The Home Affairs Parliamentary Standing Committee has presented a report on the training, modernization, and reform efforts in the police force.
What is meant by the term Police Reforms?
- Their goal is to revolutionize police organizations by reshaping their culture, values, policies, and operational methods.
- The vision is for police officers to perform their duties in line with democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law.
- Furthermore, they aim to enhance the manner in which the police engage with various components of the security sector, including courts and corrections departments, as well as executive, parliamentary, or independent bodies responsible for management and oversight.
- Notably, police are classified as a state entity according to schedule 7 of the Indian Constitution.
Key Points of the Report
Addressing Women Under-representation:
- The report asked that the Centre advise states and union territories on creating a road map for ensuring 33 per cent representation of women in police forces, while also expressing concern over their underrepresentation.
- Women may be appointed to police posts by creating additional posts rather than converting men’s vacant posts.
- Enhancing women’s representation will also help to improve the police-to-population ratio.
- The states and union territories should assign essential and challenging duties to women instead of inconsequence. It proposed at least one all-women police station in each district.
Managing Stress of Police Personnel:
- It recommended offline and online modules to help them de-stress through yoga, exercises, counselling and treatment.
Separation of Law Enforcement & Investigation Wing:
- It advocated for the separation of investigation from law and order in order to maintain accountability and promote police autonomy in probing crimes.
- This will result in specialisation and professionalism, as well as a faster inquiry and more secure convictions.
- The expert panel has endorsed the use of video-conferencing for virtual trials, with a focus on cases involving high-risk individuals.
- This approach promises to reduce the need for extensive police escort services for under-trial prisoners going to court, which will, in turn, help conserve valuable resources.
Addressing Poor Police Conditions
- The committee has expressed concern about the low housing satisfaction levels among police personnel, recommending increased funding for improved housing conditions.
- In the modern era, some police stations in India still lack basic amenities like telephones and reliable wireless access, especially in sensitive regions like Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, and Punjab.
- The policing system should be transparent, independent, accountable, and people-friendly.
Lax implementation of the law
- The committee expressed concern that even after 15 years, only 17 States have either enacted the Model Police Act, 2006, or amended the existing Act.
- The progress in police reforms has been slow.
- It recommends that the MHA (Ministry of Home Affairs) may put the information in public domain about the states that are leading and lagging in the modernization process.
Border Police Training
- Advise the state police and central armed police forces to train and liaison with people living in the border areas for gathering intelligence on infiltration, use of drones and drug trafficking.
The Pool of Anti-Drone Technology
- In the case of drones, the panel urged the MHA to establish a central pool of anti-drone technology “at the earliest” and gaveits accessto all states and union territories.
Underutilization of Funds
- The committee observed that the under-utilisation of funds by the states for police modernisation needs to be identified.
- It recommended that the MHA should consider constituting a committee which can visit the underperforming states and assist them to utilize the funds in a planned manner.
What are the Problems Concerning Police Forces?
- Historical Background: The Police Act of 1861 in India, enacted by the British after the 1857 revolt, aimed to enhance the administration of law enforcement and prevent future uprisings.
- Balancing Accountability and Autonomy: The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC-2007) highlighted the need to strike a balance between political oversight and operational independence in the police force. This was to prevent the misuse of power for personal or political gain.
- Psychological Strain on Lower-Ranking Officers: Within the Indian police force, junior officers often face verbal abuse from superiors and endure harsh working conditions, affecting their well-being.
- Public Perception Challenges: The second ARC report identified issues in police-public relations, as the public tends to perceive the police as corrupt, inefficient, politically biased, and unresponsive.
- Understaffed Police Force: In 2016, the sanctioned police strength was 181 officers per lakh people, falling short of the United Nations’ recommended level of 222 officers per lakh people, causing concerns about public safety.
- Dominance of Constabulary: Constables constitute 86% of state police forces and bear significant responsibilities in maintaining law and order.
- Infrastructure Deficiencies: Modern policing necessitates advanced communication systems, state-of-the-art weaponry, and enhanced mobility. However, financial audits in 2015-16 revealed shortages in weaponry, and the Bureau of Police Research and Development reported a 30.5% shortfall in required vehicles for state police.
What are the other Reforms that can be done?
Modernization of Police Forces
The Police Forces’ Modernization Program (PFMP), initiated back in 1969-70, has seen various updates and improvements throughout its history.
- However, there is a need to fully utilise the government-sanctioned funds.
- The MPF scheme entails:
- Mobility of police forces
- Procurement of modern weapons
- Logistics support, up-gradation of police wireless
- A national satellite network.
Need for Political Will
In the notable Prakash Singh case of 2006, the Supreme Court laid out seven important guidelines, highlighting the ongoing need for substantial efforts in police reform. Unfortunately, because of a lack of commitment from some governments, many failed to fully implement these guidelines.
Reforming the Criminal Justice System
In addition to improving policing, our criminal justice system also demands essential reforms. We can draw inspiration from the recommendations made by the Menon and Malimath Committees to address these issues. Here are a few key suggestions from these committees:
- Creating a compensation fund for victims coerced into becoming uncooperative due to pressure from wrongdoers.
- Establishing a distinct national authority responsible for handling security-threatening crimes.
- Undertaking a comprehensive overhaul of the criminal procedure system to enhance its effectiveness and fairness.