The good cop 

Context: There have been the National Police Commission, the Ribeiro and Padmanabhaiah committees, and other commissions which directly alluded to police reforms. In addition, the Malimath Committee and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission indirectly expressed requirements for police reforms. The Supreme Court acknowledged the requirement of police reforms in Prakash Singh judgment of 2006 

Structural control over police machinery 

Constitutional Provisions 

The State List has public order and police.  

The Union List mentions the armed forces of the Union, CBI and some reasons for preventive detention.  

The Concurrent List mentions to deal with criminal law and procedure and some reasons for preventive detention.  

Centre-State Aspect 

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has Police-I Division and Police-II Division. The latter one is responsible for controlling the central armed police forces 

What are the issues in Indian policing machinery? 

It involves corruptions like a police officer may brush up a case on payment of his terms like presents from parties. 

The police officers threaten and bully suspects and innocent persons to give information they are supposed to possess.  

The police officer instead of working like a detective procure confessions by improper inducement, by threats and by moral pressure. 

Measures Taken So Far 

In Prakash Singh Guidelines 2006, the court’s gave directives in seven domains to induce transparency and reduce discretion which are desirable for improving police efficiency. There are: (1) State security commissions; (2) the appointment and tenure of DGPs; (3) the tenure of other police officers; (4) the separation of investigation from law and order; (5) police establishment boards for transfers, postings and promotions; (6) police complaints authorities; and (7) the National Security Commission. Subsequently, a draft Model Police Act was framed in 2006.  

So far almost all states have complied with the seven directives of the Supreme Court issued in Prakash Singh Case.  

Recently, the Central Government has reviewed the Model Police Act, 2006. Accordingly, a draft Model Police Bill, 2015 has been prepared and placed on the website of BPR&D. 

What are the issues which still persist in the police department even after implementation of the directives? 

Compliance has remained in the letter of the law, not in the spirit. For instance, the composition, powers and other aspects of the State Security Commission do not comply with the directives in spirit. Same is the case with other six directives as well.  

Meanwhile, the structure varies across states. This concern was highlighted by the Police Commissions of 1860 and 1902-03. This has not improved till 2022. This results into inefficiency 

States often readily request the central armed police forces whenever there is a problem.  

In tracking compliance in letter and spirit across states, it was found that there was no state which was fully compliant with the seven directives.  

Way Forward  

As ‘police’ is a state subject, therefore, the primary responsibility to formulate a new Police Act or amend their existing Act on the lines of the draft Model Police Bill prepared by the Central Government lies in the hands of the state government.  

In 2016, the Niti Aayog published a paper on building smart police. It suggested moving police to the Concurrent List 

However, the State List entry (related to police) should not be moved to the Concurrent List alone. It will be perceived as hampering rights of States and interpreted as greater centralisation. Therefore, the central government should go for a complete overhaul of the Seventh Schedule.  

Now the pandemic is out of the way, it is necessary to bring police reforms back on the agenda. The country deserves to move on from 1861. 

Source: The post is based on an article “The good cop” published in the Indian Express on 12th May 2022. 

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