and transparency, it can never address the underlying issues that lead to these situations.

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Back2Basics:  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.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

New norms for Sentence Remission

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various types of Pardons

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Union Home Ministry issued a set of guidelines to the States and the Union Territories on the grant of special remission to prisoners to commemorate the 75th year of Independence.

What is the news?

  • The decision comes as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations.
  • The special remission would be granted to a certain category of prisoners, and they would be released in three phases.

What is Remission?

  • The suspension is the stay or postponement of the execution of the sentence.
  • In remission, the duration of the sentence is reduced, without changing the nature of the sentence.
  • In remission, the nature of the sentence is remained untouched, while the duration is reduced i.e. the rest of the sentence need not be undergone.
  • The effect of the remission is that the prisoner is given a certain date on which he shall be released and the eyes of the law he would be a free man.
  • However, in case of breach of any of the condition of remission, it will be cancelled and the offender has to serve the entire term for which he was originally sentenced.

Constitutional provisions for Remission

  • ‘Prisons’ is a State subject under the State List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Indian laws provide pardoning power sourcing from statuary and constitutional authorities.
  • By virtue of Article 72 and 161 of the Constitution of India, the President and Governor can grant pardon, to suspend, remit or commute a sentences passed by the courts.

What are the new norms?

The prisoners who would qualify for premature release under the scheme are:

  • Women and transgender convicts of ages 50 and above
  • Male convicts of 60 and above who have completed 50% of their total sentence period without counting the period of general remission earned
  • Physically challenged or disabled convicts with 70% disability and more who have completed 50% of their total sentence period
  • Terminally ill convicts
  • Convicted prisoners who have completed two-thirds (66%) of their total sentence
  • Poor or indigent prisoners who have completed their sentence but are still in jail due to non-payment of fine imposed on them by waiving off the fine
  • Persons who committed an offence at a young age (18-21) and with no other criminal involvement or case against them and who have completed 50% of their sentence period would also be eligible for the remission

Exceptions to these norms

Following persons would not be eligible for the grant of special remission:

  • Persons convicted with death sentence or where death sentence has been commuted to life imprisonment or persons convicted for an offence for which punishment of death has been specified as one of the punishments
  • Persons convicted with sentence of life imprisonment
  • Convicts involved in terrorist activities or persons convicted under the Terrorist and Disruptive (Prevention) Act, 1985, Prevention of Terrorist Act, 2002, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, Explosives Act, 1908, National Security Act, 1982, Official Secrets Act, 1923, and Anti-Hijacking Act, 2016

Back2Basics: Pardoning powers in India

  • Under the Constitution of India (Article 72), the President of India can grant a pardon or reduce the sentence of a convicted person, particularly in cases involving capital punishment.
  • A similar and parallel power vests in the governors of each state under Article 161.
  1. President
  1. Article 72 says that the president shall have the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence.
  2. The pardoning powers of the Indian President are elucidated in Art 72 of the Indian Constitution. There are five different types of pardoning which are mandated by law.
  • Pardon: means completely absolving the person of the crime and letting him go free. The pardoned criminal will be like a normal citizen.
  • Commutation: means changing the type of punishment given to the guilty into a less harsh one, for example, a death penalty commuted to a life sentence.
  • Reprieve: means a delay allowed in the execution of a sentence, usually a death sentence, for a guilty person to allow him some time to apply for Presidential Pardon or some other legal remedy to prove his innocence or successful rehabilitation.
  • Respite: means reducing the quantum or degree of the punishment to a criminal in view of some special circumstances, like pregnancy, mental condition etc.
  • Remission: means changing the quantum of the punishment without changing its nature, for example reducing twenty-year rigorous imprisonment to ten years.

Cases as specified by art. 72

  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence is by a court-martial;
  • in all cases where the punishment or sentence is for an offence against any law relating to a matter to which the executive power of the Union extends;
  • in all cases where the sentence is a sentence of death.
  1. Governor
  • Similarly, as per article 161: Governor of a State has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, respites or remissions of punishment or to suspend, remit or commute the sentence of any person convicted of any offence against any law.
  • It must be relating to a matter to which the executive power of the state extends.
  • Please note that President can grant pardon to a person awarded death sentence. But a governor of a state does not enjoy this power.

Nature of the Pardoning Power

  • The question is whether this power to grant pardon is absolute or this power of pardon shall be exercised by the President on the advice of Council of Ministers.
  • The pardoning power of the president is not absolute. It is governed by the advice of the Council of Ministers.
  • This has not been discussed by the constitution but is the practical truth.
  • Further, the constitution does not provide for any mechanism to question the legality of decisions of President or governors exercising mercy jurisdiction.
  • But the SC in Epuru Sudhakar case has given a small window for judicial review of the pardon powers of President and governors for the purpose of ruling out any arbitrariness.
  • The court has earlier held that court has retained the power of judicial review even on a matter which has been vested by the Constitution solely in the Executive.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NATGRID

Mains level: Not Much

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has curtailed the tenure of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) and moved him to the Border Security Force (BSF).

What is NATGRID?

  • NATGRID is an intelligence-sharing network that collates data from the standalone databases of the various agencies and ministries of the Indian government.
  • It is a counter terrorism measure that collects and collates a host of information from government databases including tax and bank account details, credit/debit card transactions, visa and immigration records and itineraries of rail and air travel.
  • It will also have access to the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), a database that links crime information, including First Information Reports, across 14,000 police stations in India.
  • As of 2019, NATGRID is headed by an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Ashish Gupta.

Its establishment

  • The 26/11 terrorist siege in Mumbai back in 2008 exposed the deficiency that security agencies had no mechanism to look for vital information on a real-time basis.

Access to NATGRID

  • Prominent federal agencies of the country have been authorized to access the NATGRID database.
  • They are the:
  1. Central Bureau of Investigation
  2. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence,
  3. Enforcement Directorate
  4. Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs
  5. Central Board of Direct Taxes (for the Income Tax Department)
  6. Cabinet Secretariat
  7. Intelligence Bureau
  8. Directorate General of GST Intelligence
  9. Narcotics Control Bureau
  10. Financial Intelligence Unit, and
  11. National Investigation Agency

Future prospects

  • According to the first phase plan, 10 user agencies and 21 service providers will be connected with the NATGRID, while in later phases, about 950 additional organizations will be brought on board.
  • In the following years, more than 1,000 organizations will be further integrated into the NATGRID.
  • These data sources include records related to immigration entry and exit, banking and financial transactions, and telecommunications.

 

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What are Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs)

Mains level: Prevention of juvenile crimes

The CBI is in the process of sending requests to several countries seeking information under the MLATs about those involved in the online sexual abuse of minors and circulation of child pornographic material on social media platforms.

What are MLATs?

  • The MLATs in criminal matters are the bilateral treaties entered between the countries for providing international cooperation and assistance.
  • These agreements allow for the exchange of evidence and information in criminal and related matters between the signing countries.

Benefits of Treaty

  • It enhances the effectiveness of participating countries in the investigation and prosecution of crime, through cooperation and mutual legal assistance.
  • It will provide a broad legal framework for tracing, restrain and confiscation of proceeds and instruments of crime as well as the funds meant to finance terrorist acts.
  • It will be instrumental in gaining better inputs and insights in the modus operandi of organized criminals and terrorists.
  • These in turn can be used to fine-tune policy decisions in the field of internal security.

Enforcing MLATs in India

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is the nodal Ministry and the Central authority for seeking and providing mutual legal assistance in criminal law matters.
  • The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) may be involved in this process when such requests are routed through diplomatic channels by these Ministries.
  • Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) speaks of reciprocal arrangements to be made by the Centre with the Foreign Governments

 

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Criminal justice system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Criminal justice system

Context

The key to an improved criminal justice system is quality forensic labs and well-trained staff, not more legislation and harsher punishments.

About forensic science

  • Forensic science is the application of scientific perspectives and techniques to the legal process, including investigations and courtroom protocol.
  • It is the use of scientific data and procedures specifically for the legal system.
  • There is rigorous procedure involved, including controlled conditions, reliable data collection and the attempt to disprove hypotheses.
  • Methodologies like the autopsy procedures, fingerprinting, testing and matching for poisons, blood spatter analysis, matching guns to bullets fired (ballistics), voice sample matches, handwriting assessments and DNA analysis are all facets of forensic science.

 Inadequate state forensic facilities

  • We have a woefully inadequate number of forensic science laboratories (FSL).
  • There are seven central forensic laboratories in India at Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Guwahati, Bhopal and Pune.
  • Six of these laboratories, barring Delhi, are under the control of the Directorate of Forensic Science Services (DFSS), and its mission is to render high quality and credible forensic services to the justice delivery system.
  • A National Forensic Sciences University was established in Gandhinagar, Gujarat in 2020.
  • The existing National Institute of Criminology and Forensic Science in Delhi has been integrated into this new university.
  • There are 32 state FSLs and about 529 mobile FSL units, of which Delhi has one state FSL and six mobile units.
  • The DNA tests discovered in 1985 are used to identify individuals involved in alleged crimes.
  • In 2017, The Hindu reported that while the United Kingdom completes DNA testing on over 60,000 crimes annually, India with over 13 times the population completes such tests on less than 7,500 cases.
  • The average pendency at each lab is huge.
  • In all states, there were over 50 per cent vacancies in personnel at their facilities.

Way forward

  • More investment: We certainly need more investment in the establishment of FSL laboratories, the training and appointment of personnel adept at forensic methodologies and reforms within our police to establish a trained and skilled detective cadre tasked with solving complex and heinous crimes.
  • Quality training and accreditation: There is a desperate need for good quality training facilities, standards of accreditation and continuous education programmes for our forensic experts.

Conclusion

It is not more legislation and harsher punishments that will solve crimes, but well-trained forensic staff plying their craft in good quality laboratories that will aid our criminal justice system.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What are Look Out Circulars (LOCs)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Look Out Circular

Mains level: National security imperative

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that a Look Out Circular (LOC), which prevents one from travelling abroad, must be supplied to the person at the time of being stopped at the airport and that the reasons should be communicated to the affected party.

What is a Look Out Circular?

  • It is a notice to stop any individual wanted by the police, investigating agency or even a bank from leaving or entering the country through designated land, air and sea ports.
  • Immigration is tasked to stop any such individual against whom such a notice exists from leaving or entering the country.
  • There are 86 immigration check posts across the country.

Who can issue LOCs?

  • A large number of agencies which includes the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Enforcement Directorate, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Income Tax, State police and intelligence agencies are authorised to generate LOCs.
  • The officer should not be below the rank of a district magistrate or superintendent of police or a deputy secretary in the Union Government.

What are the details required to generate an LOC and who issues it?

  • According to a 2010 official memorandum of the Ministry, details such as First Information Report (FIR) number, court case number are to be mandatorily provided with name, passport number and other details.
  • The BOI under the MHA is only the executing agency.
  • They generate LOCs based on requests by different agencies.
  • Since immigration posts are manned by the BOI officials they are the first responders to execute LOCs by stopping or detaining or informing about an individual to the issuing agency.
  • The LOCs can be modified; deleted or withdrawn only at the request of the originator.
  • Further, the legal liability of the action taken by immigration authorities in pursuance of LOC rests with the originating agency.

How are banks authorized?

  • After several businessmen including liquor baron Vijay Mallya, businessmen Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi fled the country after defaulting on loans, the MHA in 2018 brought changes to the 2010 guidelines.
  • It authorised the chairman, managing director and chief executives of all public sector banks to generate LOCs against persons who could be detrimental to economic interests of the country.

Is there any other clause under which any individual can be stopped?

  • The 2010 Ministry guidelines give sweeping powers to police and intelligence agencies to generate LOCs in “exceptional cases” without keying in complete parameters or case details.
  • This was against suspects, terrorists, anti-national elements, etc. in larger national interest.
  • After the special status of J&K under Article 370 was abrogated in 2019, LOCs were opened against several politicians, human rights activists, journalists and social activists to bar them from flying out of the country.
  • The number of persons and the crime for which they have been placed under the list is unknown.

Are individuals entitled to any remedial measures?

  • Many citizens have moved courts to get the LOC quashed.
  • As per norms, an LOC will stay valid for a maximum period of 12 months and if there is no fresh request from the agency then it will not be automatically revived.
  • The MHA has asserted that LOCs cannot be shown to the subject at the time of detention nor can any prior intimation be provided.
  • The Ministry recently informed the Punjab and Haryana HC that the LOC guidelines are a secret document and the same cannot be shared with the ‘accused’ or any unauthorised stakeholder.
  • It cannot be provided or shown to the subject at the time of detention by the BOI since it defeats the purpose of LOC and no accused or subject of LOC can be provided any opportunity of hearing before the issuance of the LOC.

Precedence set by the Judiciary

  • In January this year, Delhi HC quashed an LOC against a Delhi businessman generated at the instance of the Income Tax department.
  • The court said no proceedings under any penal law had been initiated against the petitioner” and the LOC was “wholly unsustainable.”
  • It said that there cannot be any unfettered control or restriction on the right to travel and that it was part of the fundamental rights.
  • Delhi HC has also asked the Director of the CBI to tender a written apology.

 

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CBI should have a strong leader with a distinct belief in the law and ethics

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Challenges facing CBI

Context

The Chief Justice of India (CJI), Justice N.V. Ramana, while delivering the annual (and the 19th edition) D.P. Kohli Memorial Talk minced no words in condemning the utter subordination of agencies to the executive and its disastrous consequences for the cause of justice.

