Police Reforms In India

[vc_section][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]1. Insight

1.1. Police account for about 3% of government spending

  • While state police forces are responsible for maintaining law and order and investigating crimes, central forces assist them with intelligence and internal security challenges (e.g., insurgencies). Expenditure on police accounts for about 3% of the central and state government budgets.
24% vacancies in state forces; 7% in central forces Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Development; PRS.


Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Development; PRS.

1.2. An overburdened police force

  • State police forces had 24% vacancies (about 5.5 lakh vacancies) in January 2016. Hence, while the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016, the actual strength was 137 police.  Note that the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons. 
  • 86% of the state police comprises of the constabulary. Constables are typically promoted once during their service, and normally retire as head constables.  This could weaken their incentive to perform well.
  • Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015). However, convictions have been low. In 2015, convictions were secured in 47% of the cases registered under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.  The Law Commission has observed that one of the reasons behind this is the poor quality of investigations. 
The utilisation of funds for modernisation (%)


Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Development; PRS.

1.3. Improving police infrastructure

  • CAG audits have found shortages in weaponry with state police forces. For example, Rajasthan and West Bengal had shortages of 75% and 71% respectively in required weaponry with the state police. 
  • The Bureau of Police Research and Development has also noted a 30.5% deficiency in stock of required vehicles (2,35,339 vehicles) with the state forces. 
  • However, funds dedicated to the modernisation of infrastructure are typically not utilised fully. For example, in 2015-16, only 14% of such funds were used by the states.

1.4. Holding police accountable

  • Police has the power to investigate crimes, enforce laws and maintain law and order in a state. To ensure that such power is only used for legitimate purposes, various countries have adopted safeguards such as making police accountable to the political executive and creating independent oversight authorities. 
  • In India, the political executive (i.e., ministers) has the power of superintendence and control over the police forces to ensure their accountability. However, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted that this power has been misused, and ministers have used police forces for personal and political reasons.  Hence, experts have recommended that the scope of the political executive’s power must be limited under the law.

2. Introduction

Under the Constitution, the police is a subject governed by states. Therefore, each of the 29 states has its own police force.  The centre is also allowed to maintain its own police forces to assist the states with ensuring law and order.  Therefore, it maintains seven central police forces and some other police organisations for specialised tasks such as intelligence gathering, investigation, research and record-keeping, and training. 

The primary role of police forces is to uphold and enforce laws, investigate crimes and ensure security for people in the country.  In a large and populous country like India, police forces need to be well-equipped, in terms of personnel, weaponry, forensic, communication and transport support, to perform their role well.  Further, they need to have the operational freedom to carry out their responsibilities professionally, and satisfactory working conditions (e.g., regulated working hours and promotion opportunities), while being held accountable for poor performance or misuse of power.

This report provides an overview of police organisation in India, and highlights key issues that affect their functioning.  Note that the Standing Committee on Home Affairs is also examining two subjects related to organisation and functioning of central and state police forces:

  • “Roadmap for implementation of Police Reforms”, and
  • “Central Armed Police Forces/ Organisations”.

3. Responsibilities of centre and states

The Constitution provides for a legislative and executive division of powers between centre and states.  With regard to police, some of the key matters regulated by centre and states are illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 1: Responsibilities of centre and states with regard to police


Sources: Schedule 7 and Article 355, Constitution of India, 1950; PRS.

The responsibilities of the state and central police forces are different.  State police forces are primarily in charge of local issues such as crime prevention and investigation, and maintaining law and order.  While they also provide the first response in case of more intense internal security challenges (e.g., terrorist incident or insurgency-related violence), the central forces are specialised in dealing with such conflicts.  For example, the Central Reserve Police Force is better trained to defuse large-scale riots with least damage to life and property, as compared to local police.  Further, the central forces assist the defence forces with border protection. 

The centre is responsible for policing in the seven union territories.  It also extends intelligence and financial support to the state police forces. 

