The good cop
- It's time to persuade states towards implementing measures for police reform directed by the SC in its Prakash Singh verdict.
- There were committees in states as well as the 1860 Police Commission that led to the Police Act of 1861.
- Since then, there have been several Committees/Commissions
- Some directly on the police: National Police Commission and the Ribeiro and Padmanabhaiah committees
- Others referring to police reforms indirectly : Malimath Committee and Second ARC.
- Supreme Court passed a judgement on the issue in 2006.
- The court’s directives covered seven domains:
- State security commissions
- Appointment and tenure of DGPs
- Tenure of other police officers
- Separation of investigation from law and order
- Police establishment boards for transfers
- Postings and promotions
- Police complaints authorities; and
- National Security Commission.
- 2006: draft Model Police Act was framed.
- July 2015: so far 15 States have formulated their State Police Act and Gujarat and Karnataka have amended their Police Acts.
- Thus, a total of 17 state governments have either formulated their state police acts or amended the existing one.
- January 2019: Government reviewed the Model Police Act, 2006 and accordingly, drafted Model Police Bill, 2015 and placed on the website of BPR&D.
Question of jurisdiction
- Police is a state subject, falling in List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India.
- It is primarily state governments’ responsibility to formulate a new Police Act or amend their existing Act on the lines of the draft Model Police Bill prepared by the Central Government.
- Union List mentions armed forces of the Union, CBI and some reasons for preventive detention.
- State List has public order and police.
- Concurrent List has criminal law and procedure and some reasons for preventive detention.
- Because of this dichotomy, home ministry has two police divisions — Police-I and Police-II.
- The latter has central armed police forces under its ambit.
- 2016: Niti Aayog paper suggested moving police to Concurrent List.
- Since that July 2015 statement and Niti Aayog’s paper, all states have complied with seven directives.
- Only setting up of State Security Commission is not compliance.
- Its composition, powers and the extent to which its recommendations are binding is more important
- Only a handful states are keen to even initiate partial reform.
- Structure of police varies across states.
- It was major concern of the Police Commissions of 1860 and 1902-03.
- Because of the resultant inefficiency, states often request CAPF whenever there is a problem.
- Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy did an analysis of Seventh Schedule and recommended the retention of police in the State List.
- Any isolated movement of an entry from State List to Concurrent List will be seen as an attempt of greater centralisation.
- A complete overhaul of the Seventh Schedule might be a good idea.
- It doesn’t mean there is no way out of the impasse other than action by the Supreme Court.
- If two or more states so desire, Article 252(1), does allow Parliament to legislate.
In tracking compliance across states, it isn’t difficult to think of at least two states that are largely compliant. Now that the pandemic is out of the way, it is necessary to bring police reforms back on the agenda. The country deserves to move on from 1861.
Mains Takeaway Prelims takeaway
- Prakash Singh COmmitte
- Police reforms
- Q. The Indian Police system is more feared by the public than seeking help from. Comment.