Key takeaways

  • Resisting the pressure: The CJI called upon investigators to stand up to unethical pressures in order not to betray the trust reposed in them by the public.
  • Strong court: We need a strong Supreme Court and equally strong High Courts to keep our investigators on the straight and narrow path.
  •  Fixed tenure: Earlier, CBI Directors were changed at will.
  •  Mandatory tenure was meant to insulate the CBI Director from the caprice of the executive.
  • This process has since been expanded to include the CJI in the selection panel.
  • Strong leadership: The CBI now has some of the brightest Indian Police Service officers in its higher echelons.
  • However, it is not enough if the middle-rung supervisors alone are straightforward.

Should there be an umbrella organisation?

  • The CJI had proposed an umbrella organisation that will oversee all investigating agencies.
  • This idea was meant to avoid having multiple agencies looking into the same set of allegations.
  • Apart from its impracticality, such a novel body could generate its own problems — of turf wars and ego clashes.

Way forward

  • There is a need to focus on weeding out the dishonest among officers and rewarding those who have shown and proven themselves to be honest and professionally innovative.

Conclusion

There needs to be a strong and virtuous leader who will not only be honest but also stick his neck out to protect his deputies if and when confronted by an unscrupulous political heavyweight.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Building faith in India’s investigative agencies

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI

Mains level: Paper 2- Reforms in investigative bodies

Context

The image of the institution of police is regrettably tarnished by allegations of corruption, police excesses, lack of impartiality and close nexus with the political class.

Police and investigation agencies need social legitimacy

  • The police and investigative agencies may have de-facto legitimacy, but as institutions, they are yet to gain social legitimacy.
  • Police should work impartially and focus on crime prevention. They should also work in cooperation with the public to ensure law and order.
  • The CBI possessed immense trust of the public in its initial phase.
  • But with the passage of time, like every other institution of repute, the CBI has also come under deep public scrutiny.
  • The need of the hour is to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust.

Issues affecting the system and causing delay in trial

  • Lack of infrastructure, lack of sufficient manpower, inhuman conditions, especially at the lowest rung, lack of modern equipment, questionable methods of procuring evidence, officers failing to abide by the rule book and the lack of accountability of erring officers.
  • Then there are certain issues that lead to delays in trials.
  • They are: Lack of public prosecutors and standing counsels, seeking adjournments, arraying hundreds of witnesses and filing voluminous documents in pending trials, undue imprisonment of undertrials, change in priorities with the change in the political executive, cherry-picking of the evidence, and repeated transfers of officers leading to a change in the direction of the investigation.

Way forward

  • Break the nexus with political executive: The first step to reclaim social legitimacy and public trust.is to break the nexus with the political executive.
  • Reform of the police system is long overdue in our country.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs has itself recognised the glaring need for the same in the “Status Note on Police Reforms in India”. 
  • Comprehensive law: Our investigative agencies still do not have the benefit of being guided by a comprehensive law.
  • Independent and autonomous investigative agency: The need of the hour is the creation of an independent and autonomous investigative agency.
  • Umbrella organisation: There is an immediate requirement for the creation of an independent umbrella institution, so as to bring various agencies like the CBI, SFIO, and ED under one roof.
  • This body is required to be created under a statute, clearly defining its powers, functions and jurisdictions.
  • Such a law will also lead to much-needed legislative oversight.
  • Separation of prosecution and investigation: One additional safeguard that needs to be built into the scheme, is to have separate and autonomous wings for prosecution and investigation, in order to ensure total independence.
  • Annual audit of performance: A provision in the proposed law for an annual audit of the performance of the institution by the appointing committee will be a reasonable check and balance.
  • Strengthening state investigative agencies: There is no reason why state investigative agencies, which handle most of the investigations, cannot enjoy the same level of credibility as that of the national agency.
  • The proposed Central law for the umbrella investigative body can be suitably replicated by the states.
  • Ensure women’s representation: An issue that needs addressing at this stage is the representation of women in the criminal justice system.
  • Often, women feel deterred in reporting certain offences due to a lack of representation.
  • Relations with community: Relations between the community and police also need to be fixed.
  • This is only possible if police training includes sensitisation workshops and interactions to inspire public confidence.

Consider the question “The police and investigative agencies may have de-facto legitimacy, but as institutions, they are yet to gain social legitimacy. In the context of this, examine the challenges faced by the police and the investigative agencies in India and suggest ways to help them gain social legitimacy.”

Conclusion

It is imperative for the police and the public to work together to create a safe society. Ultimately the police must remember that their allegiance must be to the Constitution and the rule of law and not to any person.

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Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022

Mains level: Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill, 2022

The bill that would allow the police and prison authorities to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples, including retina and iris scans, was introduced in the Lok Sabha.

Criminal Procedure (Identification) Bill

  • It authorises law enforcement agencies to collect, store and analyse physical and biological samples of convicts and other persons for the purposes of identification and investigation in criminal matters.
  • It seeks to repeal the Identification of Prisoners Act 1920 which provided for the collection of only fingerprints and footprints.
  • The said Act, in its present form, provides access to a limited category of persons whose body measurements can be taken.
  • As per the Bill, any state government OR Union Territory administration may notify an appropriate agency to collect, preserve and share the measurements of a person of interest in their respective jurisdictions.

Why need such law?

  • The world has undergone technological and scientific changes, crime and its trend have increased.
  • Advanced countries across the globe are relying on new “measurement” techniques for reliable results.
  • It was felt necessary to expand the “ambit of persons” whose measurements can be taken as this will help investigating agencies gather sufficient legally admissible evidence and establish the crime of the accused person.
  • The Bill will not only help our investigation agencies but also increase prosecution.
  • There is also a chance of an increase in conviction rates in courts through this.

Key features of the Bill

The Bill seeks to:

  • Define “measurements”: To include finger impressions, palm-print and foot-print impressions, photographs, iris and retina scan, physical, biological samples and their analysis, etc.;
  • Empower the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB): To collect, store and preserve the record of measurements and for sharing, dissemination, destruction and disposal of records;
  • Empower a Magistrate: To direct any person to give measurements; a Magistrate can also direct law enforcement officials to collect fingerprints, footprint impressions and photographs in the case of a specified category of convicted and non-convicted persons;
  • Empower police or prison officers: To take measurements of any person who resists or refuses to give measurements
  • Authorises police to record signatures, handwriting or other behavioural attributes: Referred to in section 53 or section 53A of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for the purposes of analysis.

Notable feature: Maintenance of Record

  • The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) will be the repository of physical and biological samples, signature and handwriting data that can be preserved for at least 75 years.
  • The record of these measurements will be retained in digital or electronic form for a period of seventy-five years from the date of collection.
  • The court or Magistrate, for reasons to be recorded in writing, can direct agencies to maintain the records.
  • The records are to be destroyed in the case of any person who has not been previously convicted of an offence punishable under any law with imprisonment for any term.

Refusal to Comply

  • Resistance to or refusal to allow the taking of measurements under this Act shall be deemed to be an offence under section 186 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC);
  • No suit or any other proceeding shall lie against any person for anything done, or intended to be done in good faith under this Act or any rule made thereunder;
  • Central government or state government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Act;
  • Manner of collection, storing, preservation of measurements and sharing, dissemination, destruction and disposal of records under sub-section (1) of section 4;

Issues with the Bill

  • Un-constitutionality: The proposed law will be debated against Article 20(3) of the Constitution, which is a fundamental right that guarantees the right against self-incrimination.
  • Violation of Article 21: The Bill also seeks to apply these provisions to persons held under any preventive detention law.
  • Legislative competence of Centre: The Bill was beyond the legislative competence of Parliament as it violated fundamental rights of citizens, including the right to privacy.
  • Contentious provisions: The Bill proposes to collect samples even from protesters engaged in political protests.
  • Lack of clarity: Several provisions are not defined in the Bill itself.. For instance, the statement of objects says it provides for collection of measurements for “convicts and other persons” but the expression “other persons” is not defined.
  • Other: While the jurisprudence around the right to be forgotten is still in an early stage in India, the Puttaswamy judgment discusses it as a facet of the fundamental right to privacy.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

How does the CBI take up cases?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI

Mains level: Issues with CBI

The Calcutta High Court has ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the killings in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, where eight persons were burnt alive.

About CBI

  • The Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Delhi Special Police Establishment, a Central Government Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
  • It then aimed to investigate bribery and corruption in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India.
  • It then had its headquarters in Lahore.
  • After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate bribery and corruption by central-government employees.
  • The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated in 1963.

Mandate of the CBI

  • The CBI is the main investigating agency of the GoI.
  • It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • Its important role is to prevent corruption and maintain integrity in administration.
  • It works under the supervision of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) in matters pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • The CBI is also India’s official representative with the INTERPOL.

Cases to investigate

  • Cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws
  • Crimes of a serious nature that have national and international ramifications
  • Coordination with the activities of the various state police forces and anti-corruption agencies.
  • It can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.

How does the CBI take up cases?

  • Unlike the NIA, CBI cannot take suo motu cognizance of a case in a state — whether in a matter of corruption involving government officials of the Centre and PSU staff, or an incident of violent crime.
  • In order to take up corruption cases involving central government staff, it either needs general consent (see last question) of the state government, or specific consent on a case-to-case basis.
  • For all other cases, whether involving corruption in the state government or an incident of crime, the state has to request an investigation by the CBI, and the Centre has to agree to the same.
  • In case the state does not make such a request, the CBI can take over a case based on the orders of the High Court concerned or the Supreme Court.

Can the CBI decline to take up a case for investigation?

  • After a state makes a request for an inquiry by the CBI, the Centre seeks the opinion of the agency.
  • If the CBI feels that it is not worthwhile for it to expend time and energy on the case, it may decline to take it up.
  • In the past, the CBI has refused to take over cases citing lack of enough personnel to investigate, and saying it is overburdened.

What is the CBI’s workload currently?

  • According to the latest Annual Report of the Central Vigilance Commission, the CBI registered 608 FIRs in 2019 and 589 FIRs in 2020.
  • In 2020, a total 86 cases related to demands for bribes by public servants for showing favour, and 30 cases for possession of disproportionate assets were registered.
  • Out of 676 cases in the year (including FIRs and Preliminary Enquiries), 107 cases were taken up on the directions of constitutional courts and 39 on requests from state governments/ Union Territories.
  • Also, there are over 1,300 vacancies in the CBI.

What is the CBI’s progress on cases?

  • At the end of 2020, the CBI had 1,117 cases (both FIRs and PEs) pending investigation. In 2019, this number stood at 1,239.
  • During 2020, investigation was finalised in 693 FIRs and 105 PEs.
  • The conviction rate during the year was 69.83% against 69.19% in 2019.
  • At the end of 2020, 9,757 cases were pending in various courts.
  • The conviction rate in corruption cases was slightly lower at 67% in 2020.
  • Almost 2,000 corruption cases are pending trial for more than 10 years.

What is the role of state consent in an investigation by the CBI?

  • Since 2015, as many as nine states — Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Mizoram and Meghalaya — have withdrawn general consent to the CBI.
  • Opposition-ruled states have alleged the CBI has become its master’s voice, and has been unfairly targeting opposition politicians.
  • Withdrawal of general consent means that to probe any case in these states, CBI would have to take prior permission from the state government.
  • CBI has claimed that this has tied its hands.

Also read

[Burning Issue] Central Bureau of Investigation

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Smart Policing

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CCTN

Mains level: Paper 2- Use of technology in policing and issues with it

Context

On March 11, speaking at the NCRB Foundation Day, the Union Home Minister remarked that the second phase of the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS) is set to be completed by 2026.

Increasing use of technology for policing

  • the Inter-operable Criminal Justice System (ICJS), a Rs 3,500 crore project, is set to be completed by 2026 with increased use of artificial intelligence, fingerprint systems and other tools of predictive policing.
  • One crore fingerprints had already been uploaded and if these were available to all police stations as part of the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), there would no longer be any need to pursue criminals.
  • The existing systems of ICJS and CCTNS empower the state to cross-reference data between different pillars of the criminal justice system.
  • Recently, the Indore Police Commissioner unveiled a “fingerprint-based criminal record data fetching system” in which a small thumb impression machine can be added to a phone.
  • If the fingerprint recorded matches with the police database, all information about a person’s criminal record will be pulled up.

Issues with the use of technologies

  • Privacy concerns: The enthusiasm for generating and cross-referencing data to make policing more efficient ignores privacy concerns and structural faults of policing.
  • The Supreme Court in K.S Puttaswamy declared a fundamental right to informational privacy as paramount and noted that any measure that sought to collect information or surveil must be legal, necessary, and proportionate.
  • Fear of mass surveillance: Integrating “fingerprint-based criminal record data fetching system” to the list of predictive policing practices will give birth to mass surveillance, particularly of certain oppressed caste communities, based on little evidence.
  • Nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes were ascribed “criminality by birth” and considered as “hereditary criminals addicted to systematic commission of non-bailable offences” under the colonial Criminal Tribes Act, 1871.
  • It has been replaced with the murky Habitual Offenders (HO) provisions, which have acted as a tool for police to continue to attribute criminality to Vimukta communities, by mandating their surveillance through regular check-ins at police stations.
  • Mere suspicion or FIRs filed against an individual are sufficient to trigger the discretionary powers of the police.

Consider the question “Use of technology in policing can make it better at the same time run the risk of making it more dangerous.” Critically examine.

Conclusion

With the increasing adoption of technology in policing, we must pay attention to the risks involved and the issue of misuse.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is a First Information Report (FIR)?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: FIR, Cognizable Offence

Mains level: Policing in India

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the IE.

What is an FIR?

  • The term first information report (FIR) is not defined in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1973, or in any other law.
  • However, but in police regulations or rules, information recorded under Section 154 of CrPC is known as FIR.
  • Section 154 (“Information in cognizable cases”) says that every information relating to the commission of a cognizable offence, if given orally to an officer in charge of a police station, shall be recorded in writing.
  • It has to be signed by the person giving it, and the substance thereof shall be entered in a book to be kept by such officer in such form as the State Government may prescribe.

