Police/Public order in the Concurrent List

Circle Members:

We are sharing the below open letter from our Indian Police Foundation Chairman Mr. Prakash Singh to the PM. You are invited to share your inputs so a submission can be made to the key stakeholders in this regard.

Dear PM, India needs police reform

Are we prepared to face another 26/11-like strike? During the last eight years, since the devastating attack in Mumbai, some measures have no doubt been taken to strengthen the counter-terror architecture of the state, but much remains to be done. At the grassroots level, the inherent weaknesses of the state police remain. The thana police, which is the first responder to a terrorist act, continues to be in a dismal state.
While addressing the directors general of police in Guwahati on November 30, 2014, you enunciated the concept of SMART Police — police which would be strict and sensitive, modern and mobile, alert and accountable, reliable and responsible, tech-savvy and trained. It was a unique definition and we all looked forward to a transformational change. Two years down the line there is a sense of disappointment because the change has not happened. This is, however, not to find fault with the Central government. We all know that police is a state subject and that the decline is essentially because the state political leadership is not prepared to relax its stranglehold over the police.
The Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms have not been complied with in letter and spirit by any state. Seventeen states have enacted laws to legitimise the status quo and circumvent the implementation of the Court’s directions. The remaining states have passed executive orders which dilute or amend the SC’s directions. No wonder the Justice Thomas committee, which was set up to monitor the implementation of the Court’s directions, expressed a sense of “dismay” over the indifference to judicial directions.
The Central government is not entirely above blame. In 2006, when the SC gave its landmark judgment on police reforms, it was expected that the Government of India would enact the Model Police Act which had been drafted by a committee headed by Soli Sorabjee. The states would possibly have followed the Centre’s example. Besides, Article 252 of the Constitution gives Parliament the power to legislate for two or more states by consent. It states that such an Act shall apply to the consenting states and to any other states by which it is adopted through a resolution passed by the legislatures of those states. Nothing of the kind was even attempted by the previous government. As a result, we are confronted with an anomalous situation. The British had one Police Act for the entire country while we have different Acts for different states.
It is high time that the government seriously consider bringing police/public order in the Concurrent List of the Constitution. All state governments depend on the Centre to maintain law and order. An amendment to the Constitution would give de jure status to what is already de facto on the ground. Fali Nariman, a leading constitutional expert, has strongly argued for such an amendment. If the amendment is not found feasible, the least the government should do is declare certain crimes as “federal” and entrust their investigation to a Central agency. This would be in keeping with the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.

There are a range of other measures which could be undertaken without any significant opposition. There are huge manpower deficiencies — we are short of about half a million policemen nationwide. Why can’t these vacancies be filled up and provide employment to many? Police transport needs an upgrade. There are police stations in the country — and this may come as a surprise to you — which have neither a telephone nor wireless. Forensic facilities are hopelessly inadequate in all the states — except Gujarat, which not only has a state forensic laboratory, but also regional, district and mobile laboratories. The Gujarat model in forensics needs to be replicated in other states.
Housing has a direct impact on the welfare and morale of police personnel. There are instances of policemen living in sub-human conditions. The National Police Commission had recommended family accommodation for all the gazetted and non-gazetted personnel. According to the BPR&D, as on January 1, 2015, only 5.80 lakh family quarters were available for over 17.21 lakh police personnel. Working hours of policemen need to be regulated. Empirical studies have shown that subordinate police officers work 10-16 hours a day, round the week. This causes stress and leads to multiple complications including rude behaviour with the public and domestic unhappiness.

Separation of investigation from law and order is the least controversial direction of the SC. This could be implemented right away. Some states have already initiated the process. In fact, it would be ideal to hold a conference of the chief ministers, chief secretaries/home secretaries and DGPs of all the states to discuss the entire gamut of police reforms to enhance the capabilities of the police to meet the challenges of the future.
These challenges are going to be very serious.

Terrorist threats to the security of the state will be most formidable. Cyber-crimes will pose a serious threat. Maoist insurgency, militancy in the Northeast and separatist elements in J&K are already there. The overall internal security scenario is going to be grim and is best summed up in the Sanskrit verse Agnina dahyamanastu shatrumadhye gato rane (when there is fire all around and you are surrounded by enemies on the battlefield). The security architecture of the country requires a lot more reinforcement and strengthening.

