Police reforms in India – a primer

Cover image: Bitter divide. | Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee
Source: Reddit | "Police Reforms - a Primer." | /u/RajaRajaC 

There are two aspects to Police reform – one is the modernisation (which this 25k crore will help with to a certain extent) and legislative and legal reforms which is untouched by any govt since 1861.

Policing comes under the state functions in our constitution and the majority of our state use the archaic British Raj era Police Act of 1861, with a few minor modifications here and there.

The fuck up is, the British saw the police as a tool to oppress the people, when in any advanced state (except the US), the police are meant to serve the people and this contradiction in thought vs reality is at the root cause of a lot of our problems, from vigilante mobs to riots to political thugs running rampant. The biggest issue in a nutshell is not even the Police act 1861, but the deathsgrip politicians hold over the police and other investigative bodies like the CB CID and CBI. For instance, look at the way Laloo took orders from that thug Shahbudin and then on behalf of Shabhudin, Laloo instructed the Police SP to take action. Simply put, a convicted murderer was ordering the Police SP to take action at his behest.

It is this criminal – politician – police nexus that needs to be broken.

The first report on police reforms was the National Police Commission of 1979 instituted by the Janata Govt.

From 1979 to 1998, literally nothing happened, when we formed yet another bloody commission. The Ribiero Commission of 1999 – do read the report, very well done, well analysed and the recommendations are pretty much common sense in hindsight, but can radically reform our Police apparatus.

We then did jackall for one more year when, you guessed it, yet another committee, the Padmanabiah published its reports. This does not deviate either from NPC or Ribeiro committee, but it goes into minutiae, such as age of constables to be recruited, recruitment process for SI’s (based on an entrance exam) etc etc.

We then did nothing for 3 years when a massive report on overall criminal reforms (including police reforms) was published, the Malimath report.

The report sneakily admits to the endless stream of reports by opening with this quote,

“Everything has been said already, but as no one listens, we must always begin again.”

This was not a report on just police reforms, but overall on how to overhaul our criminal justice reform (even typing this makes me angry, as even if we implement 50% of this report, our criminal justice system would drastically improve).

We then took the amazing step of publishing…yet another fucking report – well, not a report, but a “model bill”, The Police Act Drafting Committee, a laborious work, but again, beautiful piece of legislation that covers everything from recruitment to tenure to welfare for police officers. 110 pages long, if you like legalesse and administrative drudgery (some of us do), read it. Extensive and well thought out bill.

We then did nothing which irked a senior police (DGP of UP iirc), Prakash Singh who had in 1996 filed a PIL on police reforms.

In a nice twist of irony, the SC finally passed its verdict in 2006. Read the full case history here,

The tl;dr of this judgement are the 7 directives which you can read here in a summary manner.

In 2007, Veerapa Moily published a report on how administrative services could be overhauled, this also touched on reform of the IPS.

As the Modi govt also needed to put its stamp and publish yet another fucking draft, it also tweaked the 2006 model bill and…published yet another fucking model bill in 2015.

This is where we are now.

All these bills, reports etc broadly say the same thing,

  • Fixed tenure for all senior officers from iirc SP upwards – this means the MLA or MLA’s third cousin’s brother cannot threaten to transfer an SP for daring to stop him at a check post.
  • A Committee that oversees promotions and transfers, with the state police chief heading it and having both IAS officials and retired judges (for impartiality) – Right now, police posts are up for sale. If you want a lucrative post, you bid for it and buy the fucking post. This is SI upwards, not just senior roles.
  • Improving their pay and living conditions.
  • Separate the enforcement and investigative wings.
  • Competitive selection procedures for all ranks above SI, including an entrance exam

These reforms all aim at improving the quality of police officers, improving their pay (which will attract a better quality) and most importantly, insulating the police from the politicians AND bringing greater accountability and transparency.

The Ribiero committee even wants every state to set up a State Security Committee that will oversee all police operations and iirc report into the MHA directly.

At last 15 states somewhat implemented some random reforms vaguely, only 4 states have in principle agreed to empower a PEB (Police Establishment Board) / SSC as per the Ribeiro Committee to authorise transfers and promotions, but nothing has moved on the ground. IIRC, 4 states have agreed to fix tenures of 1 year (lol) for DGP’s, and the rest have flat out not even signed onto this. Only Kerala and Karnataka have again, iirc agreed to seperate law and order and investigative functions, I don’t know if this has actually been implemented.

Even this “compliance” was because they have to tell the SC that they have done something.

Till we fix the police and later the judiciary, we will forever remain a benighted third world country. Problem is, the fucking politicians, be they the Modi or Barmaid or AIADMK or BJD or TMC, are all united only on this one issue. THEY WILL NOT free the police and till they do, the police will remain a useless, ineffective force. This is one of the biggest failures of the BJP. Which is why, though I support them, everytime I hear Modi speak about national security and improving law and order, I can only think of how big of a hypocrite he is. Mind you, these reforms won’t even cost a naya paisa and there is literally no reason but selfish ones that are preventing them from being passed.

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