Important components of FIR

In essence, then, there are three important elements of an FIR:

  1. the information must relate to the commission of a cognizable offence,
  2. it should be given in writing or orally to the head of the police station and,
  3. it must be written down and signed by the informant, and its key points should be recorded in a daily diary.

What is a cognizable offence?

  • A cognizable offence/case is one in which a police officer may make an arrest without a warrant.
  • In the First Schedule, “the word ‘cognizable’ stands for ‘a police officer may arrest without warrant’; and the word ‘non-cognizable’ stands for ‘a police officer shall not arrest without warrant’.”

What is the difference between a complaint and an FIR?

  • The CrPC defines a “complaint” as any allegation made orally or in writing to a Magistrate, that some person, whether known or unknown, has committed an offence, but does not include a police report.
  • However, an FIR is a document that has been prepared by the police after verifying the facts of the complaint.
  • The FIR may contain details of the crime and the alleged criminal.
  • If, on the basis of a complaint, it appears that a cognizable offence has been committed, then an FIR under Section 154 CrPC will be registered, and police will open an investigation.
  • If no offence is found, the police will close the inquiry.

What in case of non-cognizable offences?

  • In case of non-cognizable offences, an FIR under Section 155 CrPC, commonly called “NCR”, is registered, and the complainant will be asked to approach a court for an order.
  • The court may then direct the police to conduct an investigation on the complaint.

What is a Zero FIR?

  • When a police station receives a complaint regarding an alleged offence that has been committed in the jurisdiction of another police station, it registers an FIR, and then transfers it to the concerned police station for further investigation.
  • This is called a Zero FIR. No regular FIR number is given.
  • After receiving the Zero FIR, the concerned police station registers a fresh FIR and starts the investigation.

What if the police refuse to register an FIR?

  • Under Section 154(3) CrPC, if any person is aggrieved by the refusal on the part of the officer in charge of a police station to register an FIR, she can send the complaint to the Superintendent of Police/DCP concerned.
  • If the SP/DCP if satisfied that such information discloses the commission of a cognizable offence, will either investigate the case, or direct an investigation by a subordinate police officer.
  • If no FIR is registered, the aggrieved persons can file a complaint under Section 156(3) CrPC before a concerned court.
  • If the court is satisfied that a cognizable offence is made out from the complaint, will direct the police to register an FIR and conduct an investigation.

What happens after an FIR is filed?

  • The police will investigate the case and will collect evidence in the form of statements of witnesses or other scientific materials. They can arrest the alleged persons as per law.
  • If there is sufficient evidence to corroborate the allegations of the complainant, then a charge sheet will be filed.
  • Or else, a Final Report mentioning that no evidence was found will be filed in court.
  • If it is found that no offence has been committed, a cancellation report will be filed. If no trace of the accused persons is found, an ‘untraced’ report will be filed.
  • However, if the court does not agree with the investigation report, it can order further investigation.

 

Try this question from CSP 2021:

Q.With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. Judicial custody means an accused is in the custody of the concerned magistrate and such accused is locked up in police station, not in jail.
  2. During judicial custody, the police officer in charge of the case is not allowed to interrogate the suspect without the approval of the court.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Anti-Mob lynching Bills passed by States go unimplemented

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Mob lynching and the dysfunctions created

Bills passed against mob lynching in some states have not been implemented since lynching is not defined as a crime under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Why are the bills pending?

  • Most bills have been reserved by the Governor for consideration of the President.
  • The President has to go with the advice given by the Council of Ministers, in the case of such legislations, represented by the MHA.
  • The Union Home Ministry examines the State legislations on three grounds-
  1. Repugnancy with Central laws
  2. Deviation from national or central policy and
  3. Legal and constitutional validity

What is Mob Lynching?

  • Lynching is a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group.
  • It is most often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate a group.
  • Recent incident can be recalled from Pakistan where a Sri Lankan national was set ablaze over blasphemy charges.

Dealing with lynching in India

  • In 2017, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected data on mob lynching, hate crimes and cow vigilantism but it was not published and discontinued.
  • This is because, there is “no separate” definition for lynching under the IPC.
  • However, lynching incidents could be dealt with under Sections 300 and 302 of the IPC, pertaining to murder.
  • In 2018, the Supreme Court asked Parliament to make lynching a separate offense.
  • Since then, the government is working to overhaul the IPC framed in 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to consider mob-lynching.

Why anti-lynching law is necessary?

  • Fills the void: It fills a void in our criminal jurisprudence.
  • Lawlessness: The Indian Penal Code has provisions for unlawful assembly, rioting, and murder but nothing that takes cognizance of a group of people coming together to kill (a lynch mob).
  • Rise in Lynching incidents: There has been a rise in lynching incidents in recent years.

Reason for the rise in lynchings

  • Impunity: The lynch mobs are confident of getting away with it. So far, the state has done little to shake that confidence.
  • Communalism: In the case of cow-linked lynchings, a lot depends on whether the incumbent in power considers it compatible with its political interests to crack down on such attacks.
  • Fake news: Another factor that gave rise to lynchings is the spread of fake news through social media platforms which incite a sudden wave of antagonism.
  • Alienation: With modernity, there is a growth of individualism and erosion of associational life. The sense of fraternity has been fading away due to this.
  • Unemployment: High Unemployment rates leave millions of youth unengaged.

Effect of lynching

(1) State

  • Violation of FR: It is against the values upheld in the constitution of India. Every individual have certain fundamental rights any violence would be a curtailment of this right.
  • Law and order crisis: Lynchings have led to degrading regard to law and order.

(2) Economy

  • Reputation damage: Many International agencies warned India against mob lynching incidents. This impacts both foreign and domestic investment thereby adversely affecting sovereign ratings.
  • Impact on migration patterns: It directly hampers internal migration which in turn affects economy.
  • Damage of public property: Large resources deployed to tackle such menaces induces extra burden on state-exchequer.

(3) Society

  • Fear of radicalization: Radical and extremist organizations such as ISIS etc could take leverage of the atmosphere created by such incidents.
  • Communal disharmony: This impact solidarity of society and idea of Unity in diversity. This create an atmosphere of majority v/s minority.
  • Intolerance: It could aggravate caste, class and communal hatred. Such acts shows loss of tolerance in society and people are being swayed by emotions, prejudices etc.

Way forward

  • States should be more vigilant and proactive in flagging rumors using social media and other platforms.
  • Some states are doing it, others need to emulate these examples.
  • The more proactive the administration is in this regard, the stronger a deterrent it will be.
  • There is also a need for a special court for the trial of mob violence.

 

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Centre extends Police Modernisation Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Modernization of Police Forces Scheme

Mains level: Police reforms in India

The Union government has approved the continuation of a police modernization scheme for five years up to 2025-26 with a financial outlay of ₹26,275 crores.

What is the Modernization of Police Forces Scheme?

  • Police’ and ‘law and order’ fall under the category of subjects within the domain of the State as per Entry 2 of List II of the VIIth Schedule in the Constitution of India.
  • Thus, the principal responsibility for managing these subjects lies with the State Governments.
  • However, the States have not been able to fully modernize and equip their police forces up to the desired level due to financial constraints.
  • It is in this context that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been supplementing the efforts and resources of the States, from time to time, by implementing the MPF Scheme since 1969-70.

Objectives:

  • The focus of the scheme is to strengthen police infrastructure at cutting edge level by constructing secure police stations, training centers, police housing (residential), equipping the police stations with the required mobility, modern weaponry, communication equipment, and forensic set-up, etc.

Components of the scheme

  • The scheme included security-related expenditure in J&K, northeastern States, and Maoist-affected areas, for raising new battalions, developing high-tech forensic laboratories and other investigation tools.
  • Provisions have been made under the scheme for internal security, law and order, and the adoption of modern technology by the police.
  • Assistance will be given to the States for narcotics control and strengthening the criminal justice system by developing a robust forensic setup in the country.

Funding pattern

  • Under the Scheme, the States are grouped into two categories, namely Category ‘A’ and Category ‘B’ for the purpose of funding both under ‘Non-Plan’ and Plan.
  • Category ‘A’ States, namely, J&K and 8 North Eastern States including Sikkim will be eligible to receive financial assistance on a 90:10 Centre: State sharing basis.
  • The remaining States will be in Category ‘B’ and will be eligible for financial assistance on a 60:40 Centre: State sharing basis.

 

 

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What is Habeas Corpus?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Writ Jurisdiction, Habeas Corpus

Mains level: Read the attached story

The Supreme Court has decided to examine a habeas corpus plea made by the children of a Pakistan national who they believe has been unlawfully detained for seven years.

What is Habeas Corpus?

  • Habeas corpus is a recourse in law through which a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment to a court.
  • He/she can request that the court order the custodian of the person, usually a prison official, to bring the prisoner to court, to determine whether the detention is lawful.
  • In India the power to issue a writ of habeas corpus is vested only in the Supreme Court and the High Court.
  • Habeas corpus is the writ which was visualized as an effective means to provide a quick remedy to a person who has lost his personal liberty without any legal justification.

What is Article 32?

  • Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, or affirms the right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the Constitution.
  • It is one of the fundamental rights listed in the Constitution that each citizen is entitled.
  • It states that the Supreme Court “shall have the power to issue directions or orders or writs for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part”.
  • The right guaranteed by this Article “shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution”.
  • Dr B R Ambedkar has called it the very soul and heart of the Constitution. It cannot be suspended except during the period of Emergency.

Rights protected by A32

  • The article is included in Part III of the Constitution with other fundamental rights including to Equality, Freedom of Speech and Expression, Life and Personal Liberty, and Freedom of Religion.
  • Only if any of these fundamental rights is violated can a person can approach the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

Types of Writs under it

Both the High Courts and the Supreme Court can be approached for violation or enactment of fundamental rights through five kinds of writs:

  1. Habeas corpus (related to personal liberty in cases of illegal detentions and wrongful arrests)
  2. Mandamus — directing public officials, governments, courts to perform a statutory duty;
  3. Quo Warranto — to show by what warrant is a person holding public office;
  4. Prohibition — directing judicial or quasi-judicial authorities to stop proceedings which it has no jurisdiction for; and
  5. Certiorari — re-examination of an order given by judicial, quasi-judicial or administrative authorities.
  • In civil or criminal matters, the first remedy available to an aggrieved person is that of trial courts, followed by an appeal in the High Court and then the Supreme Court.
  • When it comes to violation of fundamental rights, an individual can approach the High Court under Article 226 or the Supreme Court directly under Article 32.

 

 

Try this PYQ:

Q.Which of the following is included in the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

  1. Dispute between the Government of India and one or more States
  2. A dispute regarding elections to either House of the parliament or that of Legislature of a State
  3. A dispute between the Government of India and Union Territory
  4. A dispute between two or more States.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

(a) 1 and 2

(b) 2 and 3

(c) 1 and 4

(d) 3 and 4

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Disability in india

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Accessibility Standards for law enforcement

Context

The Draft Accessibility Standards/Guidelines recently released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for built infrastructure under its purview (police stations, prisons and disaster mitigation centres) and services associated with them assume significance.

What are the provisions under the Standards?

  • Models for police stations: The Standards set out models for building new police stations as well as improving upon existing police stations and prisons that are modern, gender sensitive and accessible.
  • The Standards speak to the need to make the websites and institutional social networks of police stations accessible, ensuring that persons with disabilities accused of committing any crimes are treated appropriately, having disabled-friendly entrances to police stations and disabled-friendly toilets.
  • Inclusive police force: the Standards state that the police staff on civil duty could be persons with disabilities.
  • Equal protection during natural disasters: Acknowledging that persons with disabilities must receive equal protection as others in such situations, the Standards provide direction on disability inclusion in disaster mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery efforts.
  • They also stress on disability inclusive training for persons involved in disaster relief activities, data aggregation, use of information and communication technology (ICT) and enforcing accessible infrastructure models for schools, hospitals and shelters following the principle of universal design.
  • Accessibility norm: The Standards introduce accessibility norms for services associated with police stations and prisons.
  • These norms promote the use of ICTs to facilitate communication, development of police websites, app-based services for filing complaints, making enquiries, etc., as well as encouraging the use of sign language, communication systems such as Braille, images for persons with psycho-social disabilities, and other augmentative and alternative modes of communication.

Shortcomings of the Standards/norms

  • Accessibility of signage not ensured: The Standards call for the deployment of directional signage regarding accessibility features in the MHA’s physical infrastructure as well as to indicate the location of accessible toilets.
  • However, they do not require that such signage itself be accessible to the visually challenged, such as through auditory means.
  • Certain accommodations merely recommendatory: The Standards characterise several reasonable accommodations that are necessary for the disabled as being merely recommendatory.
  • These include having trained police personnel in every police station to assist persons with disabilities and placing beepers at all entrances to enable the visually challenged/blind to locate themselves.
  • Lack of detail on human assistance: In the case of Patan Jamal Vali, the Court suggested connecting special educators and interpreters with police stations to operationalise the reasonable accommodations embodied in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013.
  • While the standards do require developing a mechanism to provide human assistance to the disabled such as sign language interpreters, they are short on specifics on this count.
  • Lack of representation: Interestingly, the Standards state that the police staff on civil duty could be persons with disabilities.
  • This is inconsistent with the Office Memorandum issued by the Department of Empowerment for Persons with Disabilities on August 18, 2021, according to which the Centre has exempted posts in the Indian Police Service; the Delhi, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshdweep, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Police Service; as well as the Indian Railway Protection Force Service from the mandated 4% reservation for persons with disabilities in government jobs.

