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August 28, 2017

Essays for IBPS PO VII : Police Reforms in India

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Police Reforms in India

  • The Britishers introduced the policing system in our country. 
  • How its necesary for democracy ? 
  • Cases of police high-handedness. 
  • Need of police empowerment and police reform. 
  • The government appointed many commissions and committees for recommendations of police reforms.
"We are bound by law to be free, not to be subjugated."
However, in this nation of a billion plus people, where we empower a few to make laws for the country and ensure their enforcement, those few themselves, flagrantly violate laws with impunity. State and citizens have existed based on the foundation of the Theory of the Social or Political Contract given by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Social contract arguments typically posit that individuals have consented, either explicitly or tacitly, to surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the state in exchange for protection of their remaining rights. The question of the relation between natural and legal rights, therefore, is often an aspect of social contract theory. 

It is that point when state itself starts to trample on these rights, police in this case, that clamour for Police Reform gets stirred up. Police who are supposed to be the protectors of common public and custodian of law and order of the state becomes subservient to their political master. Parochial interests, pecuniary gains, extant laws and other diabolical activities are the main reasons for the hand-in-glove relation between politicians and police prevalent in the system.

The Police Act, 1861 remains the central piece of legislation that governs all aspects of policing in India. It is a British legacy which our legislators find hard to cast off. It carries certain characteristics to the disadvantage of the common public : search, seizure and arrest at discretion; distancing and grandeur; authoritarianism, brutality, feudal attitude etc. Among other things IPC, CrPC, Indian Evidence Act, 1872 etc also help in much of the policing function. 

The 1861 Police Act came into being immediately after the 1857 mutiny, solely to perpetuate and consolidate British rule and to keep a check on such civilian upsurge. However, to start with, Charles Napier, the then Governor of Punjab was the one who felt the need of a civilian policing system in 1843. Before setting up a police organisation in his province he had two models in mind-London Policing system and Irish Constabulary System. London Policing System was based on the philosophy- Police is public, public is police. Whereas the latter was meant to exercise a coercive control and perpetuate exploitation. Irish Constabulary Policing system dovetailed with the Indian requirements. This system was later emulated in other provinces also but it gained a pan-India face only after the introduction of the umbrella Police Act of 1861. 

Policing, for any democratic set-up is a vital function. It ensures law and order in the society; protects rights of citizens, women and backward sections of the society; nips corrupt activities of the system; provides security at times of exigencies etc. Police doesn't just ensure law and order but is also facilitator of justice. 

Therefore, it is imperative that we make the transition from being a quasi-police state to a welfare state, where Policing is citizen friendly and not antithetical to their needs and demands. The cases of violence with religious colours and the police interference to restore normalcy in the area is pertinent in this regard. Another very important aspect of policing is protecting the rights of citizens. Police needs to be sensitised towards women and the weaker sections of society viz backward castes, SCs, STs, children, transgenders. 

This will ensure that we move towards a society where every section of the society is treated equally and is able to achieve their full potential. Recently, the case of entry of women in Shani Singnapur temple came to light where women demanded their right to enter the temple. Another aspect of policing is weeding corruption from our society. With a torrent of scams in the recent past, it can be said that the pro-activeness of the police accompanied with executive, legislative and judicial actions would have kept a check on them. 

However, things have come to such a point that bureaucratic-executive nexus have made such scams possible. CBI has come down hard on the accused by leaving no stone unturned and bringing the accused to justice. Similarly, police paraphernalia is used for ensuring security of vital installations and respite at the time of exigencies viz disaster management, terrorist attacks etc. 

The duty of police is to ensure a sense of security among the citizens. Therefore, it is important that public places like airports, railway stations, markets be kept safe from any untoward incidents, where the role of police becomes very important. Role of police during 26/11 attacks, rescue relief operation during Uttarakhand floods are relevant in this regard. 

However, the image of police is not so respectful in India. Instances of police excesses; custodial deaths; indifference towards public complaints; high handedness in dealing with the weaker sections of the society; insensitive attitude towards women; profligate use of force etc have been irritants in public-police relations. Supreme Court in 2014 said that the menace of police excesses on women and helpless people must be stopped by all as it reproached the recent episodes of police excesses on a woman  in Punjab's Tarn-Taran district and on contractual teachers in Bihar. We often hear cases of women not being appropriately treated by the police and their modesty getting breached. Police excesses don't command respect in the mind of public, rather it makes their relation more acrimonious. Custodial deaths is another area which remains a cause of concern. 

