Police Reforms – SC directives, NPC, other committees reports

Jul, 11, 2019

[pib] Witness Protection Scheme

News

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

Witness Protection Scheme

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

Other Provisions of the scheme

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

Proposed Rights to be entitled to the Witness

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

About Witness Protection Fund

  • The Scheme provides for a State Witness Protection Fund for meeting the expenses of the scheme.
  • This fund shall be operated by the Department/Ministry of Home under State/UT Government and shall comprise of the following:
  1. Budgetary  allocation  made  in  the  Annual  Budget  by  the State Government;
  2. Receipt of amount of costs imposed/ ordered to be deposited by the courts/tribunals in the Witness Protection Fund;
  3. Donations/ contributions from Philanthropist/ Charitable Institutions/ Organizations   and individuals permitted by the Government.
  4. Funds contributed under Corporate Social Responsibility.
Jul, 10, 2019

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

News

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

What is automated facial recognition?

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

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

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

What does the NCRB request call for?

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

Why need AFRS?

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

Integration of databases

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

What are the concerns around using facial recognition?

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

Back2Basics

CCTNS

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

How far has CCTNS progressed?

  • The Rs 2,000-crore project is accessible to the CBI, IB, NIA, ED and the Narcotics Control Bureau.
  • The project did not meet its initial 2015 deadline and was extended to March 2017.
  • In August 2018, the first phase of connecting the police stations was nearly complete.
  • In the second phase, the Home Ministry proposed integrating the database with the fingerprint database of the Central Finger Print Bureau (CFPB).
  • NCRB is currently rolling out the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) and its integration with CCTNS.
Jun, 26, 2019

[op-ed snap] The state of Indian prisons

CONTEXT

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

Background

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

Data released

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

Findings of Reports 

1.Missing data on religion and caste –

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

2.Rise under preventive detention –

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

3.Data on prisoner release

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

Law Commission’s recommendations –

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

 

4.Mental health concerns

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

Way Forward

  • All things considered, the report has important information which can be used to facilitate a dialogue on improving prison policies.
  • But these conversations will be limited and the public’s right to know about the functioning of the criminal justice system thwarted if critical information is delayed inordinately or withheld without credible reason.
  • The NCRB’s apparent reluctance to be prompt and open about its prison statistics does not bode well for the democratic discourse in India.
Jun, 05, 2019

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

News

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

Background

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

General Consent

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

When is Consent needed?

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

What does withdrawal mean?

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

Under what provision has general consent been withdrawn?

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Remedies for CBI

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

What happens in Fresh Cases?

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

Mere out of fear of Political Misuse

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

Back2Basics

Central Bureau of Investigation: Composition, Functions

Apr, 25, 2019

[op-ed snap] Just recompense

CONTEXT

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

Compensation to victim

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

Judgement by the court in Bilkis Bano Case

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

Background of the case

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

Existing provision  on Victim Compensation

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

Conclusion

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

 

Mar, 01, 2019

[op-ed snap] A law for the CBI

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing much

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


NEWS

CONTEXT

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

Need to make a law for CBI

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

Other Instances

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

Conclusion

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

Feb, 25, 2019

[pib] All India Citizens Survey of Police Services

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the Survey

Mains level: Policing Reforms


News

All India Citizens Survey of Police Services

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

Aims and Objectives

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

Conduct of the Survey

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

Expected Outcomes

  • The outcome of the survey is expected to bring out useful suggestions for stakeholders in formulating and implementing appropriate policy responses.
  • It will imbibe changes in the functioning of police at the cutting edge and for improve crime prevention and investigation.
  • It will cater to transformation in community policing, improvement in the access to the justice and increased/ appropriate resource allocation for police in a systematic manner.
Dec, 20, 2018

[op-ed snap] Policeman, train thyself

Note4students

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

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Intelligence Bureau

Mains level: The urgent need for police reforms in India


Context

Police officials meet

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

Acoountability in question

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

What can police officers do for reforming the system?