Conclusion

In sum, the Standards, when enacted into law, will mark a huge step forward in making our law enforcement apparatus more disabled-friendly. Bolstering the Standards further, by incorporating the suggestions flowing from well- thought-out public comments, will take us closer to the aim of ensuring that India’s disabled citizens truly have the police they deserve.

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When can an individual get Statutory Bail?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Provision for Bail

Mains level: Bail as an FR under Article 21

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has approached the Supreme Court against a Bombay High Court order granting bail to an advocate and activist.

What is the case?

  • In its bail order, the court has asked the NIA Court to decide the conditions for her release.
  • The activist was given ‘default bail’.
  • The case highlights the nuances involved in a court determining the circumstances in which statutory bail is granted or denied, even though it is generally considered “an indefeasible right”.

What is default bail?

  • This is enshrined in Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
  • Also known as statutory bail, this is a Right to Bail that accrues when the police fail to complete investigation within a specified period in respect of a person in judicial custody.
  • When it is not possible for the police to complete an investigation in 24 hours, the police produce the suspect in court and seek orders for either police or judicial custody.

When is the Bail granted?

  • For most offences, the police have 60 days to complete the investigation and file a final report before the court.
  • However, where the offence attracts death sentence or life imprisonment, or a jail term of not less than 10 years, the period available is 90 days.
  • In other words, a magistrate cannot authorise a person’s judicial remand beyond the 60-or 90-day limit.
  • At the end of this period, if the investigation is not complete, the court shall release the person “if he is prepared to and does furnish bail”.

How does the provision vary for special laws?

The extension of time is not automatic but requires a judicial order.

  • Ordinary law (IPC/CrPC): The 60- or 90-day limit is only for ordinary penal law.
  • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act: In NDPS Act, the period is 180 days. However, in cases involving substances in commercial quantity, the period may be extended up to one year.
  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act: In UAPA, the default limit is 90 days only. The court may grant an extension of another 90 days, if it is satisfied that the progress made in the investigation and giving reasons to keep the accused in further custody.

What are the laid-down principles on this aspect?

  • A matter of Right: Default or statutory bail is an indefeasible right’, regardless of the nature of the crime liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • Stipulated period calculation: The stipulated period within which the charge sheet has to be filed begins from the day the accused is remanded for the first time. It includes days undergone in both police and judicial custody, but not days spent in house-arrest.
  • Voluntary: There is no automatic bail.

Try this similar PYQ from CSP 2021:

Q. With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. When a prisoner makes a sufficient case, parole cannot be out denied to such prisoner because it becomes a matter of his/her right.
  2. State Governments have their own Prisoners Release on Parole Rules.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

What is Dual Command System of Policing?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Dual system of Policing

The Dual Command System of Policing is being implemented in Bhopal and Indore.

What is the ‘Dual Command’ System?

  • Under the dual command system, the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police (SP) share powers and responsibilities in a district.
  • Under this structure, the DM is entrusted with issuing arrest warrants, licenses while the SP has powers and responsibilities to investigate crime and make arrests.
  • The system is designed to ensure a lower concentration of power and making the police more accountable to the DM at the district level.

How does the commissionerate system empower the police?

  • Under the police commissionerate system, the powers of both policing and magistracy are concentrated with the commissioner, who is directly accountable to the state government and the state police chief.
  • The commissioner of police under the commissionerate system exercises the powers and duties of a District Magistrate.
  • These powers are also available to any officer under the commissioner who is not below the rank of an Assistant Commissioner of Police.
  • The police are also empowered to conduct externment proceedings and issue written orders to remove a person from their jurisdiction of the commissionerate for a maximum of two years.

Need for such system

Various committees constituted to suggest police reforms have recommended implementation of a police commissioner system.

  • Rapidly urbanized cities: This is for cities which have witnessed rapid urbanization and have a population of more than 10 lakhs.
  • Better accountability: In the 6th report of the National Police Commission, it noted that as compared to police in districts, police in commissionerate in small areas had a better account of themselves.
  • Complex security threats: It further pointed out that in urban areas, the changing dynamism and growing complexities of security threats required a swift and prompt response.
  • Quick responsivity: Usually in large urban areas, law and order situations develop rapidly, requiring a speed and effective operational response from the police.
  • Avoiding delayed action: In districts where the SPs and DMs do not have an understanding, orders to swiftly act are rarely issued in time which aggravates the situation.

Issues with the system

  • Power-sharing: There needs to be some clarity on what powers will be taken away from the revenue officers, collectors, SDMs and how it will impact the society before implementing it.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Issues with ordinance that extend the tenure of the Director of the CBI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: General conent

Mains level: Paper 2- Reforms in CBI

Context

The Central government’s decision to give a five-year tenure to heads of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) has drawn a lot of flak.

Background

  • Apex court’s directive giving a mandatory two-year tenure to the Director of the CBI was a fallout of the Hawala scandal.
  • Prior to that, the government was arbitrary and capricious in choosing the Director.
  • It was not rare to see temporary appointments given to favour some individuals.
  • Seniority was often ignored in appointments and Directors were removed frequently.

Why tenure matters

  • Short tenure: A two-year tenure for a CBI head is too short for any officer to make an impact on the organisation.
  • Longer provides the much-needed continuity that a Director needs in an outfit charged with the task of conducting highly sensitive investigations, which sometimes impinge on the longevity and stability of a democratically elected government.
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation chief in the U.S. gets a 10-year term.

Suggestions

  • Need to avoid government interference: Any blatantly dishonest interference in the working of the organisation is bound to raise the hackles of those who believe in and carry out straightforward investigations.
  • The government will therefore have to show enormous restraint in its interactions with the head of the CBI.
  • Balancing accountability with autonomy: Of course, as a measure of accountability, the Director will have to keep the government informed of all major administrative decisions.
  • He or she should inform the executive but not take orders from it.
  • Need for CBI Act: Successive chiefs have suggested the drafting of a CBI Act to ensure that the organisation is not dependent on the State governments, many of which have withdrawn consent for the CBI to function in that State.
  • Eight States — West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram — have withdrawn the general consent.
  • The CBI should be made to derive its authority for launching investigations from its own statute instead of depending on the Criminal Procedure Code, which makes the CBI a police organisation.

Issue with ordinance

  • The only problem with the latest ordinance is that, at the end of the mandatory two-year tenure, the government will have to issue orders granting one-year extensions at a time. 
  • The rule about three annual extensions can be misused by a tendentious government.
  • It may be construed as a reward for ‘good behaviour’, which is a euphemism for an obliging Director.

Consider the question “What are the challenges facing Central Bureau of Investigation? Suggest the measures to make the organisation more effective.” 

Conclusion

We will have to wait for a few years to gauge the impact of the change in tenure rules. It is preposterous to probe the intentions of this major move.

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Back2Basics: General Consent

  • A “general consent” is normally given by states to help the CBI in seamless investigation of cases of corruption against central government employees in their states.
  • Almost all states have traditionally given such consent, in the absence of which the CBI would have to apply to the state government in every case, and before taking even small actions.
  • Section 6 of The DSPE Act (“Consent of State Government to exercise of powers and jurisdiction”) says: “Nothing contained in section 5 (“Extension of powers and jurisdiction of special police establishment to other areas”) 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.”

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Back in news: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI

Mains level: Issues over CBI

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that the CBI was an “autonomous body” and it had no “control” over the investigative agency.

Background

  • The submission in the top court comes two days after the promulgation of an ordinance extending the tenures of the CBI Director and the Enforcement Directorate chief.
  • Attorney-General K was objecting to a suit filed by the West Bengal Government over the use of CBI.

West Bengal vs. CBI

  • West Bengal has challenged the CBI’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the State in some cases.
  • The State had withdrawn its “general consent” to the CBI way back in 2018.

About CBI

  • The Bureau of Investigation traces its origins to the Delhi Special Police Establishment, a Central Government Police force, which was set up in 1941 by the Government of India.
  • It then aimed to investigate bribery and corruption in transactions with the War and Supply Department of India.
  • It then had its headquarters in Lahore.
  • After the end of the war, there was a continued need for a central governmental agency to investigate bribery and corruption by central-government employees.
  • The DSPE acquired its popular current name, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), through a Home Ministry resolution dated in 1963.

Mandate of the CBI

  • The CBI is the main investigating agency of the GoI.
  • It is not a statutory body; it derives its powers from the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946.
  • Its important role is to prevent corruption and maintain integrity in administration.
  • It works under the supervision of the CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) in matters pertaining to the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
  • The CBI is also India’s official representative with the INTERPOL.

Cases to investigate

  • Cases connected to infringement of economic and fiscal laws
  • Crimes of a serious nature that have national and international ramifications
  • Coordination with the activities of the various state police forces and anti-corruption agencies.
  • It can also take up any case of public importance and investigate it
  • Maintaining crime statistics and disseminating criminal information.

Issues with CBI

  • Caged parrot: The Supreme Court has criticised the CBI by calling it a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”.
  • Political interference: It has often been used by the government of the day to cover up wrongdoing, keep coalition allies in line and political opponents at bay.
  • Investigation delay: It has been accused of enormous delays in concluding investigations due to political inertia.
  • Loss of Credibility: CBI has been criticised for its mismanagement of several cases involving prominent politicians and mishandling of several sensitive cases like Bofors scandal, Bhopal gas tragedy.
  • Lack of Accountability: CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act, thus, lacking public accountability.
  • Acute shortage of personnel: A major cause of the shortfall is the government’s sheer mismanagement of CBI’s workforce.
  • Limited Powers: The powers and jurisdiction of members of the CBI for investigation are subject to the consent of the State Govt., thus limiting the extent of investigation by CBI.
  • Restricted Access: Prior approval of Central Government to conduct inquiry or investigation on the employees of the Central Government is a big obstacle in combating corruption at higher levels of bureaucracy.

Way Forward

  • Need for autonomy:   As long as the government of the day has the power to transfer and post officials of its choice in the CBI, the investigating agency will not enjoy autonomy and will be unable to investigate cases freely.
  • A new CBI Act should be promulgated that ensures the autonomy of CBI while at the same time improving the quality of supervision.
  • Selection of director/ Officers: To ensure that the CBI is a robust, independent and credible investigation agency, there is an urgent need to work out a much more transparent mechanism for selection and induction of officers on deputation.
  • Lokpal scrutiny: The Lokpal Act already calls for a three-member committee made up of the PM, the leader of the opposition and the CJI to select the director.
  • Bifurcation of Cadre: CBI should be bifurcated into an Anti-Corruption Body and a National Crime Bureau.
  • Develop own cadre: One of the demands that have been before Supreme Court, and in line with international best practices, is for the CBI to develop its own dedicated cadre of officers.
  • Annual social audit should be carried out by ten reputed, knowledgeable persons with background of law, justice, public affairs and administration and the audit report should be placed before the parliament.

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Gujarat grants Parole to Prisoners as Diwali gift

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Parole and Furlough

Mains level: Prison reforms in India

The Gujarat government has decided to grant 15-day parole to prisoners above 60 years of age and women prisoners, except those booked in serious offences, as a ‘Diwali gift’.

What is Parole?

  • Furlough and parole envisage a short-term release from custody, both aimed as reformative steps towards prisoners.
  • Parole is granted to meet a “specific exigency” and cannot be claimed as a matter of right.
  • Both provisions are subject to the circumstances of the prisoner, such as jail behaviour, the gravity of offences, sentence period and public interest.

How is it different from Furlough?

  • Furlough may be granted without any specific reason after a convict spends a stipulated number of years.
  • It is a matter of right although cannot be claimed as an ‘absolute legal right’.

Is ‘parole as Diwali gift’ an extraordinary move?

  • The state governments often take a compassionate view on applications for parole during festivals of Diwali, Rakshabandhan, etc.
  • The legislature/politicians do not have direct powers to grant parole on suo-motu cognizance.
  • The announcement only indicates that prisoners will have to make applications to the authorities concerned, which in turn will be considered with leniency and expeditiously.
  • The applications will, however, be subject to scrutiny and the prisoners’ conduct and gravity of their offence.

Who can opt for parole and how?

  • The provision of parole is available to convicts found guilty by a court and such a prisoner.
  • The prisoner’s relative/legal aid may submit an application to the prison superintendent.
  • He/she in turn forwards the application to the ‘competent authority’, often under the jurisdiction of district magistrate concerned and comprising prison and police authorities, to sanction release.
  • After due verification of reasons and prisoner’s conduct by the competent authority, an order for grant of release on parole will be issued.
  • In case of rejection of the said application, a convict may approach the High Court.

Duration of Parole

  • The Prison rules state that parole period may be granted for not more than 30 days.
  • The competent authority may exercise its discretion in case of serious illnesses or death of “nearest relative such as mother, father, sister, brother, children, spouse of the prisoner, or in case of natural calamity.”
  • Parole or extension of parole cannot be granted without a report of the police
  • Apart from the remedy to approach a high court for parole in case of a rejected application, a prison can also approach the high court directly in case of an extraordinary emergency.

 

Try this PYQ from CSP 2021:

Q. With reference to India, consider the following statements:

  1. When a prisoner makes a sufficient case, parole cannot be out denied to such prisoner because it becomes a matter of his/her right.
  2. State Governments have their own Prisoners Release on Parole Rules.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

 

Post your answers here.
6
Please leave a feedback on thisx

 

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Karnataka Gambling Law: Ambit and the High Court Challenge

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Gambling and betting: Legal issues

Last month, the Karnataka legislature passed a legislation to amend the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, making all forms of gambling, including online, a cognisable and non-bailable offence.

