In ancient India governance was based on Dharma and Danda. Dandaneeti i.e., the law of punishing the evil-doer,was an important character of statecraft. The general control over people was exercised through the armed forces functioning under the sovereign. During Mauryan and Gupta periods, policing was undertaken systematically. Kautilya’s ‘Arthasastra’ describes the nature of police organisation and their functions. Moghul period saw the growth of Fauzdari System, where Kotwals and Thanedars were controlling law and order. The period of British rule witnessed the emergence of a centralised police force, which enforced a large number of penal laws and also maintained the might and authority of government.

The present Indian Police System is based on the Police Act of 1861; under this Act, the police was made subordinate to the executive government, and the same position continues. In 1903 and 1907, several changes were brought about in the structure as well as functioning of the police system. After Independence the police force in our country was charged with the responsibility of maintaining public order and preventing and detecting crime Under Art 246 of the Constitution of India, police and public order are made state subjects, hence the police in India is maintained and controlled by the states.

Organisation and Structure

Police administration is a state responsibility. However, the union government’s role in police administration- relates to making laws and making amendments to basic police laws like Indian Penal Code, Management of Indian Police Service etc. The Central Government also assists the state governments in maintaining law and order through its reserve units, like the Central Reserve Police Force, Border Security Force, Railway Protection Force, Central Industrial Security Force etc. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB) also provide assistance to the state police organisations in the fields of law and order, security and administration of justice.


Police structure in state

At the state level, police administration is more or less uniform throughout the country. The Home Department coordinates and supervises the police administration. The real work of police administration is undertaken by the Director General of Police/Inspector General of Police. The police set-up in big cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad etc. is directly under the Commissioner of Police.

The state is divided into territorial divisions called ranges. A number of districts constitute a range. Each district police is further subdivided into police divisions, circles and police-stations.

Range Level :


Each range is headed by Deputy Inspector General of Police. Each Police range comprises a few districts, which may vary from 2 to 8 depending upon the size, population and importance of the district. A major function of the DIG is to coordinate the activities of district police and to take measures for inter-district cooperation. He also ensures harmonious relation between the police and executive magistrates.

District and Sub-District level

In police administration district plays a pivotal role. All the laws and rules passed by the police are transformed into action at this level. Superintendent of Police (SP) is responsible for the maintenance of law and order and other law enforcement activities of the district. Technically, SP functions under the overall control of the Collector, but he and his subordinate officers in practice enjoy operational autonomy in the discharge of their functions. To provide assistance to the police, a number of units like the home-guards, the women police, crime branch, dog-squad etc. function at the district level.

For operational convenience the district police organisation is divided into a number of subdivisions. Sub-divisions are further divided into police-circles. Each circle may have 3 to 10 police stations. While the Deputy Superintended of Police or Additional Superintendent of Police is in charge of sub-division, the Inspector of Police is the head of the Police Circle. The police station is the lowest tier in the police organisation. It is the basic and primary unit, responsible for maintenance of law and order, prevention and control of crime and protection of life and property of the community.


All senior police posts in states are taken from Indian Police Service (IPs) cadre, to which recruitment “is made on all India basis. Recruitment and promotion of lower posts from Police Constables upto Deputy Superintendent of police are the responsibility of the state governments.