Overview of crime in India In 2015, National Crime Records Bureau recorded over 73 lakh complaints of cognizable crimes.  Cognizable crimes are relatively serious offences for which police officers do not need a warrant from the magistrate to investigate, such as murder and rape.  Between 2005 and 2015, crime rate (i.e., crime per lakh population) for cognizable crimes has increased by 28% from 456 complaints per lakh persons to 582 per lakh persons.  This has been primarily because of increase in crime rates of alcohol-prohibition crime, theft, kidnapping and abduction, crimes against women and cheating.Crime rate for various kinds of crimes under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and some special laws (per lakh population)


Note: Crime rate for crimes against women (e.g., rape, cruelty by husband or his relatives, insulting modesty of a woman) is calculated per lakh population of women.Sources: National Crime Records Bureau; PRS.

4. Overview of police organisation and functioning

4.1. State Police Forces

Police forces of the various states are governed by their state laws and regulations.  Some states have modelled their laws on the basis of a central law, the Police Act, 1861. States also have their police manuals detailing how police of the state is organised, their roles and responsibilities, records that must be maintained, etc.

4.1.1. Hierarchy and organisation

State police forces generally have two arms: civil and armed police.  The civil police is responsible for day-to-day law and order and crime control.  Armed police is kept in reserve, till additional support is required in situations like riots.  In this section, we discuss how civil police is organised in the country.

Civil police forces broadly adhere to the hierarchical structure shown in Figure 2.  Every state is divided into various field units for the purpose of effective policing: zones, ranges, districts, sub-divisions or circles, police stations and outposts.  For instance, a state will comprise of two or more zones, each zone will comprise two or more ranges, and ranges will be sub-divided into the other field units in a similar manner.  The key field units in this setup are the police district and the police station.

Figure 2: Hierarchy of state police


Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Development; Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; PRS.

A police district is an area declared so by the state government.  It is considered the most important supervisory and functional unit of police administration because the officer in charge of the district (i.e. Superintendent of Police or SP) has operational independence in matters relating to internal management of the force and carrying out of law and order duties.

A police station (typically headed by an Inspector or Sub-Inspector) is the basic unit of police functioning.  It is engaged with:

  • registration of crimes,
  • local patrolling,
  • investigations,
  • handling of various law and order situations (e.g., demonstrations and strikes),
  • intelligence collection, and
  • ensuring safety and security in its jurisdiction. 

A police station may have several police outposts for patrolling and surveillance.  Generally, the state government in consultation with the head of the state police force (i.e. Director General of Police or DGP) may create as many police stations with police outposts in a district as necessary, in line with the population of the district, the area, the crime situation and the workload.

Figure 3:  Increase in strength of state police forces (1951-2011)


Note: Police per lakh population has been calculated using data for the strength of police and population for the respective years.Sources: Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative; Census of India; PRS.

As of January 2016, the sanctioned strength of the state police forces stood at 22,80,691. Note that the bulk of this force was the constabulary (i.e. 86% are head constables and constables), 13% belonged to the upper subordinate ranks (i.e. Inspector to Assistant Sub-Inspector), and 1% to the officers’ ranks (DGP to the Deputy SP).  Over the last six decades, the overall strength of the state forces has increased substantially.  As Figure 3 shows, police strength rose from 130 per lakh population to 141 per lakh population between 1951 and 2001, at an average growth rate of 2% per decade.  This further increased by 21% to 171 per lakh population between 2001 and 2011.

4.1.2. Superintendence of the executive

The state government exercises control and superintendence over the state police forces. At the district level, the District Magistrate (DM) may also give directions to the SP and supervise police administration.  This is called the dual system of control (as authority is vested in both the DM and SP) at the district level. 

In some metropolitan cities and urban areas, however, the dual system has been replaced by the Commissionerate system to allow for quicker decision-making in response to complex law and order situations.  As of January 2016, 53 cities had this system such as Delhi, Ahmedabad and Kochi.