Gambling Law

  • The Karnataka Police (Amendment) Act, 2021 was notified and came into force.
  • It is aimed for broadening the scope of gambling beyond what has been defined by law.
  • It was passed despite similar laws introduced in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Telangana having faced legal challenges.

What forms of gambling does the new law cover?

  • The amended law covers all forms of wagering or betting “in connection with any game of chance” with the exception of horse racing and lotteries.
  • It also puts betting on the skills of others in the category of gambling.
  • It provides an exception only to any pure game of skill and not to “wagering by persons taking part in such game of skill”.

Penalties prescribed

  • It enhances maximum punishment for owners of gambling centres from one year to three years of imprisonment and fines from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
  • The minimum punishment proposed is six months instead of the current one month and the fine is Rs 10,000 instead of Rs 500.

Implications of the law

  • Since the new law came into effect, several online gaming firms have geo-locked their apps and sites in Karnataka to prevent attracting police action if customers access the sites.

Legal issues raised by the amended laws

One of the primary grounds on which the new gaming laws in these states has been challenged is:

  • Games of skill: This been clubbed along with games of chance in the definition of gaming, if the games of skill are played for prizes or bets.
  • Violation of FR: Gaming companies have argued — successfully that competitive games of skill are business activities protected under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution.
  • Other examples: Rummy and horse racing have been classified by the courts as games of skill that do not come under the purview of gaming laws.
  • Competence of the state: It has been argued that states do not have “legislative competence” to prohibit games of skill and that only games of chance can be regulated for gambling and betting.

Why has Karnataka amended the law?

  • Ban on online gambling: The statement of objects and reasons justify that the new law is needed to make gambling a cognisable and non-bailable offence (gambling in public streets remains cognisable and bailable).
  • More power to Police: Other reasons cited is that police cannot raid gambling dens without a formal written order from a magistrate, since gambling is a non-cognisable and bailable offence.
  • Public demands for ban: Recent public interest litigations seeking a ban on online gaming and betting, too, have been a trigger for the amendments.
  • Illicit use of cyber-space: The new law has also been introduced to include the use of cyberspace as defined in the IT Act 2000 to curb the menace of gaming through internet.

Will these amendments stand the test of law?

  • As mentioned, a similar law in Tamil Nadu was struck down by the Madras High Court as being ultra vires after it was challenged by online gaming firms.
  • The court ruled that- Games and sporting activities in the physical form cannot be equated with games conducted in virtual mode or in cyberspace.
  • However, when it comes to card games or board games such as chess or Scrabble, there is no distinction between the skill involved in the physical form of the activity or in the virtual form.
  • The HC said both rummy and poker are games of skill.

 

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Bengal can’t bar CBI, Centre tells Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI

Mains level: Issues with CBI

The Union Government has told the Supreme Court West Bengal state govt does not have any “absolute” power to keep the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from investigating crimes inside the State.

What is the issue?

  • A case of post-poll violence was transferred to the CBI by the Calcutta High Court.
  • Hence the State Police is under a cloud.
  • In a response to this, the West Bengal had filed a suit against the Union of India under Article 131 of the Constitution.

What is Article 131 of Indian Constitution?

  • Article 131 states talks about the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on matters subject to the provisions of Constitution between the Government of India and one or more States.
  • Thus, the Article allows a state to file a suit in the Supreme Court in case of any dispute that it may have with the central government, invoking the court’s “original jurisdiction”.

Why WB challenged the Union govt?

  • The State has challenged the CBI’s jurisdiction to register FIRs and conduct investigations in the State in myriad cases.
  • West Bengal said it had withdrawn “general consent” to the CBI way back in 2018.
  • The State said the CBI’s actions were a direct attack on the federal structure of governance.

What is this ‘General Consent’ about?

  • 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 an investigation in that state.
  • Hence the CBI has jurisdiction only over central government departments and employees.
  • However, it can investigate a case involving state government employees or a violent crime in a given state only with the consent of state government.

Arguments made by Centre

  • The Centre said that the CBI was an autonomous body not controlled by the Union Government.
  • Hence the suit was misplaced and should be dismissed.

Back2Basics:

Central Bureau of Investigation: Composition, Functions

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Custodial Violence

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NCRB

Mains level: Paper 2- Police reforms

Context

Earlier this month, Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana expressed concern at the degree of human rights violations in police stations in the country. He said that “the threat to human rights and bodily integrity is the highest in police stations”

Deaths in police custody

  • Improvement in the situation: A reality check shows that the picture is not so bleak and efforts are being made to improve the human rights protection regime in police stations.
  • National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data reveal that though the number of custodial deaths varies year to year, on average of about 100 custodial deaths have taken place every year between 2010 and 2019.
  • Of them, about 3.5 persons allegedly died due to injuries caused by policemen.
  • A judicial inquiry, which is mandatory for every suspicious custodial death, was conducted in 26.4 cases.
  • Though every death in custody needs to be prevented, suspicious deaths which bring disrepute to the police system must be rooted out completely.

Measures to reduce the instances of custodial violence

1) Reduce the number of arrests

  • As per the law, arrest for offences punishable up to seven years of imprisonment should be made only when such arrest is necessary to prevent the person from tampering with evidence, or committing any further offence, etc.
  • The Supreme Court held that each arrest must be necessary and justified; having the authority to arrest is alone not sufficient.
  • In Arnesh Kumar v. State of Bihar (2014), it was held that despite the offence being non-bailable under Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which relates to torture for dowry, arrest is not mandatory as per Section 41 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
  • In Special Action Forum v. Union of India (2018), the Court further held that the police officer shall furnish to the magistrate the reasons and materials which necessitated the arrest for further detention of the accused.
  • The purpose of these checks is to ensure that the police does not abuse the power of arrest.
  • NCRB data show that the ratio of the number of arrests to the number of IPC offences has decreased from 1.33 in 2010 to 0.96 in 2019.

2) Separate investigation from law and order

  • The National Police Commission (1977-81), the Law Commission in its 154th report (1996) and the Malimath Committee Report (2003), and the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006), have recommended that the investigating police should be separated from the law-and-order police to ensure better expertise in investigation.
  • It is believed that a separate wing will do more professional investigation and will not use unwarranted methods to extract confession from the accused.
  • Though efforts have been made by some States in this direction, more resources are required in policing to implement the Court’s directions.

3) Increase the number of investigating officers

  • Unless investigating officers are increased in proportion to the number of serious offences, the quality of investigation may suffer.
  • The Malimath Committee’s recommendation that an investigating officer should preferably investigate no more than 10 cases every year needs to be implemented.
  • Subject expert officers: With the increase of newer types of crime like white collar crime and cybercrime, subject experts are needed to assist the police in the investigation.

4) Sensitise Police

  • The police officers must know that their mandate is to protect human rights and not violate them.
  • They need to be sensitised regularly and encouraged to employ scientific tools of interrogation and investigation like the lie detection test, narco test and brainfingerprinting test.

5) Display board on human rights

  • The CJI’s suggestion to install display boards on human rights to disseminate information about the constitutional right to legal aid and availability of free legal aid services may deter police excesses.

Steps taken to deal with the issue

  • Much has changed in the police consequent to the judgment in D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal (1996) in which the Supreme Court laid down guidelines to check custodial torture.
  • Guidelines incorporated in CrPC: Most of these guidelines such as providing information to a friend or relative about the arrest, medical examination, and permission to meet a lawyer have now been incorporated in the CrPC.
  • CCTV Cameras installed:  In Paramvir Singh v. Baljit Singh (2020), the Supreme Court has directed States to cover more area of each police station under CCTV cameras and have storage facility of audio-video recording for 18 months.
  • Actions against guilty:  NCRB data show that on average about 47.2 criminal cases were registered annually against policemen in last 10 years.
  • Departmental action against errant officers is a rule in the police force, rather than an exception.
  • Compensation by NHRC: The National Human Rights Commission also oversees deaths in custody due to human rights violations and recommends compensation in appropriate cases.
  • Incentives linked with police reforms: The Home Ministry has recently linked the ‘police modernisation scheme’ with police reforms.
  • Unless sufficient action is taken by the State governments and the police authorities, incentives in the form of additional funds will not be released.

Consider the question “Human right violations in police stations is a cause for concerns. What are the reasons for such violations? Suggest the measures to curb it.”

Conclusion

Our commitment to the protection of human rights is unconditional and total. Many steps have been taken so far to check custodial violence and no stone shall be left unturned to eliminate such violence in toto.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Preventive detention a necessary evil: Supreme Court

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Article 21, 22

Mains level: Need for preventive detention

Preventive detention, the dreaded power of the State to restrain a person without trial, could be used only to prevent public disorder, the Supreme Court held in a judgment.

What is Preventive Detention?

  • Preventive detention means detaining a person so that to prevent that person from commenting on any possible crime.
  • In other words, preventive detention is an action taken by the administration on the grounds of the suspicion that some wrong actions may be done by the person concerned which will be prejudicial to the state.

PD in India

A police officer can arrest an individual without orders from a Magistrate and without any warrant if he gets any information that such an individual can commit any offense.

  • Preventive Detention Law, 1950: According to this law any person could be arrested and detained if his freedom would endanger the security of the country, foreign relations, public interests, or otherwise necessary for the country.
  • Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1968: Within the ambit of UAPA law the Indian State could declare any organization illegal and could imprison anyone for interrogation if the said organization or person critiqued/questioned Indian sovereignty territorially.

What is the difference between preventive detention and an arrest?

  • An ‘arrest’ is done when a person is charged with a crime.
  • In the case of preventive detention, a person is detained as he/she is simply restricted from doing something that might deteriorate the law-and-order situation.
  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.

Rights of an Arrested Person in India

A/c to Article 22(1) and 22(2) of the Indian constitution:

  • A person cannot be arrested and detained without being informed why he is being arrested.
  • A person who is arrested cannot be denied to be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. This means that the arrested person has right to hire a legal practitioner to defend himself/ herself.
  • Every person who has been arrested would be produced before the nearest magistrate within 24 hours.
  • The custody of the detained person cannot be beyond the said period by the authority of magistrate.

Exceptions for Preventive Detention

Article 22(3) says that the above safeguards are not available to the following:

  • If the person is at the time being an enemy alien
  • If the person is arrested under certain law made for the purpose of “Preventive Detention”

Constitutional provision

  • It is extraordinary that the framers of the Indian Constitution, who suffered most because of the Preventive Detention Laws, did not hesitate to give Constitutional sanctity.
  • B.R. Ambedkar was of the opinion that the freedom of the individual should not supersede the interests of the state.
  • He had also stated that the independence of the country was in a state of inflancy and in order to save it, preventive detention was essential.

Issues with preventive detention

  • Arbitrariness: The police determinations of whether a person poses a threat are not tested at a trial by leading evidence or examined by legally trained persons.
  • Rights violation: Quiet often, there is no trial (upto 3 months), no periodic review, and no legal assistance for the detained person.
  • Abuse: It does not provide any procedural protections such as to reduce detainees’ vulnerability to torture and discriminatory treatment, and to prevent officials’ misusing preventive detention for subversive activities.
  • Tool for suppression: In the absence of proper safeguards, preventive detention has been misused, particularly against the Dalits and the minorities.

What has the apex court recently rule?

  • Preventive detention is a necessary evil only to prevent public disorder.
  • The court must ensure that the facts brought before it directly and inevitably lead to harm, danger or alarm, or feeling of insecurity among the general public or any section thereof at large.
  • The State should not arbitrarily resort to “preventive detention” to deal with all and sundry “law and order” problems, which could be dealt with by the ordinary laws of the country.
  • Whenever an order under a preventive detention law is challenged, one of the questions the court must ask in deciding its legality is: was the ordinary law of the land sufficient to deal with the situation?
  • If the answer is in the affirmative, the detention order will be illegal.

Upholding the Article 21

  • Preventive detention must fall within the four corners of Article 21 (due process of law) read with Article 22 (safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention) and the statute in question, Justice Nariman ruled.
  • The Liberty of a citizen is a most important right won by our forefathers after long, historical, and arduous struggles.

Conclusion

  • The constitutional philosophy of personal liberty is an idealistic view, the curtailment of liberty for reasons of State’s security; public order, disruption of national economic discipline, etc.
  • They are envisaged as a necessary evil to be administered under strict constitutional restrictions.
  • India is a large country and many separatist tendencies against the national security and integrity existed and existing and a strict law is required to counter the subversive activities.
  • The number of persons detained in these acts is not a very large and due attention is made before preventive detention.
  • Having such kind of acts has a restraining influence on the anti-social and subversive elements.
  • The state should have very effective powers to deal with the acts in which the citizens involve in hostile activities, espionage, coercion, terrorism, etc.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

One nation, one police is a reform that is long overdue

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Police Act 1861

Mains level: Paper 2- One nation, one police

Context

Police reforms are still an unfinished task, fifteen years after the Supreme Court gave directives in the Prakash Singh case in 2006.

Integrated schemes in different facilities

  • The Government of India has lately been talking of “One Nation, One Ration Card”, “One Nation, One Registry”, “One Nation, One Gas Grid”, and even “One Nation, One Election”.
  • These ideas would contribute to an integrated scheme in different facilities and networks across the country.
  • The attempt at uniformity should, however, take cognisance of local factors and special features.

Issue of different states passing different Police Act

  • Every state is legislating a different Police Act, purportedly in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms given on September 22, 2006.
  • We are in the process of having “one nation, many police acts”.
  • Circumventing the Prakash Singh judgement: The objective behind these laws is to give legislative cover to the existing arrangement and thereby circumvent the judicial directions given in the Prakash Singh judgement in 2006.
  •  Eighteen states have already passed Police Acts.
  • Absence of central guidelines: Several states have, in the absence of any central guidance or directive, passed their own Police Acts, blatantly violating the Supreme Court’s directions.
  • No action by judiciary: The Supreme Court has, for inexplicable reasons, not issued a contempt notice to any of the states for non-compliance of its directions on police reforms.