One last point: Good internal security is essential to sustain the momentum of economic progress and provides the foundation for success and prestige in external relations. US national security doctrine acknowledges this basic principle. We seem to have ignored it so far. It is still not too late to rectify this mistake.

We have, sir, great expectations from you. May God give you the strength to push through reforms in the different spheres. more  

View all 45 comments Below 45 comments
I totally agree on the above facts. However safety and security is the prime importance of any society/country . my observations are 1) though Military and Police both intended for same purpose of central and state, both are way apart from their functionality, body language and discipline mainly patriotism, this feeling need to be improved 2)The recruitment should be, only for the fit personals without any influence or by others means what so ever 3) special eligibility criteria should be created to recruit personals working at cyber crime division it should not be trained police working in India we have enormous qualified intelligent personals. 4) Police personals should act based on situation. not waiting for complaint to receive while the crime is happening in front. in so many cases as we read in the news paper crime happened in presence of Police and they don"t react because there is no complaint. 5)police should respond to all the class of the peoples equally more  
Good to see that India Police a Foundation has raised pertinent issues.In the same breath, you seem to understand that this is basically a a State subject. It makes more sense if this can be directed at State CMs.If you go through the posts in Residents of Bengal , you will find that here it is the Police who run for safety in place of nabbing criminals.We are unpleasantly surprised when brilliant IPS officers toe the line of compromise under political compulsions.Can Mr Prakash Singh take this up ? more  
I totally agree. I also think a large number of the posts are vacant due to - The quota system - those under these quotas do not want to take up these jobs. Time to have a deadline during which the reservations seats are available and then they should be opened to the general quota. - The lack of proper facility and infrastructure makes joining the police force undesirable to youngsters who choose more lucrative jobs. - PR and marketing of the police force similar to the armed forces. - Corruption, slovenliness, shamelessness and laziness has made the force more a butt of jokes than an organization that is looked up to for its abilities and its drive to achieve and excel. - Healthier, fit and disciplined police force will make joining the force more aspirational for youngsters. - Most of us see the police force acting as drivers, bouncers and watchmen to politicians and other rich and powerful people. Why would anybody want to be associated with an organization that has no standing in its own rights. When you see Sr. Police officers opening car doors, tying the shoe laces and carrying politicians like servants - why would anyone join a force that has no respect for itself. - There is no pride in being in the police force unlike in the army. It is time to bring that pride into the force to make them believe that they are an integral part of protecting this nation from within and have a big role to play in the safety and security of the people internally. That they are responsible to protect the country from inside just as the army protects our borders. more  
Good points especially the concurrent list stuff, should be a priority for the government if really interested in routeing corruption. The letter fails to address how to stop police corruption by having an ombudsman sort of stuff. Anyway at least something for Suraksha. Understandable police will not agree to work with civilians or expand their ambit even temporarily to overcome shortage of man power. Intelligence will suffer so will the police personnel, as a civilian I leave it to IPF. But should civilians suffer for police corruption we will create a non state force that will be difficult for all government machinery to counter. Our court shall court martial the corrupt and punishment be given in extrajudicial arena, we will ensure punishments are carried out. The GOI can brand us any name it wants. more  
It is shocking that despite increasing terrorist acts in various parts of the country, the nation suffering continuous external terrorist attacks every now and then resulting in life loss of thousands of our people and our meritorious police and security personnel, majority of our states didn't bother to implement the recommendations of the Committee appointed by the government itself. It is more shocking that the governments even didn't show any regards towards the orders and the guidelines of the highest court of the nation only to meet their political ends and as well as personal ends of the individual leaders. Surprisingly, the central government also measurably failed to ensure to tighten the nation and its citizens' security by ensuring implementation of all the necessary steps and recommendations. It is high time now for the central government to ensure that all the state governments immediately initiate necessary steps, as disclosed in the captioned letter in letter & spirit without compromising with the nations security under any excuse. more  
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