it’s high time states introduce police reforms

‘police’ falls under the state list of the constitution of india, so does ‘public order’, and they are the top entries in this list, signifying their relative importance over other functions of the government. defence of india and armed forces occupy the top position in union list, and criminal law and procedure are the top entries in concurrent list. the makers of the constitution and those who numbered these entries made an implicit statement by doing so.

the supreme court has directed states to introduce sweeping police reforms, recognizing that police is the first point of contact in case of any grievance. be it a burglary or assault, cheating or encroachment, police is the foremost agency to be relied upon.

a committee set up by the home ministry of india submitted a draft model police act in 2006, which was circulated to states so that the recommendations, ranging from infusing accountability to fixed tenure and functional autonomy for the police, could be adopted by respective state governments through amendment of existing (rather archaic) police act.

while many states did amend their acts to incorporate suggestions of the soli j sorabjee-chaired committee, guidelines were diluted so that political control over police could remain intact. states are still to pay heed to the call of police reforms, evidently because of their reliance on police personnel for extortion of illicit money and for compromising with investigations involving politicians, political workers and party-specific votebanks.

the political landscape of the country has seen a revolution in past few years with talks and promises of development overshadowing caste appeasement and freebies. why then delay the most crucial reform, a change that is assuredly the foremost step toward development?

it is high time that sweeping police reforms are undertaken by respective state governments and most importantly, the investigation wing is separated from law and order enforcement wing. while the prime minister has been advocating transparency in country’s financial transactions, similar stance is needed in law and order enforcement.

with an accountable and liberated from political pressures police force, not just elimination of crime will be a product, it will also boost the gdp growth rate, more than what is promised by the gst act or impending labour reforms.