Reform Policing


    Reform Policing

    Syllabus: GS2/ Important Aspects of Governance, Government Policies & Interventions, Issues Relating to Development

    In Context

    • Incidents like an outbreak of communal violence in Delhi region & violence in Manipur’s Imphal Valley raises concerns over the role of law enforcement.

    About the Law and Order & Policing in India

    • ‘Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India 
    • Role of State Government:
      • It is the primary duty of the State Governments to prevent, detect, register and investigate crime and prosecute the criminals
    • Role of Central Government:
      • The Central Government, however, supplements the efforts of the State Governments by providing them financial assistance for modernization of their Police Forces in terms of weaponry, communication, equipment, mobility, training and other infrastructure under the Scheme of Modernization of State Police Forces. 
      • Further, intelligence inputs are regularly shared by the Central Security and Intelligence Agencies with the State Law Enforcement Agencies to prevent crime and law and order related incidents.

    Government initiatives towards better policing

    • A number of initiatives taken by the Government of India toward better policing, including:
      • A project to decriminalise minor offences and violations and 
      • The move for amending the Identification of the Prisoners Act, 1920, a legislation that was passed more than a 100 years ago. 
    • The Prime Minister’s call for making the police a SMART force: standing for a force which is:
      • Strict and Sensitive, 
      • Modern and Mobile, 
      • Alert and Accountable, 
      • Reliable and Responsive, 
      • Tech-savvy and Trained.
    • The government is giving high priority to the greater use of technology in the day-to-day working of police. 
    • The Indian Police Foundation is taking efforts to realise the vision of a SMART Indian Police, especially by bringing internal reforms, technology adaptation, digital transformation and training to improve the professional and ethical standards of the police.

    Police Reforms

    • Supreme Court’s Prakash Singh judgement on police reforms: 
      • In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court in September 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.
        • The ruling issued a series of measures that were to be undertaken by the governments to ensure the police could do their work without worrying about any political interference.
      • Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP:
        • Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post. 
        • In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians. 
      • Police Establishment Boards (PEB):
        • The SC further directed postings of officers being done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders
      • State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA):
        • There was a recommendation of setting up the State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach. 
      • State Security Commissions (SSC):
        • The SC directed separation of investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing, setting up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society and forming a National Security Commission.

    Issues & challenges 

    • Doubt of neutrality:
      • As seen in multiple cases before, what stood out in recent incidents was the role of law enforcers. A brazenly weak will displayed by the Police to do their duty left the force’s neutrality in doubt. 
    • Political Interference: 
      • Police officers are not able to do their work due to the interference of political leaders. 
      • There is no minimum tenure security for officers at the higher post and not even place posting security.
      • Even in Manipur’s Imphal Valley, cops were alleged to have acted as political pawns.
    • Colonial Law: 
      • Even at present, the police system in India is based on colonial law.
      • Sometimes the British used the police as their instrument to suppress the voice of people and for their personal functions and at present our respected government is doing the same.
    • Huge vacancies:
      • While the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016, the actual strength was 137 police.
      • This is way too low when compared with the United Nations’ recommended standard of 222 police per lakh persons.
      • Further, a high percentage of vacancies within the police forces exacerbates an existing problem of overburdened police personnel.


    • Mob management:
      • Managing today’s angry, and often unruly, mobs requires a fresh set of skills and inherent abilities, apart from mere technology.
      • Understanding the psychology of agitating mobs and, in turn making them realise the dangers of their own predilections before matters get out of hand, is not an innate, but an acquired skill. 
    • Efforts on futuristic themes in policing:
      • There is a need for efforts on futuristic themes in policing, such as cyber crime, the dark web, crypto, maritime security, the threat from drones, and also problems stemming from an unchecked social media. 
      • These are in addition to subjects such as left-wing extremism, counter-terrorism, drug trafficking and border issues
    • Data war & technological changes:
      • Emerging challenges would require greater innovativeness and agility as well as a demonstration of newer cognitive skills to meet the challenges posed by swift technological change and the rise of data war fighting
    • Personnel selection:
      • The selection of personnel to security agencies, especially the police, also will require a total makeover. 
      • The 21st century is proving to be vastly different from the 20th century, and the choice of personnel to man security agencies requires more high-level attention than has been devoted to this task. 
    • Reducing arrests:
      • The foremost measure to reduce instances of custodial violence is to reduce the number of arrests. 
      • The law on arrest says that arrest for offences punishable up to seven years of imprisonment should be made only when the police officer is satisfied that such arrest is necessary to prevent the person from tampering with evidence, to prevent the person from committing any further offence, etc. 

    Way ahead

    • It’s about time the country had policing that can be trusted to go by the book. To enable this, police forces need structural autonomy. 
    • We must abandon a legacy of British rule that places them under political command. Revised incentives for law enforcement could lessen pre-poll mob violence. 
    • Top officers should be made answerable to legislative houses. But such a major reform would require the approval of Indian politicians.

    Daily Mains Question

    [Q] Incidents like the violence in Manipur’s Imphal Valley raises concerns over the role of law enforcement. Examine the loopholes & signify the need of structural autonomy in India’s Police Forces.