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Editorial Notes

[Editorial Notes] A force for the Future

The incidents of corruption, extortion, intimidation, regularity of heinous crimes, outdated infrastructure and regressive policing call out for root and branch repair of the police.
By IASToppers
July 21, 2020

Contents

  • Introduction
  • Concerns
  • Structural issues
  • Way Forward
  • Conclusion

A force for the Future

For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here

Introduction:

Due to its humanitarian role during the pandemic, the Police was lauded as the ‘frontline of the frontline’ with its human and sensitive side. Unfortunately, the pendulum has very soon swung to the other extreme by the recent incidents of atrocities by the Police. It showed that the police are still relying on medieval methods in their day to day working and that custodial torture continues to be an area of serious concern.

Concerns:

  • The National Crime Records Bureau records 853 custodial deaths between 2010 to 2018 — 70 of them in 2018 alone.
  • At 1,636, the National Human Rights Commission puts the death figure much higher.
  • And for all this, the conviction rate of policemen is dismal or negligible.
  • Not registering complaints is another common failing in India which can be seen from India’s crime rate.
  • In 2018, it stood at 383.5 per 1,00,000 population; by contrast, the crime rate in the US was over 2,500 per 1,00,000.
  • The low number is not due to the fact that India is a safer and better policed country but reflects the extremely low level of complaints registered.
  • It is common practice in police stations to ignore the statute, laid down processes and Supreme Court guidelines.
  • The brazen disobedience to the law has gradually morphed into accepted practice.
  • This can be seen in the custodial torture or encounter stories that regularly surface.

Structural issues:

1. Shortage of Manpower:

  • There is shortage of manpower in police with vacancies unfilled, short on equipment and upgrades.
  • India’s police to population ratio is 158 per 1,00,000 citizens, one of the worst in the world.
  • Manpower deficits turn into perpetual inefficiencies, contribute to low conviction rates, pressure to solve case which in most of the cases result in artificial branding and long imprisonments for the poor who overcrowd our jails.

2. Lack of proper Training:

  • The police departments are headed by an IPS officer providing the system an anchor at the Central level trained at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (NPA) at Hyderabad.
  • Whereas the Lower-level officials and constables are trained at different state police academies.
  • An IPS officer is trained for about two years, an inspector-level officer receives a year’s training and a constable is trained for nine months.
  • The quality of training varies according to state. But, by and large, officials at the lower rungs only receive basic training for field challenges — human rights issues are not an essential part of their training.
  • This results that the lower rungs still rely on the use of strong-arm tactics that date back to the colonial era.

3. Poor infrastructure:

  • Police officials work 10 to 16 hours, seven days a week, which takes a toll on their health.
  • The Status of Policing in India Report 2019 points out that 70 police stations across 20 states do not have wireless facilities and 214 police stations do not have a telephone.
  • More than 40 per cent of police stations in the country cannot avail the help of forensic technology.
  • All this is bound to affect the functioning of the police and reflect in the ways they engage with the public.

Way Forward:

  • The political nexus of the crime needs to be broken and reforms must start with the political system which debars persons with serious criminal cases from entering the assemblies and the Parliament.
  • The Supreme Court’s directions on police reforms must be implemented.
  • An institution comprising representatives of police/CBI/NIA, Intelligence Bureau, Income Tax department, Revenue Intelligence and Enforcement Directorate should be set up to monitor the activities of mafia and criminal syndicates and ensure stringent action against them.
  • The concept of federal crime, as recommended by the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, should be accepted and offences which have all-India ramifications or are trans-national in character, like those of terrorism and organised crimes, should be brought within its ambit.
  • There is a need to evolve a National Curriculum Framework (NCF) for police education and training, like that for teachers, and medical and engineering services.
  • The curriculum must be informed by discussions at different levels — universities, NPA and the society itself.

Conclusion:

A progressive and democratic society and an aspiring economic superpower cannot be policed by a regressive system. The incidents of corruption, extortion, intimidation, regularity of heinous crimes, outdated infrastructure and regressive policing call out for root and branch repair of the police. The reforms are neededto restore the public confidence in the Police system and fulfil its purpose ‘To protect and serve’.

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