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  • Writer's pictureBrain Booster Articles


Author: Abhinav Pandey, II year of B.A.,LL.B.(Hons.) from University of Lucknow


Under the Constitution, Police is a subject governed by States. Therefore, each of the Twenty eight states has its own Police Forces. The Centre will also keep its own police forces to help states uphold law and order. As a result, it continues to perform a variety of specialized functions in seven Central Policing and many other police organizations, including intelligence collection, investigations, Research, Recordkeeping, and Education. Police forces play a vital role in maintaining and implementing laws, prosecuting crimes, and ensuring national safety and security. In a large and densely populated country like India, police forces must be well- trained in terms of Arms, Forensics, Communications, and Transportation support. They also need the right to act in order to fulfil their professional responsibilities, while also being kept accountable for poor outcomes or misuse of power, as well as adequate working conditions regulating working hours and promotional opportunities.

The police are an exclusive subject under the State List. Any police law can be enacted by a state legislature. However, the police have become puppets for politicians. The police Act of 1861, enacted by the British to quell dissent, is still in force in India. Now, India has become a political and economic superpower, but the police remain Paralysed. At the same time, the police face many challenges and issues, which makes necessary for changes in the police administration. For which, Honourable Supreme Court of India has issued many guidelines for reforms of Police, but they are not implemented well.

The History of Police Reforms

The police are viewed as the vital arm of a state, rather than as the active arm by which the state exercises control and power. The police have been a part of society since its inception, but in British India in 1792 (lord Cornwallis) in western Bengal, which was later extended to the province of Bombay, the formal and legal police force known as Darogah evolved (1793). The Darogah system did not meet the then-expectations of government because it was unable to control village police due to a labor shortage.Before and after independence, a number of committees and commissions were formed to address different aspects of improving the country’s police governance. It all started with the creation of the 1st Police Commission shortly after 1857 in order for the country’s police to recognize the regulatory framework. The findings of this Commission, which was established in 1860, contributed to the passage of the 1861 Police Act, which still governs the police.

The police organization in India in its present form is based essentially on the Police Act of 1861, which was legislated “to re-organise the police and to make it a more efficient instrument for the prevention and detection of crime”. It constituted a single homogenous force of civil constabulary for the performance of all duties which could not be assigned to the military arm. The management of the force in each province was entrusted to an Inspector General who was assisted by Superintendents of Police in each district. The superintendence of the police was vested in the state government.

The Indian Police Commission of 1902-03, which reviewed the working of the police, found that the system had failed because the importance of the police work had been under-estimated and responsible duties entrusted to un-trained and ill-educated officers recruited in the lowest ranks from the lower strata of society, that supervision had been defective, that the superior officers of the department were insufficiently trained, and that their sense of responsibility had been weakened by “a degree of interference never contemplated by the authors of the system”. It concluded that “the police force throughout the country is in a most unsatisfactory condition, that abuses are common everywhere, that this involves great injury to the people and discredit to the government, and that radical reforms are urgently necessary”. This was the first time that a responsible body talked of police reforms. Ironically, the battle for reforms continues even after more than a hundred years.

Police reforms : After-Independence Scenario

Following independence, the topic of “Police” is included in Schedule seven of the State list. However, the central government may, on occasion, compel state governments to introduce the required police reforms in order to meet people’s expectations. Following independence, the country saw the formation of various committees and commissions to examine various aspects of the Police Administration and recommend corrective measures. A number of major developments in police reform have been addressed in this article.

Gore Committee

The Government of India created a committee in November 1971 to study existing police training programmes and make recommendations on how police officers could improve their effectiveness. Training is regarded as one of the most important factors in increasing police morale and reliability.The committee, chaired by social scientist Prof. M. S. Gore, proposed that training is necessary for the following reasons-To bring the necessary experience and skills to the police force,

Developing the most effective strategy,Potential for effective decision-making, andIn order to inspire and create, creative thinking is needed.The committee concentrated on broadening the content and scale of police training on recognizing human behavior from the narrowest to the broadest possible. The Committeeemphasized the training as a “change-agent/car of change” signaling signpost that affects not only the workers who serve but also those who are served.

National Police Commission

The government of the Union established the National Police Commission in 1977, under the leadership of Dharam veer. The National Police Commission India (NPC) was established with broad mandates with an aim to cover the police organisation, its functions, responsibility, roles, connection with the citizens, political meddling in its work, abuse of power, and performance evaluation. The NPC was established with great hopes in exceptional circumstances as the first national commission after India’s independence. After the 1977 national elections, the NPC was commissioned by the Janata Party and brought into effect by the Congress Party. Throughout this time, this public administration was being used for political gain. From 1979 to 1981, the Commission issued eight reports proposing extensive reforms to the existing Police structure.

