Facts of the Case:
On 15 November 1977, Government of India constituted a National Police Commission for assessing the role and the performance of the police force both as a law enforcement agency and an institution for protection and promotion of the rights. The Commission conducted were deep studies and analysis which went over for three and half years and submitted its final report in May 1981. In the report, various recommendations were suggested such as inquiry into the reports of police misconduct through a fair and impartial process, introduction of position for ‘Chief of Police’ in the States, constitution of a Statutory Commission in every State which have varied functions for assisting and surveilling the police etc. But the Government of India did not pay any heed to the recommendations and for whatsoever reasons, these recommendations met the same fate as the recommendations of many other commissions. But, meanwhile, a well renowned and recognised police officer who was also awarded with ‘Padma Shri’ filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India essentially for the purpose of police reforms.
Issues before the Bench:
Supreme Court in the judgement ponders over the matter if the police reforms are the pressing necessity of the Indian society or not and what actions can be taken in this regard.
The petitioner in the case cited various authorities to prove its contention that there is dire need of police reforms in India. He drew references from various government agencies and government reports itself and satisfied the bench that police irregularities are excavating the Indian administrative system. Supreme Court observed that in regard to (i) the gravity of the problem, (ii) urgent need for preventing and strengthening rule of law, (iii) the fact that various committees and commissions have also made recommendations in line with introducing police reforms in India, (iv) total uncertainty as to when police reforms would be introduced, (v) pendency of even this petition for 10 years, the phase has come to set out the guidelines for immediate compliance until any new model Police Act is formed by the Central Government or the State Government. The court drew its power by reading Article 32 with the Article 142 of the Constitution of India which empowers the court to issue any such directions which are necessary for the complete justice in any cause or matter.
Supreme Court perused over various reports and in discharge of constitutional duties and obligations issued the following directions:
1. Directed State Governments to constitute a State Security Commission to ensure that the executive does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State Police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State Police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution of the country.
2. the Director General of Police of the State shall be selected by the State Government from amongst the three senior-most officers of the Department based on their length of service, very good record, and range of experience for heading the police force. And, once he has been selected for the job, he should have a minimum tenure of at least two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.
3. Police officers on operational duties in the field like the Inspector General of Police incharge Zone, Deputy Inspector General of Police in-charge Range, Superintendent of Police in-charge District and Station House Officer in-charge of a Police Station shall also have a prescribed minimum tenure of two years.
4. The investigating police shall be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise, and improved rapport with the people.
5. There shall be a Police Establishment Board in each State which shall decide all transfers, postings, promotions, and other service related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.
6. There shall be a Police Complaints Authority at the district level to investigate complaints against police officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, there should be another Police Complaints Authority at the State level to look into complaints against officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above.
7. The Central Government shall also set up a National Security Commission at the Union level to prepare a panel for being placed before the appropriate appointing authority, for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPOs), who should also be given a minimum tenure of two years.
Supreme Court through this case introduced the police reforms in India. It issued various directions to be followed by the Central and State Governments for the betterment of the administration and justice system. It ruled that the police reforms were dire need of the society at that time and its improvement was essential.
This article is written by Naman Aggarwal of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia National Law University.