Every accused needs fair trial and any attempt to extract information by torture is grave violation of right to life and other tenets of Human Rights. Amputation of male organ of Shri Jugtaram in police custody in Barmer, Rajasthan in 1994 is a case in point. Similarly, cases of indifference of police towards general public are appalling. 

The reluctance to register FIRs, casual attitude towards pursuing any case without any sense of urgency etc are case in point. Cases like filing of FIR against three students in JNU on charges of sedition and in the same instance, refusal to file named-FIR against perpetrators, when these students were beaten with impunity in High Court premises is relevant in this regard. 

Police authorities display high handedness in dealing with weaker sections of society. Policing, far from being the professional imposition of a coherent moral consensus on society is an intensely political activity with policemen often facilitating and participating in the violence not just against these two communities but against minorities, other weaker sections and women. 

Naxalism, which today is the greatest internal security danger to the country can trace its origin to police high handedness on weak and the denial of justice. Similarly, in a recent Supreme Court directive, the court was of the view that 'good Samaritans', helping during road accidents should not be harassed and police should be sensitive in handling with these cases. Police brutality is also manifested as the use of force is applied with profligacy. 

Riot control requires use of baton or water cannons to disperse violent mobs. But the use of force against peaceful agitating crowd is uncalled for, In 2012, Nirbhaya case force was used by police to disperse peaceful agitators. These incidents instill a sense of fear in the minds of citizens demanding justice. 

The approach of the police is of fail to safe approach rather than safe to fail approach i.e. being on the right side of law irrespective of any negative fallout. Police empowerment is another area which needs attention. Bad service conditions, overworked and underpaid lower functionary etc need immediate attention. Taking a leaf from some of the successful police organisations -viz Singapore, the Netherlands, New York Police departments may serve the purpose. Delegating and devolving more power to the lower, intermediate and field officials can also bring about agility and swiftness in operation. Training of the officials is largely pedagogic rather than being andragogic. Appraisal system is subjective and lacks scientism. 

Introduction of latest technology in policing is also long due. Compstat, biometrics, GPS tracking, smart-gun, visionic facelt system, e-policing etc can be handy tools. There exists a mismatch between the modus operandi of police and the problems of 21st century India. Issues like human trafficking, organised crime, cyber crimes, illegal drug cartel and ;iic.h other crime syndicates are thriving because of the lax, unsystematic, inflructuous nature of police operation. Police start rearranging deck chairs only when the problem balloons to the point of explosion. Police reform is imperative to mitigate such gaps existing in the system. 

The government has set up several commissions and committees to look into police excesses and suggest recommendations for police reforms. The Shah Commission (1977), Dharamveera Committee, Julio Riberio Committee, Padmanabhaiah Committee and Kamal Kumar Committe have suggested more than 600 very effective recommendations. The government, however has remained indifferent to the issue and has cited political reasons, large number of recommendations etc for its inability to formulate a Bill for police reforms. The present status is that the government has still not taken any prudent step. 

It brings wryness that after so much of spadework done by these committees and commissions nothing fruitful come out of the efforts. There is no gain saying the fact that alacrity on the part of government to bring reform is commendable! The vortex of suffering of the common public by the hands of despotic police and capricious politicians will continue and the Police will keep carrying the tag of "Criminals in Uniform". 

Difficult Words with Meanings
  • Flagrantly - done in a very obvious way which is shocking and shows no respect for people, laws etc;
  • Impunity - freedom from any risk of being punished for doing something wrong or bad
  • Clamour - an urgent request for something by a lot of people
  • Parochial - only concerned with small issues that happen in your local area arid not interested in more important things
  • Pecuniary - relating to or connected with money
  • Diabolical - belonging to or so evil as to recall the devil
  • Perpetuate - to make something such as a bad situation, a belief etc. continue for a long time
  • Pertinent - appropriate to a particular situation
  • Paraphernalia - a large number of objects or personal possessions, especially the equipment that you need for a particular activity
  • Profligate - using money, time, materials etc. in a careless way;
  • Acrimonious - angry and full of strong bitter feelings and words
  • Perpetrators - persons who commit a crime or do something that is wrong or evil
  • Pedagogic - relating to educational methods and principles
  • Prudent - sensible and careful when you make judgements and decisions, avoiding unnecessary risks
  • Alacrity - great willingness or enthusiasm
  • Capricious - showing sudden changes in attitude or behaviour.
shared by Nisheeta Mirchandani
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