Vohra Committee

The government of India established the Vohra Committee in 1993, chaired by Home Secretary N.N. Vohra.It studied the problem of the criminalisation of politics and of the nexus among criminals, politicians and bureaucrats in India.

Ribeiro Committee

The Ribeiro Committee was established in May 1998 by the Indian government to comply with Supreme Court orders resulting from the PIL submitted to the National Police Commission for Recommendation (1977). This committee had a longer term to investigate the measures taken “to implement the recommendations of the National Police Commission (NPC), the National Human Rights Commission, and the Vohra Committee.” The Ribeiro committee issued two findings, proposing the creation of an advisory role and making recommendations to the Police Performance and Accountability Commission. It recommended the creation of District Police Claims and Police Establishment Boards, which would oversee additional aspects of police administration.

Padmanabhaiah Committee

The Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms (The Committee) was set up by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India in January 2000. In addition to the Chairman, a former Union Home Secretary, the Committee consisted of four members, who were all policemen- two retired and two serving. The Committee’s terms of reference were very wide and required the Committee to examine challenges that the police would face in the next millennium; to envision a force that would be people friendly and yet able to effectively tackle problems of organised crime, militancyand terrorism; suggest ways to transform the police into a professional and competentforce; identify mechanisms to insulate police from political interference; consider redressal of public grievances and of police grievances; devise ways of securing public trust and cooperation; and examine the need for ‘federal crimes’ and creation of a Federal Law Enforcement Agency.

Malimath Committee

The objective of the Malimath Committee was to suggest whether there is a need to re-write the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or the Indian Evidence Act to fulfil the aspiration of citizens and to accommodate these with changing nature of the crime

Public laws accountability

The Indian Constitution and administrative law provide the foundation for public law liability in relation to police forces. The courts repeatedly held that the police were liable under public legislation and imposed monetary responsibility on the State in compensation for harm incurred in violation of “fundamental rights specified in Part III of the Constitution”, such as the rule of law, “the right to life and freedom, the protection from arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, the protection from discrimination and unequal treatment, and the protection from unequal treatment.” Beginning in the early 1980s, a series of Supreme Court decisions established basic concepts that established monetary compensation as an important remedy for holding a state accountable for police misconduct and misuse of power.

The case of Rudul Sah vs. State of Bihar (1983), in which the Supreme Court’s three- judge bench exercised writ jurisdiction and issued an order to indemnify for violations of Articles 21 and 22 of the Indian Constitution, can be considered a precedent. In this case, the petitioner had been wrongly imprisoned for 14 years following his acquittal. He sought restitution for wrongful incarceration, claiming that his arrest was completely unjustified. Although the petitioner was entitled to demand compensation in a regular civil case, the Supreme Court ruled that it would not merely do justice by issuing a warrant for release and instead had the authority to appeal compensation to the State Government.

The Supreme Court in Sebastian Hongray vs. Union of India”, awarded justice for the torture, agony, and violence of two ladies whose husbands had gone missing when they were being carried by military officers in Manipur to an army base, and because the detaining authority had failed to produce missing persons.

Similarly, in the case of Bhim Singh vs. the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the Supreme Court awarded compensation to the claimant for his unlawfully detained by police. Bhim Singh was a member of the State Legislative Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir. Its aim was to prevent him from attending the Legislative Assembly session scheduled for September 11, 1985, while he was in illegal custody. The court concluded that “there was a clear violation Article 21 and 22(2) by the police officers, who were in turn executing the orders they had received from higher echelons”.

A review of the aforementioned precedents reveals the following points. To begin with, it is self-evident that a violation of fundamental rights as a result of police misconduct can result in liability under public law, in addition to criminal and tort law. Second, for such a violation of fundamental rights, monetary compensation can be awarded. Third, because the State is held liable, the compensation is the responsibility of the State, not the individual police officers found guilty of misconduct. Fourth, the Supreme Court has determined that the burden of proof is high for proving police misconduct such as brutality, torture, and custodial violence, as well as holding the State accountable. Only clear and unmistakable violations of fundamental rights are eligible for such a remedy. Fifth, sovereign immunity does not apply in cases of violations of fundamental rights and, as a result, cannot be used as a defense in public law. The Supreme Court has mostly weighed in on cases involving “extreme police misconduct, such as custodial deaths, police brutality, torture, and forced disappearances”. In cases of clear and “gross violence that shocks the conscience of the court,” courts have repeatedly ordered the State to compensate the victim and the victim’s family. There is no universally accepted method for calculating compensation amounts.

Central Police Forces

The centre maintains various central armed police forces and paramilitary forces, of which four guard India’s borders, and three perform specialised tasks. These are:

Assam Rifles (AR)

Assam Rifles is a Central Paramilitary Force under the Central Armed Police Forces. It came into being in 1835, as a militia called the ‘Cachar Levy’, to primarily protect British Tea estates and their settlements against tribal raids. It significantly contributed to the opening of Assam region to administration and commerce and over time it came to be known as the “right arm of the civil and left arm of the military. Assam Rifles has two battalions stationed in Jammu and Kashmir and one National Disaster Relief Force battalion, which is playing its active role in case of natural calamities.

