Indian Police tasks are of three types- (i) investigative; (ii) preventive; and (iii) service

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1. Police tasks are of three types- (i) investigative; (ii) preventive; and (iii) service-oriented tasks of the police are beyond any kind of intervention by the executive or non-executive of preventive and service-oriented functions, the police directions should be openly given made known to the State Legislatures.

2. To help the State government discharge their superintending responsibility in an open manner under t framework of a law, a State Security Commission should be established statutorily in each State.7 Commission should have the Minister in Charge of Police as its chairman and six more members.

Two these should be from the State Legislature (one from the ruling and the other from the opposition pa and four should be appointed by the Chief Minister, subject to the approval of the State Legislature, fir amongst retired judges of the High Court, retired senior government officers and eminent social activists or academicians. The State Security Commission should:

» Lay down broad policy guidelines for the performance of preventive and service-oriented functions the police;

» Evaluate the performance of the State Police every year;

» Function as a forum of appeal to dispose of representations from officers regarding their being subjected to illegal orders and regarding their promotions and

» Generally review the functioning of the State Police Force.

3. The Chief of Police should be assured of a fixed tenure of office. The tenure may be for four years a period extending up to the period of retirement, whichever is earlier. The removal of the Chief of Police from his post before the expiry of the tenure should require approval of the State Security Commission

4. The Chief of the State Police Force should be selected from a panel of three IPS officers of that State. The panel should be prepared by a committee headed by the Chairman of the UPSC.

5. The Police Act of 1861 should be replaced by a new Police Act, which not only changes the system of superintendence and control over the police but also enlarges the role of the police to make it function as an agency which promotes the rule of law in the country and renders impartial service to the community.

Efforts should be made to make the police citizen-friendly and create an environment where people fearlessly approach police stations.

Political will is essential for police reforms in the country. Asking the judiciary to pinpoint the causes of delay in resolving cases and making those responsible for it accountable, such delays led even to witnesses falling prey to corruption which, in turn, resulted in criminals going scot-free

Any initiative aimed at police reforms by the Centre received opposition from the state govern­ments, under the pretext that law and order is a state subject.

Police being the foundation of the criminal justice system should be good and sound and that police reforms were vital.

Police accountability would depend on the elimination of corruption, proper recruitment and training of police, greater awareness among the citizens about their own rights, ensuring the independence of police function without their position compromised by the political leadership and using information technology to bring transparency in the entire police operations.

There is a widespread feeling that all the ills of the police are due to the acute politicisation of the system, and that no reform exercise will ever succeed till politicians agree not to interfere with the day- to-day operations of the police. Autonomy for the police without loss of accountability is the slogan that is raised in chorus by a chunk of the pro-reform lobby.

Taking a close look at the status report on the NPC reports, we get impressive but deceptive statis­tics. More than 90 per cent of the NPC recommendations have been implemented. But three of the most crucial ones are yet to see the light of day.

The first of these relates to the setting up of a State Security Commission that will not only evaluate the performance of the police but also entertain representations from officers of the rank of Superinten­dent of Police and above against being subjected to illegal or irregular orders.

Such a Commission - headed by the Minister in charge of the police and in which one of the six members will be from the Opposition in the legislature - could greatly reduce the frequency of wrongful and unethical directions to officers, either by the police leadership or by the political executive.

The second is choosing the Director- General of Police of a State through a clinical process and conferring on him a mandatory tenure of four years.

Finally, the NPC recommended the replacement of the Police Act, 1861, with a new Act that takes care of the current times when we need a swift-acting police that is not hampered by an obstructive Executive Magistrate, especially during major law and order situations.

The NPC actually went to the extent of drafting a model Police Act, which plugged several lacunae in the old Act and submitted it for government acceptance.

The mandarins in North Block have been dragging their feet over this since 1981, obviously because the new Act makes the police mostly free from the Executive Magistrate and the political executive.

While the first two recommendations need action by State Chief Ministers, in respect of the third, both Parliament and the State legislatures are competent to bring forward a Bill that could become the new Police Act applicable to the whole country.

NPC recommendations are not a panacea for all the ills of the police. Police leaders, present and past have no doubt failed to bring about an ambience in which the executive could have been convinced of the need for reforms.

The gulf of a lack of trust between the two remains unabridged. But this is no argument for stalling reforms. The silent majority in the country needs the reforms badly.

Nearly 90 per cent of the police forces in the country is comprised of the constabulary. Unlike in the past, more and more educated men and women are voluntarily joining the police at this entry level, in expectation of a satisfying career.

This precious resource will have to be protected. This is not possible under the existing state of affairs, where obedience and servility to the senior officers and the political masters are the main criteria for advancement and placement in meaningful jobs within the police.

If professional excellence has to be nurtured, even at the level of the much-maligned constabulary, we owe them the right working conditions in which they can give of their best.

Such an ambience cannot come about without implementing the most crucial NPC recommendations that are gathering dust in North Block and in State Secretariats. Meanwhile, a report has been prepared by former Punjab D.G.P. Julio Ribeiro that has been submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs to the Supreme Court, which is looking into a public interest petition demanding implementation of the NPC recommendations.

Within the police establishment also, there are those who are content to retain the status quo. Closely associated with powerful interests, they acquiesce in and allow the system to continue.


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