Table 1: Differences between the dual system of control and the commissionerate system

Dual system Commissionerate system (53 cities)
·   Dual command structure over the district police means that control and direction over the police vests with the SP (head of district police) and the District Magistrate (executive).·   Separation of powers of the DM (e.g., issues arrest warrants and licenses) and the police (e.g., investigate crimes and make arrests).  Therefore, less concentration of power in the police, and accountability to DM at the district level.·   SP is assisted by Additional/Assistant/ Deputy SPs, Inspectors and constabulary. ·   Unified command structure with the Commissioner of Police (rank of the Deputy Inspector General or above) as the sole head of the force within the city.  Allows for quicker responses to law and order situations.·   Powers of policing and magistracy concentrated in Commissioner.  Directly accountable to state government and state police chief.  Lesser accountability to the local administration.·   Commissioner is assisted by Special/ Joint/ Additional/ Deputy Commissioners, etc.  Inspector downwards rank structure is the same.

Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Development; PRS.

4.1.3. Recruitment and Training

Direct recruitment within the state police forces takes place at three levels:

  • Constables,
  • Sub-Inspectors, and
  • Assistant or Deputy SPs.

 The state governments are responsible for recruiting police personnel directly to the ranks of Constables, Sub-Inspectors and Deputy SPs.  The central government recruits Indian Police Service (IPS) officers for the rank of Assistant SP.  IPS is an All India Service created under the Constitution. Vacancies at other positions (as well as at the ranks of Sub-Inspector and Assistant/ Deputy SPs) may be filled up through promotions. 

Figure 4: Expenditure by states on police over the last decade


Note: Includes expenditure on union territories.Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Organisation; PRS.

Training of the police forces is carried out in various kinds of state training institutes.  For example, states have:

  • apex institutes to train officers (i.e., Deputy or Assistant SP and above rank personnel),
  • police training schools for subordinate ranks and the constabulary, and
  • specialized schools for specific police units like traffic, wireless and motor vehicle driving. 

In addition, some national training institutes run courses for capacity building of state forces (e.g., Central Detective Training Schools in Kolkata, Hyderabad, Chandigarh, Ghaziabad and Jaipur).

4.1.4. Expenditure

In 2015-16, states (excluding union territories) spent Rs 77,487 crore on state police forces, including on salaries, weaponry, housing and transport. Bulk of this expenditure was on revenue items, like salaries, because police is a personnel-heavy force.  Expenditure on police formed 3% of the total budget for states (i.e. Rs 27,20,716 crore).  On an average, in the last decade expenditure on police has been increasing at a rate of 15% per year, though the annual growth has fluctuated widely (4% in 2012-13, 30% in 2009-10). 

Overview of internal security situation in 2016, the South Asia Terrorism Portal recorded that there were 898 terrorism and insurgency-related fatalities in India.  Of these, 48% fatalities were due to Left Wing Extremism, 30% due to violence in Jammu and Kashmir, and 18% due to insurgency in the North East.  Between 2005 and 2016, overall fatalities due to extremist violence decreased at an annual rate of 11% from 3,259 in 2005 to 898 in 2016.  Typically, central police forces are called in to address such internal security challenges.

Years Jammu and Kashmir Insurgency in North East Left Wing Extremism Other fatalities due to Extremist Violence Total
2005 1,739 717 717 86 3,259
2006 1,116 637 737 280 2,770
2007 777 1,036 650 152 2,615
2008 541 1,051 648 356 2,596
2009 375 852 997 7 2,231
2010 375 322 1,180 25 1,902
2011 183 246 602 42 1,073
2012 117 316 367 3 803
2013 181 252 421 30 884
2014 193 465 314 4 976
2015 174 273 251 24 722
2016 267 165 433 33 898

Sources: South Asia Terrorism Portal; PRS.

4.2. 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):  Guards India’s borders with Myanmar.
  • Border Security Force (BSF):  Guards India’s borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.
  • Indo Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP):  Guards the border with China.
  • Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB):  Guards India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan. 
  • Central Industrial Security Force (CISF):  Provides security to critical infrastructure installations, such as airports, atomic power plants, defence production units and oil fields. 
  • Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF):  Deployed for law and order, counter-insurgency, anti-naxal and communal violence operations. 
  • National Security Guards (NSG):  Specialised in carrying out counter-terrorism, counter-hijacking and hostage-rescue operations.  In addition, it provides VIP security and security for important events.