Border Security Force (BSF)

The BSF is India’s primary border security force. This paramilitary force is one of India’s five Central Armed Police Forces. Its mandate is to guard the country’s land border during peacetime and prevent transnational crime.BSF was designated to answer to the 1965 war with Pakistan when that country attempted to extend its borders at India’s expense. Until that time, the State Armed Police Battalion protected the border with Pakistan. It proved ineffective when faced with Pakistani aggression, and this was when the condition of a specialised armed force for manning India’s borders was realised.

Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP)

The ITBP was raised on 24th October, 1962 during the India-China War and is a border guarding police force specializing in high altitude operations. Presently, ITBP is deployed on border guarding duties from Karakoram Pass in Ladakh to Jachep La in Arunachal Pradesh covering 3488 km of Indo-China Border.ITBP Border Out Posts are of the height upto 18,750 feet where the temperature dips down minus 40 degree Celsius.The Force is also deployed for Anti Naxal operations and other internal security duties. ITBP was initially raised under the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Act, 1949. However, in 1992, parliament enacted the ITBPF Act and the rules were framed in 1994.

Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)

SashastraSeemaBal  Armed border force is a border guarding force of India deployed along its borders with Nepal and Bhutan. It is one of the seven Central Armed Police Forces under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs.The force was originally set up under the name Special Service Bureau in 1963 in the aftermath of the Sino-Indian War to strengthen India's border areas against enemy operations.

Central Industrial Security Force (CISF)

The Central Industrial Security Force is part of the Central Armed Police Forces. It is a police organization designed to facilitate security for industrial units. Under the area of Central Industrial Security Force, more than Three hundreds industrial units fall, to which it provides all types of security. Whether it is prevention for theft, scam, or anything, it protects industries from all such dangers. All the major industrial sectors like space installations, hydroelectric/thermal power plants, oil fields, refineries, and so forth get security from

Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

The mission of the Central Reserve Police Force shall be to enable the government to maintain Rule of Law, Public Order and Internal Security effectively and efficiently to preserve National Integrity & Promote Social Harmony and Development by upholding supremacy of the Constitution. In performing these tasks with utmost regard for human dignity and freedom of the citizens of India, the force shall endeavor to achieve excellence in management of internal security and national calamities by placing Service and Loyalty above self.

National Security Guards (NSG)

Specialised incarrying out counter-terrorism, counter-hijacking andhostage-rescue operations. In addition, it provides VIP security and security for important events.

The centre also maintains several police organisations.14 Key organisations include

Intelligence Bureau (IB)

The IB is the central intelligence agency for all matters related to internalsecurity, including espionage, insurgency and terrorism.

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

The CBI is an investigating agency set up under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946. It is responsible for investigating serious crimes having all India or inter-state ramifications, such as those related to corruption, financial scams and serious fraud and organised crime (e.g., black marketing and profiteering in essential commodities). Typically, the CBI takes up an investigation: (i) on the order of the central government with the consent of state government, and (ii) on the order of the Supreme Court and High Courts.

National Investigation Agency (NIA)

The NIA is an investigating agency set up under the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008. It is responsible for investigating offences against the sovereignty, security and integrity of the country punishable under eight specified laws, such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and the Anti-Hijacking Act, 1982. NIA takes up an investigation on the order of the central government, either on the request of a state government or suomoto (i.e. on the central government’s own authority).

National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB)

The NCRB is an institution that collects and maintains records on crime across the country. It coordinates and disseminates this information to various states, investigating agencies, courts and prosecutors. It also functions as the national storehouse for fingerprint records of convicted persons.

Police accountability

Police forces have the authority to exercise force to enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state. However, this power may be misused in several ways. For example, in India, various kinds of complaints are made against the police including complaints of Unwarranted arrests, Unlawful Searches,Ttorture and Custodial Rapes. To check against such abuse of power, various countries have adopted safeguards, such as accountability of the police to the political executive, internal accountability to senior police officers, and independent police oversight authorities

Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of India

In 1996, a petition was filed before the Supreme Court that raised various instances of abuse of power by the police, and alleged that police personnel perform their duties in a politically partisan manner. The Supreme Court issued its judgement in 2006, ordering the centre and states to set up authorities to lay down guidelines for police functioning, evaluate police performance, decide postings and transfers, and receive complaints of police misconduct. The court also required that minimum tenure of service be guaranteed to key police officers to protect them from arbitrary transfers and postings.

