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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The police force is an important part of the legal system in India. Their primary duty is to maintain the law and order in every state
  • There are a number of laws enacted by the Government for the administration of the police system.
  • The Code of Criminal Procedure gives the police certain crucial powers, rights, and duties.
  • Further, the Central Government had also constituted several committees and commissions to provide advice on reforming the police system.
  • One such committee is the Padmanabhaiah Committee set up in 2000 to provide suggestions on a wide range of issues covering police reforms.
  • The Article makes an analysis of the recommendations provided by this Committee.

INTRODUCTION

The scheme of punishing an offender has two effects. One, it prevents the offender from repeating his wrong actions in future, and two, it exhibits a deterrent effect, that is, it prevents others from committing similar offences. Thus, punishment plays a considerable role in upholding the legal system. There are different theories attributed towards punishment, and there are several kinds of punishment too. Punishment emphasizes on reforming criminals to make them realise their wrongs. When we talk about punishment, we also realise how important it is to prevent the commission of crimes. In this context, it is crucial to know about the police force that is instrumental in preventing and detecting offences. Each State Government has its own police force which is enrolled formally. The role of police is significant in strengthening our legal system because it is the prime department on which we rely upon, for initialization our fight towards justice. Reforming the police system timely would help us in not only revolutionizing the police department but also in effectively uplifting the legal system.

POLICE LAWS IN INDIA

  • The Police Act, 1861

This Act gives the overall administration of the police in India. It mandates the State Governments to establish their own police force. It would be administered by the Director General of India at the State level, and the District Superintendent of Police at the District level.

  • The Police Act, 1888

Under this Act, the Central Government is authorised to create a special police district covering parts of two or more states. It can also extend to every part of such district, the power and jurisdiction of a police force.

  • The Police Act, 1949

This Act enables the creation of a police force for the Union Territories, in the same manner as specified in the Police Act, 1861.

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973

The Code does not provide for the creation of police force, but rather assumes its existence. The Code just focusses on empowering them with relevant powers and giving them certain duties.

POLICE REFORMS IN INDIA

Police reforms aim at revolutionizing and modifying the practices and policies in the police departments. It amends their rights and duties to make them more responsible towards the upliftment of law and justice. With effective police reforms, our country will have a more strong security system which can help in efficient functioning of the legal system.

The list of Important Committees/Commissions on Police reforms is given below:

1) The National Police Commission (1977)

The National Police Commission, which was constituted in 1977, gave as many as eight recommendations between 1979 and1981. It studied about thepolice system and the problems therein. The key recommendations include establishment of State Security Commissions; proper and competitive selection of the Director General of Police; proper selection of the Anti-Corruption Bureau Chief; replacement of the Police Act, 1861, etc.

2) Riberio Committee (1998)

The Government had constituted this committee following the guidelines of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs. Union of India and other cases. The Committee chaired by Retd. IPS Officer J. F. Riberio,submitted two reports.

3) Padmanabhaiah Committee (2000)

In 2000, the Central Government had set up a committee under the chairmanship of K. Padmanabhaiah to study and suggest reforms to amend and modify the police organization. The Committee put forth a number of recommendations to restructure the police departments to make it consistent with the changing world. The recommendations have been explained below.

4) Malimath Committee (2003)

The Committee, formed in 2000, was headed by Dr. (Justice) V. S. Malimath to recommend on remolding the criminal system in India. The Committee made more than 150 recommendations that were submitted by it in April 2003. These recommendations include strengthening of training infrastructure, enactment of new Police Act, improve investigations by creating more posts, setting up of State Security Commission, etc.

5) Review Committee (2004)

The Ministry of Home Affairs had set up this Review Committee to examine on the status of the implementation of the recommendations made by different committees and commissions. The Committee shortlisted 49 recommendations as being crucial, to reform the police organization, as well as the criminal justice system. These include stressing on security systems, enhancing and strengthening recruitment and trainings, improving professional conduct and etiquette, addressing complaints against police effectively, etc.

