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Parliamentary Panel Report on Police Reforms

Why in News?

Recently, the Parliamentary standing committee on home affairs has tabled a report on Police- training, modernisation and reforms. The report highlights the number of reforms required and challenges faced by the Police forces.

What are the Key Points of the Report?

  • Addressing Women Under-representation: The report asked the Centre to advise states and Union Territories to create a road map for ensuring 33% representation of women in police while expressing anguish over their underrepresentation.
    • The appointment of women in police may be done by creating additional posts rather than converting the vacant posts of men.
    • Ensuring higher women representation will also help in improving the police-population ratio.
    • States and union territories should assign important challenging duties to women instead of those of inconsequence. It recommended at least one all-women police station in each district.
  • Managing Stress of Police Personnels: It recommended offline and online modules to help them de-stress through yoga, exercises, counseling and treatment.
  • Separation of Law Enforcement & Investigation Wing: It called for the separation of investigation from law and order to maintain accountability and increase police autonomy in probing crimes.
    • This will lead to specialisation and professionalism, speed up the investigation and secure the convictions.
  • Virtual Trails: The panel backed virtual trials, particularly those involving high-risk groups, via video conferencing.
    • It will help in dedicating less police force for escorting under-trial prisoners to courts and also save resources.
  • Addressing Poor Conditions of Police: The committee expressed disappointment over the poor housing satisfaction levels among police personnel and recommended an allocation of funds for housing.
    • In the 21st century India, there are police stations without telephones or proper wireless connectivity especially in many sensitive states like Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha and Punjab.
  • People-friendly Policing: Policing system should be transparent, independent, accountable and people-friendly.
  • Lax Implementation of 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.
  • Community Policing: Community policing should be promoted, as it involves a cooperative effort between police and the communities where both can work together to solve the crime and crime-related problems.
  • 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.
  • Pool of Anti-drone Technology: For drones, the panel directed the MHA to create a central pool of anti-drone technology “at the earliest” and give its access to all states and Union Territories.
  • Under-Utilisation 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.
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What is the Meaning of Police Reforms?

  • Police reforms aim to transform the values, culture, policies and practices of police organizations.
  • It envisages police to perform their duties with respect for democratic values, human rights and the rule of law.
  • It also aims to improve how the police interact with other parts of the security sector, such as the courts and departments of corrections, or executive, parliamentary or independent authorities with management or oversight responsibilities.
  • Police come under the state list of schedule 7 of the Indian constitution.

Committees/Commissions on Police Reforms

What are the Issues Concerning Police Forces?

  • Colonial Legacy: The Police Act of 1861 was legislated by the British right after the revolt of 1857 to bring in efficient administration of police in the country and to prevent any future revolts.
  • Accountability to the Political Executives vs Operational Freedom: The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC-2007) has noted that political control has been abused in the past by the political executive to unduly influence police personnel, and have them serve personal or political interests.
  • Psychological Pressure: In the Indian police force, the lower ranks of police personnel are often verbally abused by their superiors or they work in inhuman conditions.
  • Public Perception: The Second ARC has noted that police-public relations is in an unsatisfactory State because people view the police as corrupt, inefficient, politically partisan and unresponsive.
  • Overburdened Force: 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.
  • Constabulary Related Issues: The constabulary constitutes 86% of the State police forces and has wide-ranging responsibilities.
  • Infrastructural Issues: Modern policing requires strong communication support, state-of the-art or modern weapons, and a high degree of mobility.
    • However, CAG audit reports of year 2015-16, have found shortages in weaponry with state police forces.
    • Also, the Bureau of Police Research and Development has also noted a 30.5% deficiency in stock of required vehicles with the state forces.
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What Other Reforms can be Brought?

  • Modernisation of Police Forces: The Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) scheme was initiated in 1969-70 and has undergone several revisions over the years.
    • However, there is a need to fully utilize the finances sanctioned by the government.
    • MPF scheme envisages:
      • Procurement of modern weapons
      • Mobility of police forces
      • Logistics support, upgradation of police wireless, etc
      • A National satellite network
  • Need For Political Will: The Supreme Court in the landmark Prakash Singh case (2006) gave seven directives where considerable work in police reforms is still needed.
    • However, due to the lack of political will these directives were not implemented in letter and spirit in many states.
  • Revamping Criminal Justice System: Along with Police reforms, there is a need to reform the criminal justice system too. In this context, the recommendations of the Menon and Malimath Committees can be implemented. Some of the key recommendations are as follows:
    • Creation of a fund to compensate victims who turn hostile from the pressure of culprits.
    • Setting up separate authority at the national level to deal with crimes threatening the country’s security.
    • A complete revamp of the entire criminal procedure system.