Model Police Act, 2006

The central government set up the Police Act Drafting Committee (Chair: Soli Sorabjee) in 2005 to draft a new model police law that could replace the Police Act, 1861. The committee submitted the Model Police Act in 2006, which was circulated to all the states in 2006. 17 states (Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand) passed new laws or amended their existing laws in light of this new model law.

Police Infrastructure

Modern policing requires advanced weaponry, strong communication support and a high degree of mobility. The CAG and BPRD have noted shortcomings on several things.


It has been found that weaponry is outdated and the process of acquisition is slow which is causing a shortage in arms and ammunitions. It was found in audit of Rajasthan police force (2009-2014) that there was shortage of 75% in the availability of modern weapons. In Gujarat and West Bengal also shortages of 36% and 71% respectively were found in required weaponry.

Police vehicles

Audits have noted that police vehicles are in short supply. New vehicles are often used to replace old vehicles, and there is a shortage of drivers. This affects the response time of the police, and consequently their effectiveness. As of January 2015, state forces had a total of 1,63,946 vehicles, marking a 30.5% deficiency against the required stock of vehicles

Police-public relations

Police requires the confidence, cooperation and support of the community to prevent crime and disorder. For example, police personnel rely on members of the community to be informers and witnesses in any crime investigation. Therefore, Police Public relations is an important concern in effective policing. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that police-public relations is in an unsatisfactory state because people view the police as Corrupt, Inefficient, Politically partisan and unresponsive

Liability under the Criminal Law

In terms of criminal liability, the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1973 (CrPC) gives government employees procedural safeguards to prevent frivolous litigation against officials performing public functions. Sections 197 and 132 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) have been preserved to offer protection to 26 police officers. The above section demands that permission be obtained from the Central or State Government before any disciplinary action is taken against a police officer accused of committing a criminal offence “whether acting or purporting to act within the discharge of his official duties.” Similarly, Section 132 forbids the government from suing police officers for any act allegedly committed under Criminal Procedure Code sections 129 to 131, “which deal with controlling an unlawful meeting that is alleged to have caused a breach of peace.” The convicted police officer is protected under Section 132 if he or she can show that he or she attempted to disperse the unlawful assembly and, when that failed, used force.

In the case of P.P. Unnikrishnan v. Puttiyottil Alikutty,two police officers were accused of unlawfully detaining and torturing a complainant for several days. The Supreme Court’s division bench had to deal with a “defense raised by police officers under Section 64 of the Kerala Police Act, which provides procedural safeguards against legal proceedings brought against police officers acting in good faith in the execution of any duty imposed or authority conferred by the state.” According to the Supreme Court, this clause is based on the reasoning of Section 197 of the Cr.P.C.As a result, the Supreme Court stated in its discussion, the scope of Section 197(1) that, “There must be a reasonable connection between the act and the discharge of official duty; the act must bear such relation to the duty that the accused could lay a reasonable, but not a pretended or fanciful claim, that he did it in the course of the performance of his duty.” The Court also provides an example in which a police officer not only violates his duties, but also acts beyond the scope of his position when he confines a prisoner in lock-up for more than twenty-four hours without the permission of the court or commits assaults, and is thus not protected by the provisions of Section 197 of the Cr.P.C. In a three-day police torture case, a single bench of the Gujarat High Court applied this Section 197 interpretation.

Supreme Court Judgement

The Supreme Court judgement aims to hand the day to day functioning back in to the hands of the police. The seven directives given by the Court have been built upon the myriad strands of improvement generated since 1979. These directives aim to tackle political interference, infuse professionalism and provide accountability for Performance, Misconduct and Criminality in the police. Although the judgement provides impetus to the movement for reforms, it keeps the process open ended. It fails to define the roles and powers of the bodies established by the judgement the existing power structures. The other argument would be that the judiciary must not be burdened with the job of the legislature to provide a framework for these directives. Realistically speaking, in the absence of any political will from the governments or legislatures, it is only natural that the Supreme Court needs to provide better guidance.


In this article, we have looked at history of Police Reforms in India and its scenario after the Independence. Given today’s complex security threats, there is an urgent need for a fast- growing economy like India to have secure surroundings. Terrorism, Cybercrime, and Law and Order issues necessitate the establishment of a large and efficient internal security police force. A review of the police governance structure, the administrative process, and the issues confronting the police force, all of which call for policing reform to be one of the country’s highest priorities.

The issues of Police are the manifestation of the limitations of the Indian political and social setup. Thus, there is a need to carry out Police reforms and incentivise police department to adopt best practices. Along with that, without further delay, there is a need to build an environment where police become an instrument of service to the people.


4.RudulSahvs State of Bihar

5.SebastianHongray vs. Union of India

6.Bhim Singh vs. the State of Jammu and Kashmir

7.P.P. Unnikrishnan v. PuttiyottilAlikutty



10.Oxford English dictionary


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