Mains 2016 Initiative

Mains 2016: 10 Years of Police Reforms – How far have we reached



On September 22, 2006, the apex court passed an order in the case of Prakash Singh vs Union of India directing all states, Union territories and the Centre to bring in police reforms.


  1. The National Crime Records Bureau report says that Indiafaces a shortage of 0.5 million policemen. The current police strength is 1.73 million against the sanctioned strength of 2.24 million.
  2. India has one of the lowest rate of police officers per capita- 5 per 100,000 people.
  3. Police (public order) is a state subject under seventh schedule of Indian Constitution.
  4. 35,831 cases were registered against the police with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in 2015-16.

Present situation (of Police):

  1. The structure of Indian police is still on the basis of colonial Indian Police Act of 1861.
  2. Some states have made a few modification in the above act e.g. Bombay Police act of 1951, Karnataka Police act of 1963, Delhi police act of 1978 etc. But all of them are patterned on the model of old 1861 Police act.
  3. It is understaffed and untrained.
  4. Police lack many of the technological capabilities necessary to perform quality investigations.
  5. Politicization of police forces especially at higher level (CBI as caged parrot remark by Supreme Court).
  6. Unwillingness of authorities (state governments) to reform police forces.

Committees constituted for the Police Reform:

  1. Gore committee on police training in 1971-73
  2. National police commission 1977, recommendations related to organisation, structure, corruption, accountability and modernisation of police forces.
  3. Ribeiro committee 1998 was setup on the orders of Supreme Court.
  4. In 2000, the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms was constituted to study, inter alia, recruitment procedures for the police force, training, duties and responsibilities, police officers’ behaviour, police investigations and prosecution.
  5. Police Act Drafting Committee setup by GoI, headed by Soli Sorabji.

Supreme Court’s direction in Prakash Singh vs Union Of India Case, 2006:

  • Constitution of State Security Commission to:
    1. Ensure that the state government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the police
    2. Lay down broad policy guideline and
    3. Evaluate the performance of the state police
  • Ensure that the DGP is appointed through merit based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years;
  • Ensure that other police officers on operational duties are also provided a minimum tenure of two years;
  • Separation of investigation function from law and order;
  • Constitution of a Police Establishment Board in each state;
  • Establishment of State and District Complaints Authorities;
  • Constitution of a National Security Commission.

Status of implementation:

  1. Many states have constituted State Security Commission but its composition reflects deviation by way of exclusion of either the leader of opposition or the judicial element or both.
  2. Most of the States have been sticking to the earlier existing procedure of selection, without even laying down any merit-based, transparent criteria for the same. Also, nothing has been done regarding tenure.
  3. Directive 3 is also not implemented by almost all the states.
  4. Some states have tried to implement directive 4 by passing an executive order. But no concrete steps have been taken to implement that on ground level.
    • Separation of investigation from law and order requires additional police forces. Some states have taken steps to sanction additional forces and promised to implement the fourth directive.
  5. The Police Establishment Boards (Directive No. 5) have been created in most of the States but their effectiveness has been questioned by the civil society groups.
  6. The Police Complaints Authorities (Directive No. 6) have not been created in most of the States so far. Even in the States which have claimed compliance to this directive, it is yet to be put in place at the ground level.
  7. Home ministry of central Government has taken some steps, but more or less they are as ineffective as it is with the situations of other 6 directives.

On May 17, 2008, the SC constituted a monitoring committee headed by Justice KT Thomas to oversee the implementation of its directions. The Committee observed that “practically no state has fully complied with those directives so far, in letter and spirit”. It also expressed its “dismay over the total indifference to the issue of reforms in the functioning of police being exhibited by the States”.


Role of High Courts in implementation of directions of SC:

  1. In Uttar Pradesh around 751 police personnel petitioned the Allahabad High Court challenging their transfer, saying that it had not been effected by the Police Establishment Board. The court set aside the transfers and termed them illegal as they were not in consonance with the judgement of the Supreme Court.
  2. The Madras High Court had quashed the appointment of Letika Saran as DGP of Tamil Nadu on the grounds that the Supreme Court guidelines, in the Prakash Singh judgement, had not been followed in the appointment process.

The Supreme Court had recently directed all states to publish online FIRs within 24 hours after registration. Cases pertaining to child abuse, sexual offences and terrorism are exempted from this rule.


It is imperative that more needs to be done than mere structural changes within the system. Community involvement, problem oriented policing and proactive policing strategies need to be adopted in the changing scenario of society. Also, it is essential to look at the police as a service organization. Proper functioning of police forces is crucial for the rule of law to prevail in any society. It is also a critical requisite for ensuring the Fundamental Rights of the people enshrined and guaranteed under our Constitution.


  1. Reforms that never come, editorial, The Hindu
  2. 10 years and waiting, MajaDaruwala, Opinion section in Indian Express
  3. NCRB official website.
  4. Commission, court and contempt, article by NamitSaxena in livelaw.

This Article is a part of ForumIAS Mains 2016 Initiative. For a list of all articles that will be published on ForumIAS Portal for Mains, visit


Print Friendly