Note that the border-guarding forces are occasionally deployed for counter-insurgency operations and internal security duties as well.

Figure 5: Sanctioned strength of central forces in 2016, compared with strength in 2006


* Strength of NSG in 2006 is not available.

Sources:  Bureau of Police Research and Development; PRS.

The total sanctioned strength of the seven central police forces is about 9.7 lakh personnel. Of these, the largest forces are the CRPF (3 lakh personnel), the BSF (2.6 lakh) and the CISF (1.4 lakh).  As seen in Figure 5, the sanctioned strength of the central police forces (excluding the NSG, data for which was unavailable) has increased by 37% over the last decade (2006-2016).  The ITBP (146% increase) and the SSB (100% increase) have experienced the maximum increase in this period. 

Expenditure on the central forces has also been increasing at an average annual rate of 15% over the years (2005-06 to 2015-16).  In 2015-16, the centre spent Rs 43,870 crores on the central forces, with the maximum share going to the three largest forces (CRPF: 33%, BSF: 26% and CISF: 13%).

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

  • Intelligence Bureau (IB): The IB is the central intelligence agency for all matters related to internal security, 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:
  • on the order of the central government with the consent of state government, and
  • 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 suo moto (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.
  • Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD): The BPRD was set up with the mandate to identify the needs and problems of the police forces in the country.  Its responsibilities include:
  • promoting use of science and technology in police work,
  • monitoring and assisting with the training needs of police forces,
  • assisting state police forces with modernization, and
  • assisting the centre in developing quality standards with respect to police equipment and infrastructure.
  • Training Academies: Two key national training academies that come under the central government are the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy and the North Eastern Police Academy.  The Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy in Hyderabad is responsible for conducting training courses for IPS officers, and for trainers of various police training institutions in the country.  The North Eastern Police Academy in Meghalaya is responsible for training police personnel of the north east states.

5. Some issues

Figure 6: Expert bodies that have examined police reforms


Source: PRS.

Various expert bodies have examined issues with police organisation and functioning over the last few decades. In this section, we discuss some of these issues. 

5.1. 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, torture 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.

5.1.1. Accountability to the political executive vs operational freedom

Both the central and state police forces come under the control and superintendence of the political executive (i.e., central or state government). The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) has noted that this control has been abused in the past by the political executive to unduly influence police personnel, and have them serve personal or political interests. This interferes with professional decision-making by the police (e.g., regarding how to respond to law and order situations or how to conduct investigations), resulting in biased performance of duties.

To allow the police greater operational freedom while ensuring accountability, various experts have recommended that the political executive’s power of superintendence over police forces be limited. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that this power be limited to promoting professional efficiency and ensuring that police is acting in accordance with law.  Alternatively the National Police Commission (1977-81) suggested that superintendence be defined in the law to exclude instructions that interfere with due process of law, or that influence operational decisions, or that unlawfully influence police personnel transfers, recruitments, etc.  The Supreme Court has also issued directions to states and the centre in 2006 in this regard.

Directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh vs Union of IndiaIn 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. A summary of the Supreme Court judgement and its implementation are provided in the Annexure.Sources: Unstarred Question No. 1975, Rajya Sabha, December 16, 2015; Unstarred Question 2420, Lok Sabha, August 4, 2015; Prakash Singh vs Union of India; PRS.

5.1.2. Independent Complaints Authority

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Supreme Court have observed that there is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into cases of police misconduct. This may be because the political executive and internal police oversight mechanisms may favour law enforcement authorities, and not be able to form an independent and critical judgement.

For example, the United Kingdom has an Independent Office for Police Conduct, comprising of a Director General appointed by the crown, and six other members appointed by the executive and the existing members, to oversee complaints made against police officers.  Another example is that of the New York City Police which has a Civilian Complaint Review Board comprising of civilians appointed by local government bodies and the police commissioner to investigate into cases of police misconduct.

