[Answered] Discuss the need and significance of police reforms in the recent context of rise in crime.

Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss various Issues related to police forces in India. Mention various committees related to police reforms. Conclusion. Way forward.

The past decade has witnessed a rise in crime statistics in India. The 2018 statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reveals a 1.3% increase in crime. With the changing world, police and law and order challenges are increasing day by day. Change in nature of crime with threats of cyber-crime, suicide bombings, and outdated police force need modernisation. More trained staff and new technological investigating methods are needed for the hour.

Need and significance of police reforms:

  1. Low police-to-population ratio: The global average ratio of police-population is 270 to 100,000, where it’s 120 in India. With far less police –ill-equipped and most of them posted to protect the political representatives, people of India are the least secured people on the globe.
  2. Corruption: In 2016, the vigilance department had conducted 55% more inquiries against its men. A Delhi Police survey found 34% of the cops to be corrupt in 2015, down from 66% in 2014.
  3. Changing nature of crime: The recent social and technological changes fuelled by the internet and the new social media are fast changing the nature, intensity and the reach of crime leading to unprecedented lawlessness and frightening dimensions of global terrorism.
  4. Police misconduct: The lack of effective accountability mechanisms and periodic review of performance has misplaced the public’s confidence in the police. Recent attack on police by mob indicates citizens losing trust in police.
  5. Lack of technological capabilities: One of the reasons for low conviction rates in India is poor quality of investigation by police. Police lack modern technological capabilities necessary to perform quality investigations.
  6. Insensitive: Representation of women and depressed caste is low which makes them insensitive towards them. Escalating violence resulting from caste conflicts including the most recent Dalit uprising, farmers woes across the country.
  7. Overburdened: Apart from the core function of maintaining law and order, police personnel carry out various other functions such as traffic management, disaster rescue and removal of encroachments. These extra obligations lead to overburdening of the police force which have negative consequences on their efficiency and performance.

Various committees on police reforms:

Gore committee, 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 Its major recommendations were centred on the problem of insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference.
Padmanabhaiah Committee In 2000, the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms was constituted to study, inter alia, recruitment procedures for the police force, training, duties and responsibilities, police officers’ behaviour, police investigations and prosecution.
Soli Sorabjee Committee The Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC or Soli Sorabjee Committee) drafted a new model police bill to replace the colonial 1861 Police Act.
2nd ARC The ARC recommended separation of crime investigation from other police functions i.e. maintenance of law and order, establishment of state police boards, welfare and grievances redressal mechanisms for police personnel.
Supreme Court guidelines 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 the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police.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 of 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 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.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.It also suggested moving police as well as public order to the Concurrent List.

Way forward:

  1. Strengthening Criminal Justice System: There is an urgent need to strengthen our Criminal Justice System and our grassroots level policing institutions to prepare our police to deal with the present and emerging challenges and strengthen its investigative capabilities and emergency response infrastructure.
  2. Focusing lower-level officers: The overall functioning of lower-level officers can be boosted by better training, better pay and allowances and by creating a system that rewards initiative and positive action instead of negative behaviour.
  3. Independent Complaints Authority: There is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into cases of police misconduct. States should have specialised investigation units within the police force for better investigation of crimes.
  4. Gender sensitive: Police should be made more gender sensitive. 33% women reservation in police should be implemented
  5. Political will: There is a need for broader political will about the need for police reform. Some states like Kerala and Telangana have tried to take the process forward.

State police forces are primarily in charge of local issues such as crime prevention and investigation, and maintaining law and order. Police forces need to adopt modern methods like forensics, data analysis etc. to ensure timely justice.

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