6) Supreme Court guidelines (2006)

In the landmark case of Prakash Singh vs. Union of India (2006), the Supreme Court had issues some guidelines with respect to the setting up of the police system, and directed the Union and State Governments to modify the structure in accordance with the judgement.

7) Expert Committee (2006)

Since most of the previous committees recommended to replace the Police Act, 1861, the Home Ministry Department constituted an Expert Committee to examine the same. It was also directed to draft a Model Police Act which was submitted in 2006. The Model Police Act was characterized by several features. One among them is the enactment of an effective, efficient, responsible, professional police service.

8) Madhav Menon Committee (2007)

The Committee submitted its report on reforming Criminal Justice System in 2007. It suggested the establishment of a separate authority at the national level to deal with offences threatening the country’s security.

THE PADMANABHAIAH COMMITTEE (2000)

K. Padmanabhaiah was born in 1938 in Andhra Pradesh. He completed his Masters in Science (M. Sc.) and Management Studies, and entered the Indian Administrative Service in 1961. After having served the Indian Government, he retired from the civil service. After his retirement, Padmanabhaiah headed the Police reforms Committee set up by the Indian Government in 2000.
The Padmanabhaiah Committee submitted its 270-page Report within the stipulated time limit of 3 months. In the report, it made several important recommendations. Some of the important ones are summarised below:

  • On Recruitment:

1) To recruit more Sub-inspectors than constables. The recruitment to constabulary should be restricted to a ratio of 1:4.
2) The selection criteria for constables should be young. Boys and girls, below the age of 19 years, who have passed 10th standard, should be made eligible to appear for the qualifying exam. Before recruitment, a minimum of two years of rigorous training should be provided.
3) The selection criteria for Sub-inspectors should also be young. Those who have passed their 12th standard and are below 21 years of age should be made eligible for appearing in the qualifying exam. These candidates, having cleared the exam, must be given a rigorous training of 3 years. It is also recommended that 50% of seats reserved for Sub-inspectors should be filled by direct recruitment, whereas the remaining 50% by promotion.
4) Officers should be made eligible for promotions only if they pass the promotional exams and undergo mandatory training programmes.
5) Specialisations in the police department should be encouraged by recruiting more experts.
6) The upper limit for recruitment in the Indian Police Service (IPS) cadre should be 24 years, and candidates from states having low recruitment numbers should be encouraged and trained.

  • Establishment of New Offices

1) A Police Training Advisory Council should be set up at the national and state level to advise the Home Ministry on training matters.
2) An office for National Counter Terrorism Coordinator should be established to prepare a detailed counter-terrorism plan and budget.
3) There should be a statutory independent Inspectorate of Police to inspect on the functioning of the police force and to report to the State Government whether it is efficient and effective.
4) Setting up of a Permanent National Commission for Policing Standards to lay down norms and standards for all police forces on matters of common concern and to see that that the State Governments set up measures to enforce such standards and norms.
5) A non-Statutory District Police Complaints Authority (DPCA) should also be established to investigate the public complaints. The District Magistrate (DM) should be made the Chairman and a Senior Additional Sessions Judge, the District Superintendent of Police and an eminent citizen nominated by the DM as members.
6) There should be a permanent National Commission for Police Standards and (NCPs) to set standards and to see that State Governments set up mechanisms to enforce such standards.
7) There should be a Special Crime Prevention Cell under the mentorship of experts who have specialised in the field.

  • Conduct of the Police

1) The police authorities should be fair, effective, and impartial when investigating cases.
2) The police should be given more responsibilities and their activities should not be curtailed unless barred by law or unless they are irrelevant to the maintenance of law and order. Generally, their duties should be expanding in nature.
3) The police force should be trained on professional behaviour and etiquette.

  • Other reformatory measures

1) Replacement of the Police Act, 1861.
2) To build up the police infrastructure by constructing/modernizing police stations, police networking, basic facilities, travelling facilities, etc.
3) To instill the principle of community policing among the Indian Police by proper training and allocation of funds.
4) The Committee also gave suggestions on the tenure period of officers.
5) It was also recommended that effective and serious enforcement of the Code is necessary to prevent corrupt practices within the police departments.
6) The police leadership, through proper manpower and career planning, improved training, effective supervision and by inculcating a sense of values amongst the members of the force, can play an important role in encouraging specialisation, promoting professionalism and increasing morale in the force.

