Policing Practices And Need For Reforms In India
Pallavi Solanki, PhD Research Scholar at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law
Amardeep, LLM (Criminal Law) at Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law
“Threat to human rights and bodily integrity is highest in police stations” These are the recent remarks made by the present Chief Justice of India, NV Ramana which portrays the reality of present-day police stations in India.
There has been an ongoing debate on reforming the Police Acts in India. From time to time, several governments have appointed commissions, which have submitted reports and recommendations for police reforms. So far, the government has set up six committees, including the National Police Commission. These commissions have proposed substantial police changes. But no leading changes have been made. In 1996, a petition2 was filed before the Supreme Court raising various instances of police abuse of power and alleging that police officers are carrying out their responsibilities in an undemocratic way. In 2006 the SC released its judgment where the court gave the center and state government seven-point directives to be followed. Nonetheless, no proper implementation of the court order has been done to date. Police in the modern society through various laws have been entrusted to the duty or protecting the rights of the common man in the major areas of human living like his body, property and reputation. The police are the external manifestation of power of the State. They are the agency responsible for the maintenance of internal peace. They exist to maintain peace in the society, ensure security of the individual and his property, enforce the rule of the law and ensure that the programmes of the state are properly carried out. They are rather supposed to work as a catalyst of the development envisaged by the state the police system as it involved during British period, was to protect interests of British Empire. The political upheavals from 1857, onwards till India achieved freedom, change in administration was brought about, but aims and objective of police department remained the same. At the dawn of independence, police being strong arm of administration, was most hated institution in the country as it was held responsible for brutalities inflicted on the people and inhuman treatment meted out to the political leaders during freedom movements, both violent and nonviolent. The political changes brought about by declaration of independence did not change the image, attitude and functioning of the police. The then government was mostly a police state, where keeping internal peace was the main objective of criminal law administration. Initially police force was being utilized for using force against the defaulter in revenue payment. But gradually its duty was enlarged and extended to handling of theft and other crimes. The police force that was established had an orientation of tyranny and torture. Using physical force was the only method of achieving their objective. The British-lndian Police which comprised of mainly Indian nationals with a few white skinned high-level officers kept the Indian population in an atmosphere of terror and threat. They ruled over the people with batons and guns. With the slow rise of independence movement across the country the British police had another duty to discharge and that was the suppression of the political movement through terror and fear. During the prime period of independence struggle the police force had no other work than to tackle agitations and other form of political disturbances. Even though 'rule of law' was the founding principle of British legal system, it was clearly noticed that such principle was given a good bye in Indian administration during British Rule. The need to study and analyze the police reforms arise since the entire responsibility to enforce the laws` and maintaining rule of law lies on the shoulders of police department, but unfortunately, we still have the same policing system as established by our colonial rulers to enforce their policy and the same policing is now being used to enforce the Rule of Law. The Indian society has become more complex by its exposure to technology, mass education and human rights values, yet it has not totally given up its tradition and the old value system. The result is a heterogeneous and plural system where we seek unity in diversity. Century old colonial system has taught the people to be more and more dependent on Govt, and consequently on the police for law enforcement. Police has taken advantage of this psychology of the people. The bureaucracy and the police administration have indulged in rampant social corruption and blatant exploitation.