India has some independent authorities that have the power to examine specific kinds of misconduct.  For example, the National or State Human Rights Commission may be approached in case of human rights violations, or the state Lokayukta may be approached with a complaint of corruption.

However, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has noted the absence of independent oversight authorities that specialise in addressing all kinds of police misconduct, and are easily accessible.  In light of this, under the Model Police Act, 2006 drafted by the Police Act Drafting Committee (2005), and the Supreme Court guidelines (2006), states are required to set up state and district level complaints authorities.

Model Police Act, 2006The 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.  Key features of the Model Police Act are mentioned in the Annexure.Sources: Model Police Act, 2006; Unstarred Question No. 1451, Lok Sabha, May 3, 2016; PRS.

The Model Police Act requires state authorities to have five members: a retired High Court Judge, a retired police officer of the rank of DGP from another state cadre, a retired officer with public administration experience from another state, a civil society member and a person with at least 10 years of experience as a judicial officer or lawyer or legal academic.  It also requires district level authorities to have retired judges, police officers, practising lawyers, etc. 

Note that of 35 states and UTs (excluding Telangana), two states had not made laws or issued notifications regarding setting up of the police complaints authorities (i.e., Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh) as of August 2016.  Among the remaining states, some had not set up a state authority, and several had not set up district level authorities.  A report of the NITI Aayog also shows that the composition of these authorities is at variance with the Model Police Act, 2006 and the Supreme Court directions.  For example, district level authorities in Bihar and Gujarat only have government and police officials.  Further, in many states complaints authorities do not have the power to issue binding recommendations.

5.2. Vacancies and an overburdened force

Currently there are significant vacancies within the state police forces and some of the central armed police forces.  As of January 2016, the total sanctioned strength of state police forces across India was 22,80,691, with 24% vacancies (i.e. 5,49,025 vacancies).  Vacancies have been around 24%-25% in state police forces since 2009. States with the highest vacancies in 2016 were Uttar Pradesh (50%), Karnataka (36%), West Bengal (33%), Gujarat (32%) and Haryana (31%).

In the same year, the total sanctioned strength of the seven central police forces was 9,68,233.  7% of these posts (i.e. 63,556 posts) were however lying vacant.  Sashastra Seema Bal (18%), Central Industrial Security Force (10%), Indo-Tibetan Border Police (9%) and National Security Guards (8%) had relatively high vacancies.  Vacancies in the central police forces have been in the range of 6%-14% since 2007.

A high percentage of vacancies within the police forces exacerbates an existing problem of overburdened police personnel.  Police personnel discharge a range of functions related to:

  • crime prevention and response (e.g., intelligence collection, patrolling, investigation, production of witnesses in courts),
  • maintenance of internal security and law and order (e.g., crowd control, riot control, anti-terrorist or anti-extremist operations), and
  • various miscellaneous duties (e.g., traffic management, disaster rescue and removal of encroachments). 

Each police officer is also responsible for a large segment of people, given India’s low police strength per lakh population as compared to international standards.  While the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons, India’s sanctioned strength is 181 police per lakh persons. After adjusting for vacancies, the actual police strength in India is at 137 police per lakh persons.  Therefore, an average policeman ends up having an enormous workload and long working hours, which negatively affects his efficiency and performance. 

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended that one way to reduce the burden of the police forces could be to outsource or redistribute some non-core police functions (such as traffic management, disaster rescue and relief, and issuing of court summons) to government departments or private agencies  These functions do not require any special knowledge of policing, and therefore may be performed by other agencies.  This will also allow the police forces to give more time and energy to their core policing functions.

5.3. Constabulary-related issues

5.3.1. Qualifications and training: 

The constabulary constitutes 86% of the state police forces.  A constable’s responsibilities are wide-ranging, and are not limited to basic tasks.  For example, a constable is expected to exercise his own judgement in tasks like intelligence gathering, and surveillance work, and report to his superior officers regarding significant developments.  He assists with investigations and is also the first point of contact for the public.  Therefore, a constable is expected to have some analytical and decision-making capabilities, and the ability to deal with people with tact, understanding and firmness. 