Way forward

1) The Centre should legislate a Model Police Act

  • Article 252 of the Constitution gives Parliament the power to legislate for two or more states by consent.
  • Soon after the Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms, the Police Act Drafting Committee of the Ministry of Home Affairs came out with the Model Police Act, 2006.
  • The Government of India should have enacted a law based on this Model Police Act with such changes as it may have found necessary, and the states should have mutatis mutandis ( making necessary alterations while not affecting the main point at issue) adopted it.
  • The least that the Government of India could have done was to legislate for the UTs and then prevailed upon the states to pass similar legislation.
  • Enacting a law in the states could have been incentivised by linking their passage with the modernisation grants made available to the states.

2) Need for the spirit of cooperative federalism

  • In recent times, we saw the unseemly spectacle of the Mumbai police commissioner accusing the state home minister of using the police as an instrument for extortion.
  • In West Bengal, the police have been a mute spectator to the post-election violence.
  • The Centre, through a fiat, gave protection to all the MLAs of the BJP.
  • Normally, any such arrangement should have been in consultation and with the involvement of the state government. 
  • Cooperative federalism: The best option would be for the central and state governments to respect each other’s turf in a spirit of cooperative federalism.

3)Need for a fresh look at the distribution of power

  • If the central and state governments cannot respect each other’s turf, it would perhaps be necessary to have a fresh look at the distribution of powers in the seventh schedule of the Constitution.

Conclusion

Police reforms on the lines of judicial directives given by the Supreme Court is the need of the hour. The centre needs to act first and nudge the states toward a uniform police structure throughout the country.


Back2Basics: Supreme Court Directive on Police Reforms

1) Limit political control

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

2. Appointments based on merit

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

3. Fix minimum tenure

  • Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in charge of a district and Station House Officers in charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of 2 years.

4. Separate police functions

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

5. Set up fair and transparent systems

  • Set up a Police Establishment Board to decide and make recommendations on transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

6. Establish a Police Complaints Authority in each state

  • At the state level, there should be a Police Complaints Authority to look into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody.
  • At the district level, the Police Complaints Authority should be set up to inquire into public complaints against the police personnel of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct.

7. Set up a selection commission

  • A National Security Commission needs to be set up at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of chiefs of the Central Police Organizations with a minimum tenure of 2 years.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Gatekeeper Model to prevent suicides in prisons

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Gatekeeper Model

Mains level: Prison reforms in India

In a bid to prevent suicides triggered by mental health issues in prisons across the country, the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, has recommended the “Gatekeeper Model”.

What is the ‘Gatekeeper Model’?

  • It is a model where selected inmates, trained to identify prisoners at risk of suicide, would refer them to treatment or supportive services.
  • Prisoners with mental disorders will be regularly assessed for the severity of the suicidal risk and also put on regular and supervised medication.
  • To address the prisoner’s mental health needs, the correctional facility would have links to community-based initiatives like the District Mental Health Programme.

Buddy system

  • The concept of a ‘Buddy System’ — social support through trained prisoners called “buddies” or “listeners” — was found to have a good impact on the well-being of suicidal prisoners.
  • Periodic telephone conversations with friends and family would also foster support.

Why such a move?

  • Emphasizing the mental health of prisoners, the Ministry said incarcerated people could face many vulnerabilities during the pandemic, which might impact their mental wellbeing.
  • The prison staff was also working under tremendous pressure and faced challenges in performing their duty while safeguarding themselves from contracting the infection.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Interference an investigating officer can do without

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Judicial interference in investigation

Context

Instances of judiciary directing the investigating officer point to the need for restraint from the judiciary.

Challenging the discretion of investigating officer

  • There have been growing instances of subordinate judicial officers, and even High Courts sometimes, directing the investigating officer to effect the arrest of a particular individual.
  • To deal with the issue, the Supreme Court of India recently made the observation that courts have no authority to direct an investigating officer to in turn direct the arrest of any particular individual connected with a crime
  • This points to the need for a slightly kindlier view of police conduct and more latitude to them in the standard operating procedures which they follow, especially when they investigate a complicated crime.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) vests sufficient discretion in the investigating officer to take such decisions as arrests and searches.

Issues with court’s directions

  • Court observations that smack of a lack of faith in police ability and integrity will make grass-root level policemen even more arbitrary than now and force them into carrying out questionable actions that will cast aspersions on an officer’s ability to think for himself.
  • Court interference in the day-to-day investigation is not only undesirable but is also not sanctioned by law.
  • Only the Supreme Court, has been vested with enormous authority and discretion by the Constitution, the lesser courts shall not give directions in the matter of arrests and searches.

Safeguard against police misconduct

  • We need to educate the Executive and the common man that it is now well-established law that the police have to register an FIR.
  • It is mandatory that every police station in the land should register a complaint under the relevant sections of a statute the moment a cognisable offence is made out in the complaint
  • There is another safeguard against police misconduct.
  • The CrPC makes it obligatory for the investigating officer to write a diary that details the action taken every day following registration.
  • When in doubt, the competent court, which already has a copy of the first information report, can demand to see the case diary.
  • Courts should remember that the police are a well-established hierarchy that is obligated to ensure objectivity during a criminal investigation.
  • Every investigation is supervised by at least two immediate senior officers.

Conclusion

Judicial interference in an investigation is counterproductive to the idea of justice. Therefore, there is a need for allowing more freedom to the investigating officers in the standard operating procedure that they follow.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

How police can serve citizens better

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CCTNS

Mains level: Paper 2- Technology driven service delivery mechanism by

The article highlights the necessity of adopting the technology driven service delivery mechanism by the police.

SC mandated police reforms of 2006

Cost of inefficient criminal justice system

  • There is a reluctance to implement the Supreme Court-mandated police reforms of 2006.
  • The economic cost of the failed criminal justice system is reflected in the reluctance of foreign companies to set up manufacturing and commercial ventures in India for want of quick settlement of criminal, labour and civil disputes.
  • The social implications can be gauged from the report, “Crime in India 2019”, published by the National Crime Records Bureau.
  • Investigation and prosecution need improvement and all criminal trials must be completed within a year.
  • Technology-driven service delivery mechanisms can help achieve this.

Need to ensure time-bound delivery of services

  • Along with prevention and detection of crime and maintenance of law and order, police stations in India undertake numerous daily tasks.
  • These tasks include providing verifications and no objection certificates of different kinds to citizens.
  • In criminal and non-cognisable cases, police stations provide copies of FIRs, complaints and final reports.
  • Police stations also verify domestic help/employees of central and state governments/public sector undertakings/students going abroad for studies.
  • The Bureau of Police Research & Development (BPR&D) had identified 45 such tasks in 2017.
  • Ease of business means police stations dispose of these requests in a transparent and time-bound manner.
  • The procedures are non-transparent and timelines are often blurred which encourage corrupt practice.
  • Even as police reforms are pursued by the Supreme Court, a definite attempt can be made to ensure time-bound delivery of the above-mentioned services to citizens.

Use of technology for service delivery

  • These e-portals of various state police seek to provide citizen-centric services such as requests for issue/renewal of various NOCs, verification requests for servants, employment, passport, senior citizen registrations etc.
  • The India Justice Report (IJR) 2020 supported by Tata Trusts has studied the e-portals of various state police organisations.
  • The report mentions that “despite the push for digitisation, no state offered the complete bouquet of services…
  • The report also mentions that users face numerous problems of accessibility to these services.
  • The IJR 2020 audit confirms that states need to invest more resources to upgrade their e-portals for providing the 45 identified basic services to the citizens

Way forward

  • This highlights that technology for service delivery to citizens has not been prioritised by the police leadership.
  • . This is a task that police leadership can concentrate on without any political interference.
  • The Bureau of Police Research had worked out the timeline for each service and the hierarchy/levels involved.
  • The recommendations have been shared with the state police organisations.
  • Adhering to a defined process with a timeline and clear delineation of the levels of police officers involved can ensure transparent and non-corrupt service delivery.
  • It will reduce the number of fruitless visits a citizen makes to a police station chasing different officers.
  • Along with ease of use, the language of e-portals needs attention too.
  • Citizens seeking clearances may not be very educated.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) earmarked about Rs 20,000 crore for the modernisation of police (2017-2020), for schemes such as crime and criminal tracing networks and system (CCTNS), police wireless and e-prisons.
  • States can take up this crucial service delivery mechanism.

Conclusion

Life for Indians would be transformed if government departments, including the police, provide maximum information and services through their portals respecting the defined processes and timelines

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CBI

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI

Mains level: Issues with the CBI

The high-powered selection committee headed by the Prime Minister has finalized some names for the post of CBI director.

Try answering this:

Q.Why the CBI is called “a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”? Critically comment.

Central Bureau of Investigation

  • The CBI is the premier investigating agency of India operating under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • It was originally set up to investigate bribery and governmental corruption.
  • In 1965 it received expanded jurisdiction to investigate breaches of central laws enforceable by the Government of India, multi-state organized crime, multi-agency or international cases.
  • The agency has been known to investigate several economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption, and other cases.
  • CBI is exempted from the provisions of the Right to Information Act. CBI is India’s officially designated single point of contact for liaison with Interpol.

Its composition

  • The CBI is headed by a Director, an IPS officer with a rank of Director General of Police.
  • The director is selected by a high-profile committee constituted under The Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act, 1946 as amended through The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, and has a two-year term.
  • The Appointment Committee consists of:
  1. Prime Minister – Chairperson
  2. Leader of Opposition of Loksabha or the Leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, if the former is not present due to lack of mandated strength in the Lok Sabha – member
  3. Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court Judge recommended by the Chief Justice – member

Jurisdiction, powers and restrictions

  • The legal powers of investigation of the CBI are derived from the DSPE Act 1946, which confers powers, duties, privileges and liabilities on the Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) and officers of the UTs.
  • The central government may extend to any area (except UTs) the powers and jurisdiction of the CBI for investigation, subject to the consent of the government of the concerned state.
  • Members of the CBI at or above the rank of sub-inspector may be considered officers in charge of police stations.
  • Under the DSPE Act, the CBI can investigate only with notification by the central government.

Relationship with state police

  • The CBI was originally constituted under the DSPE Act, to operate within the territory of Delhi.
  • As policing and law is a subject that falls within state powers under the structure of Indian federalism, the CBI needs prior consent from other state governments in order to conduct investigations within their territory.
  • This consent can be in the form of a ‘general consent’ under Section 6 of the DSPE Act, which remains in operation for all investigations.
  • Once consent is granted, the CBI can investigate economic, corruption, and special crimes (including national security, drugs and narcotics, etc.)
  • Most Indian states had granted general consent to the CBI to investigate crimes within their territory.
  • However, as of 2020, several states have withdrawn their ‘general consent’ for the CBI to operate, and require special consent to be granted on a case-to-case basis.

Issues with CBI

  • In 2013, Judge of the Supreme Court of India (and later CJI) R. M. Lodha criticized the CBI for being a “caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”.
  • This was due to its excessive political interference irrespective of which party happened to be in power.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Strengthening the process of choosing the police chief

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Protecting the police from political interference

The article suggests the need for reforms in the process of appointment to the police chief to ensure the political neutrality of the police.

Process of appointing and removing police chief

  •  A crucial way in which governments exercise control over the State police is through their unregulated power to decide who the chief will be.
  • There is no independent vetting process to assess the suitability of qualified candidates, and the government’s assessment, if it is done at all, remains opaque and is an exercise behind closed doors.
  •  The moot reform issue is in ensuring the right balance between the government’s legitimate role in appointing or removing the police chief with the need to safeguard the chief’s operational autonomy.

Need for reforms

Two elements are vital to reforms in this area.

1) Shift the responsibility to independent oversight body of which government is one part

  • The National Police Commission (NPC) (1979), and the Supreme Court in its judgment in 2006, in the Prakash Singh case suggested establishing a state-level oversight body with a specified role in the appointment and removal of police chiefs.
  • While the Supreme Court entrusted the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) with a role in shortlisting candidates from which the State government is to appoint the police chief.
  • However, the Model Police Bill, 2015 places the responsibility with a multiparty State Police Board, also referred to as the State Security Commission (SSCs) instead.

No compliance with SC directive in the formation of SSC

  • While 26 States and the Union Territories have established SSCs, not a single one adheres to the balanced composition suggested by the top court.
  • Some do not include the Leader of the Opposition; others neither include independent members nor follow an independent selection process of the members.
  • In essence, the commissions remain dominated by the political executive.
  • Moreover, in as many as 23 States, governments retain the sole discretion of appointing the police chief. Assam, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Meghalaya and Mizoram are the only States where, on paper, the SSC is given the responsibility of shortlisting candidates.

2) Need for transparency

  • The second element critical to police reforms is instituting an independent and transparent selection and decision-making process around appointment and removal, against objective criteria.
  •  On appointments, the Court and the Model Police Act require the UPSC/SSC to shortlist candidates on the basis of length of service, service record, and range of experience and a performance appraisal of the candidates over the past 10 years.
  • However, no further guidance has been developed on explaining these terms or specifying their elements.
  • Similarly, no scrutiny process has been prescribed to justify removals from tenure posts.
  • The National Police Commission had required State governments to seek the approval of the State Security Commission before removing the police chief before the end of term.
  • This important check was diluted under the Prakash Singh judgment that only requires governments to consult the SSC.
  • Most States omit even this cursory step.
  • The Supreme Court has rightly emphasised that “prima facie satisfaction of the government” alone is not a sufficient ground to justify removal from a tenure post in government, such as that of the police chief (T.P. Senkumar vs Union of India, 2017).
  • The rule of law requires such decisions be for compelling reasons and based on verifiable material that can be objectively tested.

