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Panel on Home affairs recommends steps for police reforms. Committee calls for 33% women police

Panel on Home affairs recommends steps for police reforms. Committee calls for 33% women police

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  • GS 3 || Security || Tackling Security Threats || Police

Why in news?

  • Recently, the Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs has tabled a report on Police- training, modernization, and reforms. The report highlights the number of reforms required and challenges faced by the Police forces.
    • The reportasked the Centre to advise states and Union Territories to create a road map for ensuring 33% representation of women in police while expressing anguish over their underrepresentation.

Responsibilities of centre and states

  • The Constitution provides for a legislative and executive division of powers between centre and states. With regard to police, some of the key matters regulated by centre and states are illustrated.
  • The state and central police forces have varied roles.
  • Local concerns such as crime prevention and investigation, as well as preserving peace and order, are generally handled by state police agencies. The central forces are specialized in dealing with such conflicts and provide the first response in cases of more extreme internal security difficulties (e.g., terrorist attacks or insurgency-related violence).
  • Article 252 of the Constitution gives Parliament the power to legislate for two or more States by consent and it lays down that such an Act shall apply to the consenting states and to any other states by which it is adopted through a resolution passed on that behalf by the House or, where there are two Houses, by each of the Houses of the legislature of that state.

Data related

  • Police account for about 3% of government spending. While state police forces are responsible for maintaining law and order and investigating crimes, central forces assist them with intelligence and internal security challenges (e.g., insurgencies). Expenditure on police accounts for about 3% of the central and state government budgets.
  • An overburdened police force State police forces had 24% vacancies in January 2016. United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons. 86% of the state police comprise the
  • Constables are typically promoted once during their service and normally retire as head constables. This could weaken their incentive to perform well.
  • Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015). However, convictions have been low. In 2015, convictions were secured in 47% of the cases registered under the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The Law Commission has observed that one of the reasons behind this is the poor quality of investigations.

Need for reforms

  • Factors responsible for police and criminal crimes that evade the criminal justice system range from their political connections to police inefficiency.
    • This can also be expressed in the report of the Vohra Committee, which highlighted the connection between the functionaries of offenders, politicians, and government.
    • It claimed that the mafia network operates a parallel government, pushing the state apparatus to irrelevance, and suggested setting up an institution to deal effectively with the threat.
  • Political interference- The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) has noted that this control has been abused in the past by the political executive to unduly influence police personnel, and have them serve personal or political interests.
  • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that this power be limited to promoting professional efficiency and ensuring that police are acting in accordance with the law.
  • The Supreme Court issued its judgment in 2006, ordering the centre and states to set up authorities to lay down guidelines for police functioning, evaluate police performance, decide on postings and transfers, and receive complaints of police misconduct.
    • The court also required that minimum tenure of service be guaranteed to key police officers to protect them from arbitrary transfers and postings.
  • Vacancies
    • Currently there are significant vacancies(24% ) within the state police forces and some of the central armed police forces
    • The UN recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons, India’s sanctioned strength is 181 police per lakh persons.
    • The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that one way to reduce the burden of the police forces could be to outsource or redistribute some non-core police functions (such as traffic management, disaster rescue and relief, and issuing of court summons) to government departments or private agencies.
  • Need to decriminalize politics- There is also a need to decriminalize politics and carry out a variety of changes in the criminal justice system, including the changes of the police.
  • Instilling confidence of the people- To instill the confidence of the people in the institution of police by making police more people-friendly.
  • To meet the democratic aspirations-the archaic police structure continues is not able to meet the democratic aspirations of the people. In recent times, we saw the unseemly spectacle of the Mumbai police. The police commissioner accused 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 state ruling party’s attack on those who voted against their party. The Centre, through a fiat, gave protection to all the MLAs of its party.
  • Lack of uniformity- greater uniformity was observed in colonial times for better policing. The Police Act legislated in 1861 applied to almost the whole of India.

Way forward

  • Model Police Act,2006 – The Government of India should have enacted a law based on the Model Police Act,2006 with such changes as it may have found necessary, and the states should have mutatis mutandis adopted it. That would have ensured a uniform police structure across the country. Several states have, in the absence of any central guidance or directive, passed their own Police Acts, blatantly violating the Supreme Court’s directions.
  • The Supreme Court has, for inexplicable reasons, not issued a contempt notice to any of the states for non-compliance with its directions on police reforms.
  • The least that the Government of India could do is to legislate for the UTs and then prevailed upon the states where its party was in power to pass similar legislation. That way, we would achieve some uniformity in 10 to 12 states.
  • Enacting a similar law in the other states could have been incentivized by linking their passage with the modernization grants made available to the states.
  • Following Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India In 1996-The Supreme Court issued its judgment in 2006, ordering the centre and states to set up authorities to lay down guidelines for police functioning, evaluate police performance, decide on postings and transfers, and receive complaints of police misconduct.
    • The court also ruled out that minimum tenure of service be guaranteed to key police officers to protect them from arbitrary transfers and posting

Conclusion

  • Police’s concerns are the result of Indian political and social setup limitations. Police improvements are also required and the police department is expected to follow best practices. Aside from this, there is a need to create an ecosystem without further delay where the police are an instrument of service to the people.

Mains model Question

  • Discuss the One Nation One Police concept. Comment on why India needs urgent police reforms?

References