The Padmanabhaiah Committee and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have noted that the entry level qualifications (i.e. completion of class 10th or 12th in many states) and training of constables do not qualify them for their role.  One of the recommendations made in this regard has been to raise the qualification for entry into the civil police to class 12th or graduation.  It has also been recommended that constables, and the police force in general, should receive greater training in soft skills (such as communication, counselling and leadership) given they need to deal with the public regularly. 

5.3.2. Promotions and working conditions: 

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has further noted that the promotion opportunities and working conditions of constables are poor, and need to be improved. Generally a constable in India can expect only one promotion in his lifetime, and normally retires as a head constable, which weakens his incentive to perform well.  This system may be contrasted with that in the United Kingdom, where police officers generally start as constables and progress through each rank in order. Further, in India sometimes superiors employ constables as orderlies to do domestic work, which erodes their morale and motivation, and takes them away from their core policing work.  The Commission recommended that the orderly system be abolished across states.

5.3.3. Housing: 

Importance of providing housing to the constabulary (and generally to the police force) to improve their efficiency and incentive to accept remote postings has also been emphasised by expert bodies, such as the National Police Commission. This is because in remote and rural areas, private accommodation may not be easily available on rent.  Even in metropolitan areas, rents may be prohibitively high, and adequate accommodation may not be available in the immediate vicinity of the police stations affecting their operational efficiency. 

5.4. Crime investigation 

A core function of the state police forces and some central police agencies like the CBI is crime investigation.  Once a crime occurs, police officers are required to record the complaint, secure the evidence, identify the culprit, frame the charges against him, and assist with his prosecution in court so that a conviction may be secured.  In India, crime rate has increased by 28% over the last decade, and the nature of crimes is also becoming more complex (e.g., with emergence of various kinds of cybercrimes and economic fraud).  Conviction rates (convictions secured per 100 cases) however have been fairly low.  In 2015, the conviction rate for crimes recorded under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was 47%. The Law Commission has observed that one of the reasons behind this is the poor quality of investigations.

Crime investigation requires skills and training, time and resources, and adequate forensic capabilities and infrastructure.  However, the Law Commission and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission have noted that state police officers often neglect this responsibility because they are understaffed and overburdened with various kinds of tasks. Further, they lack the training and the expertise required to conduct professional investigations.  They also have insufficient legal knowledge (on aspects like admissibility of evidence) and the forensic and cyber infrastructure available to them is both inadequate and outdated.  In light of this, police forces may use force and torture to secure evidence.  Further, while crime investigations need to be fair and unbiased, in India they may be influenced by political or other extraneous considerations.  In light of these aspects, experts have recommended that states must have their own specialized investigation units within the police force that are responsible for crime investigation. These units should not ordinarily be diverted for other duties.

Underreporting of crime in IndiaThe National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) under the Ministry of Home Affairs is the nodal agency for collection and dissemination of information related to crime in India.  The NCRB publishes an annual report called Crime in India, that records crime on the basis of the FIRs registered in the police stations across the country.  It is the only official source of crime data in India, and it records among other things crime committed state-wise and offence-wise (e.g., murder, rape, cheating, theft).An expert committee under the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation has noted that there is significant under-reporting of crimes under the NCRB for various reasons.  For example, there could be suppression of data and low registration of crimes because the police know that their work is judged on the basis of this information.  Also, sometimes victims of crime may decide against reporting the incident with the police because they are afraid to approach the police, or think the crime is not serious enough, etc.  Also, note that the NCRB follows the ‘principal offence rule’ for counting crime.  This means that if many offences are covered in a single registered criminal case, the NCRB will only count the most heinous of the offences.  For instance, a case of murder and rape, will only be counted as a case of murder (i.e. principal offence) by the NCRB.Sources: Report of the Committee on Crime Statistics, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, 2012; National Crime Records Bureau; PRS.