Way forward

  • Clear and specific benchmarks need to be integrated into decision-making processes, both on appointments and removals, to prevent politically motivated adverse actions.
  • In improving transparency the United Kingdom provides a useful example by introducing public confirmation hearings as an additional layer of check for the appointment of the heads of their police forces.

Consider the question “Examine the status of compliance of the states to the directives of the Supreme Court with respect to the constitution of State Security Commission in the Prakash Singh case.”

Conclusion

Reforms are needed on urgent to ensure fairness in administrative decisions and to protect the political neutrality of the police. Any further delay in implementing reforms in this area will continue to demoralise the police and cripple the rule of law.

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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Why police reform recommendations have not been implemented

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

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

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

Background of the Prakash Sing judgement

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

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

Selection and minimum tenure of DGP

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

Separation between investigation and prosecution wings

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

The Police Complaint Authority

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

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

Conclusion

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


Back2Basics: The SC directives in the Prakash Singh case

1) Limit Political Control

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

2) Appointment based on merit

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

3) Fix minimum tenure

  • Ensure that other police officers on operational duties (including Superintendents of Police in charge of a district and Station House Officers in charge of a police station) are also provided a minimum tenure of 2 years.

4) Separate police functions

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

5) Set up fair and transparent systems

  • Set up a Police Establishment Board to decide and make recommendations on transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of police officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

6) Establish a Police Complaints Authority in each state

  • At the state level, there should be a Police Complaints Authority to look into public complaints against police officers of and above the rank of Superintendent of Police in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody.

7) Set up a selection commission

  • A National Security Commission needs to be set up at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of chiefs of the Central Police Organizations with a minimum tenure of 2 years.

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Prakash Singh Judgment on Police Reforms, 2006

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Prakash Singh Judgment

Mains level: Police reforms

Political interference in police postings continues despite the landmark Prakash Singh judgment nearly a decade-and-a-half ago that addressed the issue and was pegged to be a watershed moment in police reforms.

Politics is a perplexing, but fascinating game. It takes ages to unravel the intricate secrets that shroud the kernel of closed room politics. But contrary has happened with the Maharashtra Police.

What is the SC’s Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms?

  • Prakash Singh, who served as DGP of UP Police and Assam Police besides other postings, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court post-retirement, in 1996, seeking police reforms.
  • In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court in September 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.
  • The ruling issued a series of measures that were to be undertaken by the governments to ensure the police could do their work without worrying about any political interference.

What measures were suggested by the Supreme Court?

  • The seven main directives from the Supreme Court in the verdict were fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.
  • In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians.
  • The SC further directed postings of officers being done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders.
  • Further, there was a recommendation of setting up the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach.
  • Apart from this, the SC directed the separation of investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing, setting up State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society and forming a National Security Commission.

How did states respond to these directives?

  • The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), in its report of 2020 has some useful data.
  • It tracked changes made in the police force following the 2006 judgment.
  • It has found that not even one state was fully compliant with the apex court directives and that while 18 states passed or amended their Police Acts in this time, not one fully matches legislative models.

What has been the response of the Supreme Court to these issues?

  • Prakash Singh said that he has followed up on these issues and has had nearly five contempt petitions issued in the past decades to states found to be non-compliant.
  • Singh said that bigger states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and UP have been the worst when it comes to bringing about systemic changes in line with the judgment and that it is only the North-Eastern states that have followed the suggested changes in spirit.
  • Singh said states like Maharashtra make their own laws that are not effective.
  • The need of the hour is an all-India Act that all states have to follow and small changes can be made in exceptional cases relating to the situation in a particular state.

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India Justice Report, 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: India Justice Report

Mains level: State of justice delivery, law and order in India

The second edition of the Indian Justice Report (IJR) was recently launched.

Note the findings of this report. It is the only such report of its kind published in India.

India Justice Report

  • The IJR is an initiative of Tata Trusts in collaboration with Centre for Social Justice, Common Cause and Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative among others.
  • It was first published in 2019.
  • It brings together otherwise siloed statistics from authoritative government sources, on the four pillars of justice delivery – Police, Judiciary, Prisons and Legal Aid.

Major highlights of the Report

  • The report highlights stark conclusions when aggregated for an all-India picture.
  • Women comprise only 29 per cent of judges in India.
  • Two-thirds of the country’s prisoners are yet to be convicted.
  • In the last 25 years, since 1995, only 1.5 crore people have received legal aid, though 80 per cent of the country’s population is entitled to.
  • The report gives ranks Maharashtra once again at the top of the 18 large- and mid-sized states (with a population of over one crore each), followed by Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and Kerala.
  • The list of seven small states (population of less than one crore each) was topped by Tripura, followed by Sikkim and Goa.

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What is the ‘Top 25’ drive initiated by Mumbai police?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Top 25 drive

Mains level: Preventive detention, Chapter proceedings

The Mumbai police have started a drive titled ‘Top 25’ aimed at keeping under check history-sheeters and those they believe could create trouble.

Preventive detention laws in India have come to be associated with gross and frequent misuse.

What is the ‘Top 25’ drive of the Mumbai police?

  • The Mumbai police commissioner has asked all police stations in the city to make a list of the “top 25” criminals and ask them to sign a bond of good behavior failing which they would have to pay a fine.
  • The aim is to rein in criminal elements and those the police believe could create a law and order problem in the city.
  • While this practices that is termed “chapter proceedings” has been followed in the past, the amount a person would usually forfeit was around Rs 10,000 – Rs 15,000.
  • Now, the amount has been raised up to Rs 50 lakh.

How is the police calculating the surety amount now?

  • The police are now going through the bank details and tax returns of the person and the surety amount is set in accordance with the annual income of the offender or his family.
  • The police believe that the threat of having to pay a high amount will act as a deterrent and that a few thousand as surety amount did not have the desired effect.

What are Chapter Proceedings?

  • Chapter proceedings are preventive actions taken by the police if they fear that a particular person is likely to cause law and order trouble.
  • These proceedings are unlike punitive action taken in case of an FIR with an intention to punish.
  • Here, the police can issue notices under sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure that the person is aware that creating a nuisance could result in action against him.
  • Recently, the Mumbai police initiated chapter proceedings against an extremely chauvinistic news reporter and media head.

Rights of the accuse

  • On receiving such notice, a person can appeal before the courts.
  • In fact, in the past, courts have come down strongly against chapter proceedings in some cases.
  • In 2017, while striking down a notice issued to the owner of a bar, the Bombay High Court said: “chapter proceedings cannot be initiated on the basis of an incident of trivial nature”.

Back2Basics: Arrest vs. Preventive Detention

An ‘arrest’ is done when a person is charged with a crime. An arrested person is produced before a magistrate within the next 24 hours. In case of preventive detention, a person is detained as he/she is simply restricted from doing something that might deteriorate the law and order situation.

  • Article 22 of the Indian Constitution provides safeguards against the misuse of police powers to make arrests and detentions.
  • Clause (2) of Article 22 reads that every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twenty-four hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey.
  • Clause (4) of the article states that no individual can be detained for more than 3 months unless a bench of High court judges or an Advisory board decides to extend the date.
  • Clause (5) states that the detained individual should be made aware of the grounds he/she has been detained (in pursuance of the order) and should provide him/her with an opportunity of making a representation against the case.
  • Parliament may by law prescribe the circumstances under a person may be detained for a period longer than three months under any law.

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Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: BEOSP

Mains level: Use of technolgy in crime investigations

A brain electrical oscillation signature profiling (BEOSP) test will be conducted on the convicts of the alleged rape and murder in Hathras, Uttar Pradesh.

Note: According to Article 20(3) of the Indian constitution, no person accused of any offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself. The privilege against self-incrimination is a fundamental canon of common criminal law jurisprudence.

What is the BEOSP test?

  • BEOSP also known as brain fingerprinting is a neuro-psychological method of interrogation in which the accuser’s participation in the crime is investigated by studying their brain’s response.
  • The BEOSP test is carried out via a process known as an electroencephalogram, conducted to study the electrical behaviour of the human brain.
  • Under this test, the consent of the accused is first taken and they are then made to wear caps with dozens of electrodes attached to them.
  • The accused are then shown visuals or played audio clips related to the crime to check if there is any triggering of neurons in their brains which then generate brainwaves.
  • The test results are then studied to determine the participation of the accused in a crime.

What differentiates a BEOSP test from a polygraph or a lie detector?

  • The BEOSP procedure does not involve a question-answer session with the accused and is rather a neuro psychological study of their brain.
  • In a polygraph test, the accused person’s physiological indicators are taken into account which includes blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration and skin conductivity.
  • While a person might be able to control their pulse rate and BP even in times of distress, a BEOSP test

Can these tests be admitted as evidence?

  • Not as a standalone, a/c to the 2010 Supreme Court judgment in the Selvi v. State of Karnataka case.
  • The bench observed that narco analysis, polygraph and brain mapping tests cannot be forced upon any individual without their consent and the test results cannot be admitted solely as evidence.
  • However, any information or material discovered during the tests can be made part of the evidence, observed the bench.

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What is General Consent accorded to the CBI?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: CBI

Mains level: Read the attached story

Kerala has decided to withdraw the general consent accorded to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to operate in the state voluntarily.

Try answering this:

Q. Why the CBI is called as “a caged parrot speaking in its master’s voice”? Critically comment.

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 an 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 the power conferred by Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, the government can withdraw the general consent to exercise the powers and jurisdiction.

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.

Why such a move by the States?

  • 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 debatable political 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.

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 notice to the latter.

Back2Basics: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

  • Origins of CBI can be traced back to the Special Police Establishment (SPE) set up in 1941 in order to cases of bribery and corruption in War & Supply Department of India during World War II.
  • The need of a Central Government agency to investigate cases of bribery and corruption was felt even after the end of World War II.
  • So, DSPE (Delhi Special Police Establishment) Act, 1946 was brought that gave legal power of investigating cases to CBI.
  • CBI is not a statutory body as it is not established by an Act of the Parliament.
  • CBI investigates cases related to economic crimes, special crimes, cases of corruption and other high-profile cases.
  • CBI comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
  • CBI is exempted from Right to Information (RTI) Act similar to the National Investigating Agency (NIA), National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid), etc.

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Reforms police in India need

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Police reforms

The article highlights the challenges facing the police force in India and suggests the measures to deal with them.

Urgency of the police reforms

  • In a well-ordered democracy, the police are supposed to be a disciplined force trained to uphold the law and enforce the functioning of democracy on constitutional lines.
  • However, police in India suffers from a triad of malaises:
  • 1) The lack of sensitisation of police personnel.
  • 2) Absence of accountability.
  • 3) Politicisation of the police.

Objectives of the reforms:

1) Police sensitisation about their role in society

  • The sensitisation module should aim at bringing about attitudinal change in police — especially pertaining to gender and power relations and police behaviour.
  • There has to be promptness of action and decency of behaviour.
  • They need to be trained in body language and strictly advised to refrain from abusive behaviour.
  • It is necessary to increase public confidence in the police by upgrading levels of police service delivery as well as by investigating and acting in cases of police misconduct.

2) Increasing accountability

  • Public confidence in police decreases when the public perceives that police abuses are not investigated effectively.
  • Enhancing accountability will improve police legitimacy and increase public confidence, which, in turn, will reinforce the integrity of the system.
  • The Police Ombudsman of Northern Ireland, the Danish Independent Police Complaints Authority are some examples of mechanisms for accountability of the police for acts of abuse of power.

3) De-politicisation of the police

  • Linked to accountability is de-politicisation of the police force.
  • This is a must for the effective functioning of the country’s criminal justice system.
  • The police, as the custodian of maintenance of law and order, must stay away from agenda-driven politics.

Need to resolve the structural issues

In order to achieve the above-stated objectives, structural issues within the force must be given priority.

1) Vacancies and fair representation to women

  • According to a report by Common Cause in 2019, the Indian police force is at only 77 per cent of its sanctioned strength.
  • India has 144 police personnel for one lakh population and, in some states, the figure is less than 100.
  • One in every five posts sanctioned in the Indian Police Service remains vacant.
  • In low and middle-rank posts, the vacancies of 5.28 lakh personnel account for nearly one-fourth of the total sanctioned strength of over 22 lakh.
  • A fully-staffed police force would only increase India’s police-to-population ratio to 185 against the UN recommended ratio of 222.
  • The police-to-people ratio should be improved by at least 50 per cent to meet the challenges faced by the force.
  • Women are grossly underrepresented in our police force at less than 7 per cent of our total police strength.
  • With the increase in the number of gender crimes, it has become a necessity to augment the strength of police by recruiting more and more women police personnel.
  • The situation in Uttar Pradesh is the worst where police are at roughly 50 per cent of sanctioned strength.
  • When the numbers are inadequate, police personnel are stretched, leading to shoddy policing.

2) Lack of in-service training

  • The existing police personnel are also not adequately trained. Less than 7 per cent police get in-service training.
  • Gujarat scores the lowest, with less than one per cent having received any in-service training.

3) Implementation of guidelines and recommendations

  • After the National Police Commission in 1977, several committees were set up, including the Gore Committee, Padmanabhaiah Committee and Malimath Committee.
  • These commissions and committees have made far-reaching recommendations.
  • The top police leadership should be selected by apolitical representatives and an impartial body as suggested by Dharma Vira Commission have farsighted implications.
  • It was a strong antidote to opportunistic appointments and transfers.
  • Recommendations of the commission, if implemented, along with the Supreme Court directives of 2006 by Justice Sabharwal, in true letter and spirit, will go a long way in police reform.

