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Why India needs an effective Police reform policy?

Shivam Pandey

The law is important for a civilized society for it serves as a norm of conduct for citizens. In modern Indian society constitution of India and other substantial and procedural laws are the main sources for making a society peaceful and for implementing these laws there are courts, legal personnel, and police forces.


Police are in general a system of precaution, either for the prevention of crime or of calamities. Legally, The Police Act, 1861 is still the basic instrument governing the functioning of Indian police. First looking at the police force strength in the country as of 1.1.2015, as per data supplied by the Bureau of Police Research and Development the total sanctioned force is 22,63,223 (including civil & armed police forces).


UN has recommended 222 police personnel per lakh population while in India sanctioned strength is 182.68 policemen per lakh population. To make things worse, on the ground, the policemen per lakh citizens are merely 139 which is a mammoth 37% less than the recommended figure.


While looking the recent years there we find a lot of allegations such as fake encounters, custodial death, and abusive behavior towards the public have been made against police by the public and many of them were found correct by courts and inquiry commission. Although various committees/commissions in past made a number of important recommendations regarding police reform. Notable amongst these are the National Police Commission (1978-82), the Padmanabhaiah Committee on the restructuring of police (2000), and the Malimath Committee on reform in the criminal justice system (2002-3).


But in the last two decades, a huge number of cases related to fake encounters, the killing of innocent people by cops, custodial death came to light through media reports, and most of them were found correct by courts and inquiry committees. In 2018 Delhi High Court awarded 7 policemen of Uttarakhand police in a fake encounter of MBA student Ranvir Singh. Vivek Tiwari, a resident of Lucknow was killed by two cops of U.P police in Lucknow because he refused to stop his car on call of cops. An IPS officer Manilal Patidar who is accused of corruption, abetment to suicide of Mahoba based trader, and a reward of 50000 on him. Two days ago, a businessman named Manish Gupta died during a raid by UP Police on a hotel in Gorakhpur. The family of the deceased alleged that he was assaulted by police when he object to police for misbehavior during the raid which led to his death. Even in the landmark judgment of Supreme Court, P.C Ghosh, JJ held that

The Police has not come out of its colonial image, despite 6 decade of independence the police is largely considered as tool of harassment, oppression and surely not considered as a friend of public.’[1]

After analyzing thousands of incidents like mentioned above it can be said that this is the right time to make more effective rules and regulations for police reform.

[1] Arnesh Kumar V. State of Bihar & Ors., (2014) 8 SCC 273.

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