IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Still awaiting police reform

19th October, 2020 GOVERNANCE

Context: It is time for the judiciary to step in and enforce the diktats it had passed in 2006.

Recent brutality instances:

  • Police brutality in recent months has turned quotidian.
  • The thrashing of a Dalit Ahirwar couple by the police in Guna district of Madhya Pradesh on July 14 was very distressing.
  • The District Collector and the Superintendent of Police have been transferred and six police personnel have been suspended since the incident. The matter will soon be forgotten.
  • The public outcry following the brutal torture of J. Benicks and his father P. Jayaraj in Sattankulam town in Thoothkudi district of Tamil Nadu resulting in their death had still not died when news came that a gangster, Vikas Dubey, was killed by the Uttar Pradesh police in Kanpur when he allegedly tried to flee from custody.
  • The police version of the incident was quite unbelievable. It looked like the law had been subverted.
  • These incidents and several others show that we need immediate remedial measures.

Solutions that remain on paper

  • Commissions and committees are set up every time there are demands for police reforms after a major incident.
  • Then the recommendations of such commissions and committees are simply consigned to the archives.
  • But they are not forgotten as some senior police officials vociferously demand implementation of their recommendations from time to time.
  • The first serious attempt to overhaul the policing machinery was made when the National Police Commission (NPC) was set up in 1977. The NPC submitted eight reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs between 1979 and 1981.
  • The report was put in cold storage until Prakash Singh, a retired IPS officer, filed a PIL in the apex court in 1996 demanding the implementation of the NPC’s recommendations.

The mystery of police reform

  • In 2006, the Supreme Court issued a slew of directives on police reform.
  • These would have had a far-reaching impact had the States and the Centre paid any serious attention to them.
  • According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms (2018), there were 1,580 MPs and MLAs facing criminal charges. Therein lies the crux of the matter.

Turning a blind eye

  • The one diktat that would hurt the most is the setting up of a State Security Commission (SSC) in each State, which would divest the political leaders of the unbridled power that they wield at present.
  • Of the States that constituted an SSC, only Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have made SSC recommendations binding on the State government, according to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
  • Only six States provided a minimum tenure of two years to the Director General of Police (DGP). Many States have not implemented a single directive of the Supreme Court.

Awaiting police reforms

  • Since expecting political will to implement police reforms is a far cry, it is for the judiciary to step in and enforce the diktats it had passed.
  • Fourteen years is too long a period for any further relaxation.
  • The Court has to come down heavily on the States and the Centre to ensure that its directives are not dismissed lightly.
  • A bold step towards bringing down crimes is possible only when the politicians-criminals-police nexus is strangled.