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

Way forward

  1. Above all this, the senior management needs to re-imagine the police not in the colonial image that requires them to cling to power rather than principle but as a law-upholding service that creates an environment within which each one of us and indeed each individual police person can enjoy his or her fundamental rights to the fullest
Nov, 20, 2018

Explained: Why CBI needs consent

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Everything about CBI

Mains level: Issues surrounding CBI and its mandate.


News

Background

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

General Consent

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

When is Consent needed?

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

What does withdrawal mean?

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

Under what provision has general consent been withdrawn?

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Remedies for CBI

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

What happens in Fresh Cases?

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

Mere out of fear of Political Misuse

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

Back2Basics

Central Bureau of Investigations

Please navigate to this page for further readings on CBI:

Central Bureau of Investigation: Composition, Functions

Oct, 23, 2018

[op-ed snap] Ripe for prison reform

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Need for prison reforms in India


Context

Committee for prison reforms

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

Need for prison reforms

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

Prison overcrowding

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

Reducing civil prisoners

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

Way forward

  1. Incarceration in any form is uncivilised, especially when it is so long-drawn-out, and when the objective of criminal punishment should be one of reform rather than wreaking vengeance on a perpetrator of crime
  2. Work should be initiated for model prisons, where inmates are accommodated with due regard to their basic human needs and are handled with dignity
Oct, 08, 2018

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


Context

Crime data reporting 

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

Changes proposed by NCRB in crime data collection

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

Filing of crimes essential

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

Law vs Economic wisdom

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

Making police more efficient

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

Further disaggregation of data

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

Way Forward

  1. Social conditions and structures shape individuals, which show that those designated as criminals are not born but made so by society
  2. An accurate record of perpetrators and victims concerning the nature of crime and punishment is rightly recognised as an attribute of a civilised state
  3. Better crime control statistics will not only be a tool for effecient policing but also an instrument of efficacious social policy and constitutional transformation of the Indian criminal justice system
Sep, 17, 2018

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Dial FIR Scheme, Criminal Data Dossier

Mains level: Policing Reforms through technology initiatives


News

Dial FIR Scheme

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

Online Dossier of Criminals

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

Why such move?

  1. UP Police were getting almost 20,000 events every day over UP 100 (police emergency number) on call.
  2. Everything that is reported to U.P. 100 relates to certain categories of crime that includes cases like those of vehicle theft.
  3. For such crimes, one can dial the emergency number and file an FIR, a call-based FIR.
  4. This will be like a regular FIR, under similar sections of IPC, and people need not come to the police station to get a case registered.
Aug, 23, 2018

[op-ed snap] People police

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


Context

Ensuring peace & obeying of law

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

Role of police

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

Policing in India

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

Why no changes?

The system’s persistence can be attributed to:

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

Failure of government strategy

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

What needs to be done?

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

Way forward

  1. With 356 million people in the 10-24 years age group, a proactive police engaging an interconnected, volatile and youthful population through community policing programmes is perhaps the only hope for enduring peace and lasting order
Jul, 05, 2018

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

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


Context

SC directives on police reforms

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

Defining a process for the appointment of DGPs

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

The concept of SMART police

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

Current status on implementation of SC directives

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

Way forward

  1. According to a recent estimate, crime, terrorism and external threats take a huge toll on economic growth and that these cost India 9 percent of its GDP, which is a very high figure
  2. If India is to achieve its status as a great power, it is absolutely essential that police is restructured and modernized
  3. Development needs solid foundations of good law and order
  4. It is high time that GoI consider bringing the police into the “concurrent list” of the Constitution
Jan, 06, 2018

[op-ed snap] Enabling a law

Image Source

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

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


News

SC’s direction on providing public facilities to the disables

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

Background of the issue

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

What should be done?
On travel requirements of the disables

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

Is cost a hurdle?

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