URGENT NEED OF POLICE REFORMS IN INDIA
Police is a matter governed by state governments, under the Constitution. Hence each one of the 29 states does have its own police forces. The center is also authorized to operate its own police forces to support states in maintaining law and order. Thus, it operates seven regional police forces and several other police departments for specialized tasks such as collecting intelligence, investigating, studying and records management, and training.
Police forces have a key role in maintaining and executing laws, prosecuting crimes and providing security for the country’s citizens. For a big and populated nation like india, police departments must be well-equipped to perform their function well in terms of manpower, weapons, forensic support, communication and transport.
With hundreds of millions of angry American people out on the streets protesting a white police officer ‘s murder of a black person, it would be more than time we, in India, were awakening to the desperate need for police reform in our nation. – Even though most of us (privileged Indians) have little trouble with the police, the weakest Indians — especially minorities such as Dalits, Muslims, adivasis and many others — often suffer tremendously, and sometimes violently, from the hands of police officers.
Having said all that, it is essential to understand that, generally speaking, the police themselves operate under immense strain, are badly paid, have miserable working conditions in general, and, most of all, are usually bound by incompetent and corrupt superiors. To be sure, as with the rest of us, many policemen bear prejudices — hidden and not-so-hidden — which make their performance unequal and unjust. Yet each of them, as people, is nothing bad or better than all of us.
Problems to Face
The current police force is suffering from a variety of shortcomings. Police force in the country is not in a good condition, ranging from issues related to police administration, facilities and climate to outdated weapons and intelligence collection methods to manpower shortages to corruption.
Recently published by the Common Cause and Center for the Study of Emerging Societies; the State of Police in India Report 2019 highlighted the police’s inadequacies and poor working conditions. The study is based on a sample of nearly 12,000 police officers and another 10,595 family members from 21 states.
Based on a study undertaken by the National Productivity Council, the National Police Department had estimated as far back as 1979 that the local police officers’ operating hours ranged from 10 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week. The Commission further claimed that “long and frustrating hours of duty lacking relaxation; and leisure facilities, constant employment on jobs under severe stress and pressure circumstances, mental as well as physical … Everyone had a telling effect on the constabulary ‘s morale around the country. The Commission underlined the need to tackle “significant deficiencies in their poor working and living conditions”
A few problems in the present police working system and condition that urgently need reforms are:-
Overburden on the police force
India had 131 police officers per 1,00,000 people (in 2017); that really is lower than the number that was approved (181), and also much lesser than the number suggested by the UN (222). Clearly, “an ordinary policeman ends up with a large workload and working hours, which affects his productivity and results adversely.”
Add to that same terrible working conditions and remuneration and our police are just as motivated as they are, in fact, to be respectable.
The Second Administrative Reforms Commission further stated that constables’ promotion prospects and workplace conditions are low, and need to be improved.Generally speaking, an Indian constable can expect only one promotion in his lifetime, and usually retire as a senior constable, which destroys his motivation to do well.
This structure seems to be in contrast to that in the United Kingdom, where police officers usually begin as constables and advance in order through each rank. In India, however, superiors often hire constables as orders to do domestic work, eroding their morale; and enthusiasm and distracting them from their core police work.
Only 77 per cent of all its sanctioned strength works by force. The fact that it does not receive inservice training further handicaps this inadequate strength. Just 6.4 per cent of police will undergo such training over the last five years. The question is compounded by a shortage of money.
The constabulary makes up 86 percent of the state police department. The duties of a constable are broad, and therefore are not limited to basic tasks. A constable is required, for example, to practice his own judgment in activities such as intelligence gathering and monitoring work, and report important changes to his superior officers.
The Padmanabhaiah Committee as well as the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that; they are not eligible for their position by the entry level qualifications (i.e. completion of class 10th or 12th in several states) and constables training. One of the suggestions made in this regard was to increase the entry level to Class 12th or graduation in the civil police.
It was also suggested that constables, and the police force in total, be given more training in soft skills (such as communication, therapy, and leadership); because they need to communicate regularly with the public.
Poor housing facility
Expert bodies such as the National Police Commission have also stressed the importance of providing housing to the constabulary; (and, in general, to the police force) to enhance their productivity and the opportunity to accept remote posts. This is because private housing may not be easily accessible on rent in rural and remote communities.
The houses provided by the department to such constabulary are very small in size to cater the need of their family. Bad condition of washroom and difficulty in access to drinking water is a major problem.
Poor equipments provided
According to the survey, 70 police stations in 20 states seemed to have no wireless access; 214 police stations had no telephone access and 24 police stations have neither the wireless nor telephone access. Transportation services are sadly insufficient. There are 240 police stations which do not have vehicle access. According to 42 per cent of staff, forensic equipment is rarely accessible at police station.
Likewise, police’ weaponry still uses outmoded and obsolete weapons when it comes to armaments. In its report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) also stressed that the force appears to rely on obsolete; and unserviceable weapons.The CAG study attributed this to the inefficient method of purchasing guns from ordnance factories.
Policing mobility is another problem that has been affected by police equipment shortages. The CAG stated very little increase in vehicle availability, and also a lack of drivers. This interferes with the swiftness of action and tends to increase police response time.
Superintendence and Control of Police
Superintendence and police supervision is a disputable problem. According to police regulations, both the Federal and State police forces are under the superintendence and supervision of the executives. It has contributed to a lack of democratic governance and a lack of clear course. Police priorities are often altered driven by political executive will.
The police force, it seems, has become a pawn in the grip of its political masters. There is no method by which to lodge a petition against erring police officers. The Second Administrative Reform Commission and the Supreme Court both accepted the need to have an autonomous complaint authority to investigate police misconduct instances.
Underutilization of funds
Both center and state equitably distribute funds for state police forces modernization. Typically, these funds are used to strengthen police infrastructure by building police stations, buying arms, communications equipment, and vehicles.
Nevertheless, the underuse of modernisation funds has been a chronic issue. The center and states, for example, allocated Rs 9,203 crore for modernisation in 2015-16. Only 14 per cent of this was invested, however.
The perfect solution to these issues is the mechanism of police reform that has been discussed with no success for decades. Several committees have been looking into the reform processes from period to period. So far the government has set up six commissions, including the National Police Commission. Such commissions have made proposals for substantial policing changes. Which include the Gore Committee on Police Education (1971-73), the Ribeiro Committee on Police Reforms (1998), the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms (2000), the National Security Group of Ministers (2000-01), and the Malimath Committee on the Criminal Justice System Reforms (2001-03).
If India is to progress as a prosperous modern country, it is imperative that the police system be strengthened, that it be provided the requisite resources and equipment to perform its multiple duties, and that an atmosphere be established in which police find upholding the rule of law to be their primary duty.
All these issues need the government’s urgent attention — both at the Center and at the provinces. Political leadership needs to realize that the dilapidated state of the police system will have a negative effect on the nation’s security and integrity. It is time we liberated the police from the clutches of political rulers and turned it from ‘Ruler’s Police’ to ‘People’s Police’.
This Article is written by Ms. Shivangi Mishra, a student from Jagran Lakecity University. She is a 3rd year law student, having a keen interest in research and writing.
Disclaimer: The opinions and views in the articles and research papers published on this website; are personal and independent opinions of the author. The website is not responsible for them.
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