4) Reforms in criminal justice system

  • Reforms in the criminal justice system and separation of law and order from investigation and prosecution are the other areas that need the attention of the authorities.
  • These aspects have been highlighted by many commissions and committees constituted by the Centre.

Consider the question “What are the challenges facing the police force in the country? Suggest the measures to deal with these challenges.”

Conclusion

A new role and new philosophy have to be defined for the police to not only make it a capable and effective body but also one accountable to the law of the land and to the people whom they serve.

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Still awaiting police reform

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Police reforms

The police have been in the news for incidents involving violence and killings. These instances points to the urgent need for the implementation of the Supreme Court directives given in the Prakash Singh case. The article deals with the issues of delay in the implementation.

Need for immediate remedial measures

  • Police has been in the news for incidents involving police brutalities like thrashing of a Dalit Ahirwar couple by the police Madhya Pradesh, torture and killing of father-son duo in Tamil Nadu and killing of gangster in UP.
  • These incidents and several others show that we need immediate remedial measures.

Past attempts for police reforms

  • The first serious attempt was when the National Police Commission (NPC) was set up in 1977.
  • The NPC submitted eight reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs between 1979 and 1981.
  • Seven of these reports were circulated to the States in 1983.

Prakash Sing Case

  • No action was taken on the reports of the reports until 1996.
  • In 1996 Prakash Singh, a retired IPS officer, filed a PIL in the apex court in 1996 demanding the implementation of the NPC’s recommendations.
  • In 2006, the Supreme Court issued a slew of directives on police reform.

Status of implementation of directives by Staes

  • The one directive that would hurt the most is the setting up of a State Security Commission (SSC) in each State.
  • State Security Commission would divest the political leaders of the unbridled power that they wield at present.
  • Of the States that constituted an SSC, only Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have made SSC recommendations binding on the State government.
  • Only six States provided a minimum tenure of two years to the Director General of Police (DGP).
  • Many States have not implemented a single directive of the Supreme Court.

Way forward

  • Expecting political will to implement police reforms is difficult to come by, it is for the judiciary to step in and enforce the directives it had passed.
  • Fourteen years is too long a period for any further relaxation.
  • The Court has to ensure that its directives are not dismissed lightly.

Consider the question “What are the issues facing police administration? What are the reasons for lack of full implementation of the directives given by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case?

Conclusion

A bold step towards bringing down crimes is possible only when the politicians-criminals-police nexus is strangled.

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What are ‘Chapter Proceedings’ by Police?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Chapter Proceedings

Mains level: Law and order maintenance

The Mumbai police last week began “chapter proceedings” against the Editor-in-Chief of a news channel.

Can you relate the philosophy behind chapter proceedings and preventive detention?

What exactly are “chapter proceedings”?

  • Chapter proceedings are preventive actions taken by the police if they fear that a particular person is likely to create trouble and disrupt the peace in society.
  • These proceedings are unlike punitive action taken in case of an FIR with an intention to punish.
  • Here, the police can issue notices under sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure that the person is aware that creating nuisance could result in action against him.

What are the sections using which these notices are served?

  • Generally, a notice is issued to a person under section 111 of the CrPC whereby he is asked to present himself before the Executive Magistrate – an ACP-rank officer in a Commissionerate of a Dy. the collector in rural areas – who has issued the notice.
  • The person has to explain why he should not be made to sign a bond of good behaviour.
  • If the Executive Magistrate is not satisfied with the answer, the person is asked to sign a bond of good behaviour and produce sureties vouching for his/her good behaviour.
  • A fine amount is also decided – in accordance with the crime and the person’s financial capability – which the person would have to pay if he violates the conditions set in the bond.

Legal immunities against such proceedings

  • On receiving the notice under section 111, a person can appeal the notice before the courts.
  • In fact, in the past, courts have come down strongly against chapter proceedings in some cases.

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A demarcation in the interest of public order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Separation of role of District Magistrate and Police Commissioner

The article analyses how could the duel role assigned to an official leads to the problems in certain situations and so suggest the separation of the roles.

Context

  • Delhi Police, having magisterial powers under the Criminal Procedure Code to take preventive action has been criticised for failing to maintain public order and prevent riots in Delhi.

Issue with delegation: Confusion powers with the role

  • The distinction between independent actions, for which no political clearance is needed, by the District Magistrate to maintain public order and by the police to investigate crime and make arrests, was ignored.
  • Maintaining public order requires the District Magistrate to make hard choices but there can be no justification for lack of effective police action.
  • The District Magistrate is expected to consider protest as legitimate.
  • In Delhi, the police did not distinguish between wider political support and violence caused by a few.

Distinction between “law and order” and “public order”

  • The Supreme Court has made a distinction between law and order, relating to individual crime, and public order.
  • Law and order consists of the analysis made by police of the situation in an area and their commitment to firm action and penalties under criminal law.
  • Public order is a duty imposed on the District Magistrate to assess whether it is necessary to rush to the spot where law and order has been breached to prevent violence.
  • The District Magistrate’s role is important in exceptional situations — for example, to prevent a breach of peace at a particular place.
  • If an official is allotted a dual role, this could lead to the displacement of one goal in favour of the other.

Supreme Court’s guidelines

  • The Supreme Court has formulated certain guidelines and rules when it comes to these distinct duties.
  • 1) In Ram Manohar Lohia vs. State of Bihar, in 1965, the Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the community or the public at large have to be affected by a particular action as it “embraces more of the community than ‘law and order’, which affects only a few individuals”.
  • 2) In the Madhu Limaye case, the Bench reiterated that “the emergency must be sudden and the consequences sufficiently grave” for imposition of restrictions.
  • 3) In Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that prohibitive orders should not prevent legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of democratic rights.
  • The Supreme Court has also specifically recognised the importance of the assessment of the role of the District Magistrate, distinct from that of the police.

Way forward

  • Judicial review of roles and proportionality of decisions for maintaining public order requires a policy rethink.
  • Prevention through grievance redress and reliance on the least blunt instruments are critical for legitimacy.
  • The National Police Commission also recognises the coordinating role of the District Magistrate, having more leverage than the police.

Conclusion

The role of the District Magistrate needs to be clearly differentiated from the role of the Police Commissioner.

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Breaking the politicians-criminals-bureaucrats nexus

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3- Police reforms and criminalisation of politics.

The root cause of impunity with which police perpetrated crimes lies in the in a nexus. The nexus between politicians, criminals and government functionaries needs to be broken down. This article suggests the ways to do that.

The context

  • The recent custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu and encounter of a criminal by the UP police showed the police in a bad light.
  • However, when we dig deeper into the problem we realise that its root lies in the nexus of politicians, criminals and the government functionaries.

Past attempt to break the nexus

  • In 1993, the Vohra Committee had submitted a report on the nexus between the criminals, politicians and government functionaries.
  • DIB suggested that an institution be set up to effectively deal with the menace.
  • There were discussions in parliament, but the matter ended there.
  • There was hardly any follow-up action.

Criminalisation of politics

  • The number of members of parliament with criminal background has been going up with every successive election.
  • It was, according to the Association of Democratic Reforms, 30 per cent in 2009, 34 per cent in 2014 and 43 per cent in 2019.
  • The present UP Assembly has 36 per cent or 143 MLAs with criminal cases against them.
  • This lead to the administration turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of the criminals.
  • The nexus has proliferated and grown in strength down the years.
  • It creates an environment where the criminals who are part of the nexus are able to dodge the due processes of law.

Suggestions

  • 1) We must have a law which debars persons with serious criminal cases from entering the assemblies and the Parliament.
  • 2) The criminal justice system must be revamped as recommended by the Malimath Committee.
  • 3) The Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms must be implemented.
  • 4) An institution comprising representatives of the police/CBI/NIA, IB, IT department, Revenue Intelligence and Enforcement Directorate should be set up to monitor the activities of the mafia and criminal syndicates in the country.
  • 5) A Central act on the lines of MCOCA should be enacted to curb the activities of organised criminal gangs.
  • 6) The concept of federal crime, as recommended by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, should be accepted.
  • Crimes with all-India ramifications or are trans-national in character, like those of terrorism and organised crimes, should be brought within the ambit of federal crimes.

Consider the question “The nexus of criminals, politicians and government functionaries is at the root of many problems the country faces today. Examine the problems created by the nexus and suggest ways to deal with the problem.”

Conclusion

We must, without further delay, build an environment where police become an instrument of service to the people, where monsters like Dubey do not thrive and become a menace to society.

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Policing the police

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 2- Illegalities by the police

Custodial deaths in Tamil Nadu and death of a criminal in UP has brought to the fore the issue of illegalities carried out by the police. This article discusses the ways in which people face such illegalities and need for the reforms.

Issue of illegalities by police

  • It is common practice in police stations to ignore the statute, laid down processes and Supreme Court guidelines.
  • So frequent is the brazen disobedience to the law that a lot of illegality seems to have morphed into accepted practice.

Following are the ways in which police illegalities are carried out

1) Custodial deaths

  •  The National Crime Records Bureau records 853 custodial deaths between 2010 to 2018.
  • At 1,636, the National Human Rights Commission puts the death figure much higher.
  • For this, just 3 policemen have been convicted.

2) Issues of encounters

  •  The Supreme Court is clear that in each encounter case, an FIR must be registered and the matter probed independently.
  • If false, an “encounter” is premeditated murder.
  • Encounter threaten the basis of the rule of law.

3) Avoiding registering complaint

  • Avoiding registration of complaint is the most common problem faced by the people.
  •  Even when the complaint is registered its magnitude is often diluted.
  • It is difficult for women, in particular, to get crimes registered.
  • So, in 2013, the law itself had to be changed.
  • Now a policeman who refuses to register a complaint of a sexual assault faces a two-year sentence.
  • The crime rate in India in 2018, it stood at 383.5 per 1,00,000 population.
  • By contrast, the crime rate in the US was over 2,500 per 1,00,000 .
  • This difference in crime rate highlights the reluctance by the police to registering crime.
  • This low crime rate on paper makes a fine excuse for governments to leave vacancies unfilled, go short on equipment and upgrades.
  • At 158, India’s police to population ratio which is police staff per 1,00,000 citizens, is one of the worst in the world. 

4) Detention without cause

  •  People with prior records form a pool of easy pickings, as do the powerless.
  •  Often it is because the local public wants a quick arrest and the police want a scapegoat.

5) Discrimination in arrest and investigation

  •  In the Tuticorin custodial murder, it took six days, the Madras High Court’s dogged intervention and a national hue and cry before six policemen could be arrested.
  • While police act swiftly in some cases, it goes soft against in other cases.

Mechanisms and Checks and balances

  • There are many checks and balances from taluka to the national level to avoid police transgressions.
  • Internally, there are disciplinary mechanisms.
  • Outside, there are the courts.
  • Every state has human rights commissions, special interest bodies like the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, women, and minorities commissions, and some have the police complaints authorities.
  • The Supreme Court’s clear directions coupled with the criminal code provide ample safeguards against excess.

Why these checks and balances fail

  • In real life, internal mechanisms are overindulgent of illegal behaviour, obscure and dilatory.
  • The first responder lower courts are constrained by capacity and circumstance.
  • Very few of the over one hundred guardian bodies dotted around the country work effectively

Issues with the Guardian bodies

  • Many bodies are without any functions and powers.
  • Others are deliberately left understaffed and under-resourced.
  • The Andhra Pradesh SHRC has no chairperson nor members.
  • Gujarat, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu SHRCs function with acting chairs.
  • The few institutions that have the power and resources restrain their own functioning through terminal timidity.

Consider the question “Issue of the illegalities by the police raises the question of guarding the guardians. Examine the ways in which police illegalities are manifested and suggest ways to deal with the issue.”

Conclusion

The number and regularity of heinous crimes by the police calls out for root and branch repair of the police and the many guardian agencies tasked with keeping them lawful.

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National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) signed MoU with NCRB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NATGRID, CCTNS, NCRB

Mains level: Police reforms

The National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) has signed an MoU with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) to access the centralised online database on FIRs and stolen vehicles. The MoU would enable the NATGRID to get information about details of a suspect as mentioned in the FIR such as his/her father’s name, telephone number and other details.

Practice question for mains:

Q.What is NATGRID? Discuss its role in facilitating criminal investigation and intelligence by various agencies.

About NATGRID

  • NATGRID initially started in 2009 is an online database for collating scattered pieces of information and putting them together on one platform.
  • It links intelligence and investigation agencies.
  • At least 10 Central government agencies, such as the Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing and others have access to the data on a secured platform.
  • NATGRID is exempted from the Right to Information Act, 2005 under sub-section (2) of Section 24.

Utility of NATGRID

  • The NATGRID enables multiple security and intelligence agencies to access a database related to immigration entry and exit, banking and telephone details, among others, from a common platform.
  • The 10 user agencies will be linked independently with certain databases which will be procured from 21 providing organisations including telecom, tax records, bank, immigration etc. to generate intelligence inputs.

Back2Basics: National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

  • The NCRB is a government agency responsible for collecting and analysing crime data as defined by the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Special and Local Laws (SLL).
  • NCRB is headquartered in New Delhi and is part of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
  • NCRB was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.
  • Mission: To Empower Indian Police with IT and criminal Intelligence to enable them to uphold the law and protect people & to provide leadership and excellence in crime analysis particularly for serious and organized crime.

Crime and Criminal Tracking Networks and Systems (CCTNS)

  • The CCTNS is a project for creating a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance.
  • The concept was first conceived in the year 2008 by the then Home Minister in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
  • The system includes a nationwide online tracking system by integrating more than 14,000 police stations across the country.
  • The project is implemented by NCRB.

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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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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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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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Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

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 Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

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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