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Synopsis: Despite Prakash Singh’s judgement on police reforms, the reforms largely remain on paper. Thus, this demands a closer and deeper analysis.
On September 22, 2006, in the historic Judgement in the Prakash Singh case, the Supreme Court gave significant direction for police reforms. If implemented, these can have a transformative effect on the functioning of the police in India. It is for this reason that September 22 needs to be celebrated as “Police Reforms Day”.
What are the challenges facing police reforms?
The biggest challenge is the public awareness of the issue. While there is huge public uproar for crimes like Rape, but soon the issue dies down and the root cause is never addressed. And if any attempts are made they are thwarted by the nexus of police bureaucrats politicians. Considering all these, SC in the Prakash Singh case had issued directions for police reforms.
What were the recommendations given by the Supreme Court?
Policy formulation: Security commissions at center and states for policy-making at both levels. This would protect police from political pressures.
Workload: The ‘Status of Police in India Report 2019’ (SPIR) by Common Cause, Lokniti pointed that police are overworked with average working hours of 14 hours per day. To reduce this burden, the SC recommended the separation of police and investigation functions.
Postings: Establishment Boards for unbiased postings, transfers, promotions and other matters regarding police officers. It involved UPSC for the selection of heads of state police forces.
Complaint authorities: “complaint authorities” has to be established at district and state levels for an impartial and independent inquiry into complaints of misconduct against police officers.
Despite such reforms coming directly from the Supreme Court, their implementation has been slow.
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What should be the way forward?
The politicians seek to maintain their hold on Police and also patronize the criminals. Thus, the best way forward would be to create public awareness to hold the elected representatives accountable for the implementation of police reforms.
Source: This post is based on “Creating citizen-centric police” published in The Indian Express on 22nd August 2021.