Political Class Can Reform Police Force

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Political Class Can Reform Police Force

Vandana Singh

Be it the Lakhimpur Kheri or Hathras, the Delhi riots or the JNU violence case, or the recent death of a youth in Kasganj police custody, the role of khaki in the last few years has been controversial. In different states of the country, the police are sometimes in the news because of their insensitivity or political leanings, sometimes due to delay in action or corruption. In most of the cases, the police are not able to file the charge sheet in time. In the last 20 years, 1888 people have died in police custody, but only 26 policemen have been punished.

Why is the police system so infamous and bad? When will we take decisive steps towards solving the problems related to this system? If we look closely at the police system, it is understood that on one hand it is struggling with lack of resources and numbers and on the other hand there is a severe lack of sensitivity among the policemen.

The UN recommends that the police-population ratio should be 222 per lakh, which is only 195.39 in the country. In 2017, in reply to a question in Parliament, the Union Minister had told that the police force in the country is about 5 lakh less than its rated capacity. The police of the country’s capital Delhi is also working with a shortage of about 21 percent. According to the report of the Bureau of Police Research and Development, the rated strength of the police in the country is 26.23 lakh, while the actual strength of the police is only 20.91 lakh. This problem persists even today.

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The situation in the capital Delhi is also very bad. About 25 percent of Delhi’s police are engaged in VIP security. Being the capital, most of the big political programs or demonstrations take place here, in which their duty is taken. Most of the cases in Delhi Commission for Women come from the insensitive and bad behavior of the police. The complainants say that many times the police start threatening and intimidating them or do not take any action by taking money from their opponents. Not only this, the political use of the police has also come to the fore. This has necessitated the formation of a State Police Board at the state level, which deals with matters relating to transfer, posting or promotion. Simultaneously, for complaints against the police, police complaint authorities were formed at the state and district levels.

The story of Police Reform in the country started many decades ago, but even today it is waiting for a decisive step. The National Police Commission (1978-82), Padmanabhaiya Committee (2000), Malimath Committee (2002-03) have made suggestions for police reforms. Rebeiro Committee (1998) was also formed on the orders of the Supreme Court to know the progress of action on police reform suggestions by the Central and all the state governments.

On 16 May 2008, the Supreme Court had ordered setting up of a committee headed by Justice KT Thomas to implement the various suggestions made vide its order dated 22 September 2006. In between, the Supreme Court also sought reports on progress from states and union territories. The last hearing of this case was held on 16 December 2012 and the Supreme Court had sought answers from all the states and union territories. The Ministry of Home Affairs submitted its reply on 26 February 2013 through an affidavit. The matter is still pending in the Supreme Court.

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The police system of any country is the first step towards getting justice for the common people there. That’s why it is necessary that our police system is good. We should have adequate police force equipped with modern technology, and it should be sensitive. The police should stay away from political influence. But since police is a state subject, the path of police reform in the country is not so easy. Still, with strong political will, anything is possible. In the absence of political will, the country expects change only from the Hon’ble Supreme Court.

(The author is a member of Delhi Commission for Women.)

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are those of the author.

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