With regard to forensic infrastructure in the country, it may be noted that currently India has seven Central Forensic Science Laboratories, 30 State Laboratories, 50 Regional Laboratories and 144 District Mobile Laboratories.  These laboratories conduct scientific analysis of ballistics, bodily fluids, computer records, documents, explosives, fingerprints, narcotics and voice identification, among other things. Expert bodies have however said that these laboratories are short of funds and qualified staff. Further, there is indiscriminate referencing of cases to these labs resulting in high pendency. 

5.5. Police infrastructure 

Modern policing requires a strong communication support, state-of-art or modern weapons, and a high degree of mobility.  The CAG and the BPRD have noted shortcomings on several of these fronts.

5.5.1. Weaponry: 

The CAG has found that weaponry of several state police forces is outdated, and the acquisition process of weapons slow, causing a shortage in arms and ammunition. An audit of the Rajasthan police force (2009 to 2014) concluded that there was a shortage of 75% in the availability of modern weapons against the state’s own specified requirements.  The same audit also found that even when weapons were procured, a large proportion of them (59%) were lying idle because they had not been distributed to the police stations.  Similar audits in West Bengal and Gujarat found shortages of 71% and 36% respectively in required weaponry.

5.5.2. 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 (2,35,339 vehicles).

5.5.3. Police Telecommunication Network (POLNET): 

The POLNET project was initiated by the central governed in 2002 to connect the police and paramilitary forces of the country through a satellite based communication network, that will be significantly faster than the existing system of radio communications.  However, audits have found that the POLNET network is non-functional in various states. For example, an audit of the Gujarat police force reported that the network had not been operationalised till October 2015 due to non-installation of essential infrastructure, such as remote subscriber units and generator sets.  The audit also noted that there were 40%-50% vacancies in key segments of trained personnel, such as radio operators and technicians, needed to operate the equipment.

Figure 7: Utilisation of funds for modernisation (%)


Sources: Bureau of Police Research and Development; PRS.

5.5.4. Underutilisation of funds for modernisation: 

Both centre and states allocate funds for modernisation of state police forces.  These funds are typically used for strengthening police infrastructure, by way of construction of police stations, purchase of weaponry, communication equipment and vehicles.  However, there has been a persistent problem of underutilisation of modernisation funds.  For example, in 2015-16, the centre and states allocated Rs 9,203 crore for modernisation.  However, only 14% of it was spent. 

5.6. 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.

One of the ways of addressing this challenge is through the community policing model.  Community policing requires the police to work with the community for prevention and detection of crime, maintenance of public order, and resolving local conflicts, with the objective of providing a better quality of life and sense of security.  It may include patrolling by the police for non-emergency interactions with the public, actively soliciting requests for service not involving criminal matters, community based crime prevention and creating mechanisms for grassroots feedback from the community.  Various states have been experimenting with community policing including Kerala through ‘Janamaithri Suraksha Project’, Rajasthan through ‘Joint Patrolling Committees’, Assam through ‘Meira Paibi’, Tamil Nadu through ‘Friends of Police’, West Bengal through the ‘Community Policing Project’, Andhra Pradesh through ‘Maithri and Maharashtra through ‘Mohalla Committees’.

Examples of community policing in IndiaJanamaithri Suraksha in KeralaThis project is an initiative of the Kerala Police to facilitate greater accessibility, close interaction and better understanding between the police and local communities.  For example, Beat Constables are required to know at least one family member of every family living in his beat area, and allocate some time to meet with people outside the police station every week.  Janamaithri Suraksha Committees are also formed with municipal councillors, representatives of residents’ associations, local media, high schools and colleges, retired police officers, etc. to facilitate the process.Meira Paibi (Torch-bearers) in AssamThe women of the Manipuri Basti in Guwahati help with improving the law and order problem in their area, by tackling drug abuse among the youth.  They light their torches and go around the basti guarding the entry and exit points, to prevent the youth of the area from going out after sunset.Sources: Model Police Manual, Bureau of Police Research and Development; Kerala Police Website; PRS.

You can refer to the original article here (https://prsindia.org/policy/analytical-reports/police-reforms-india)

*Source: PRS Legislative Research[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][/vc_section]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top