Analysis of the Report:

The report has extensively covered all the major areas of the police organization. Most of its recommendations seem inevitable for the proper and smooth functioning of the police force. The basis of an effective authority lies in its recruitment process. The Committee has provided a detailed proposal on the same for different posts. However, one of its suggestions to keep the age limit for IPS officers to 24, is not agreeable because that will lead to a decline in the number of qualified police officers in the service. Despite such minor misgivings, the overall work of the Committee is commendable. The Committee was authorised to look into around more than 10 of the crucial areas of police reforms within a span of three months. Despite the time constraints, the Committee did manage to cover every aspect with some depths. However, more time could have given to it for even more effective analysis. In brief, the suggestions on the recruitment process, the conduct of the police, the need for more infrastructures, and the establishment of new offices are crucial to look into for reforming the police system in India.

EFFECT ON THE LEGAL SYSTEM

Imagine you have been made a victim of a certain crime or some of your rights or interests have been affected by the commission of an offence, what would you do next? What does the Indian law says? It necessitates us to lodge a complaint in the nearest police station within the jurisdiction limits. Even if the law allows us to file a complaint before a Magistrate, the Magistrate cannot investigate the matter. He would direct the police, having jurisdiction of the case, to investigate into the matter further. Fair trial, investigation, and inquiry are crucial for compensating the victim, and punishing the wrongdoer. Conducting fair proceedings is not just the duty of Courts, but there is a chain of authorities involved in the trial procedures, including the public. The police force plays a prominent role in the entire proceeding. Therefore, reforming and revolutionizing the police organization is a mandatory requirement that the Government must consider working on.

Pros

The Padmanabhaiah Committee undoubtedly gave one of the best recommendations on police reforms. Besides reforming the police sector, the Committee also recommends to reform the entire criminal justice system. This is essential because amending the criminal justice system can help the legal fraternity to form laws consistent with the changing trends which may, in turn, transform the role of police in the State. While looking into the recommendations, those given regarding their conduct and professionalism occupies special place. This is because when regulatory measures are made stricter, it tends to make them more impartial and sincere. Moreover, emphasize on specialisations is a welcoming step. Similarly, recruiting young officers to the cadre can give us a more active and energetic workforce. The Committee also suggested on reviewing the cognizable and non-cognizable offences which is also worth noting. It further gave a new dimension to inter-state disputes and other important recommendations include setting up of Councils and Commissions to make effective investigations, to prevent crimes, to combat terrorism and lay standards for proper conduct.

Cons

Similarly, one of the recommendations is to delete Sections 25 and 26 from the Indian Evidence Act. These Sections state that a confession made to a police or while in police custody is admissible as an evidence. The object is simple. It is to prevent prejudice towards the accused. It is possible that the accused might have given his confessions under pressure or custodial torture. Therefore, the same cannot be accepted as evidence by courts. The recommendation of the Committee, in this regard, as stated above, though would seem reduce the delay in collecting evidence, but at the same time, it will give scope to undue influences. It is still a concern to make the police departments less corruptive, even the Committee has provided recommendations therefor. So, it is not correct to completely remove these Sections.
In all, the Committee recommendations are more encouraging in terms of aiding the legal system. The State Governments must consider these suggestions and the same must be implemented effectively.

CONCLUSION

The role of police in the criminal justice system and maintenance of law and order is significant. Their effective participation is a must to put criminals behind the bars. However, in our country, the Government is not actively taking steps to work on this. It is high time to reform the police organizations. Besides empowering them with more powers and rights, it is also important that they are monitored to carry out their duties properly. Such officers, who are expected to work restlessly for the public peace, must also be provided with the necessary infrastructure, facilities, security, and incentives. The recommendations of the Committee have touched upon every preliminary aspect of the police reforms. Therefore, the Government must consider these as well as the recommendations of other committees to make a well-organized and systematic police system in India.


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