Central Government Pushes States on Police Reforms

Giving a new lease of life to various recommendations on police reforms, the Centre has written to all the states asking for their feedback and take appropriate action on over four dozen functional areas that may help in improving law and order machinery in the country. Besides making police more responsive to citizens’ concerns, these measures are aimed at infusing a sense of accountability among police personnel through adequate legislative measures and also by insulating them from any kind of interference.

Though a number of such recommendations had attracted public attention in the past couple of years after the Supreme Court intervened in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on police reforms, the majority of suggestions was gathering dust in states’ secretariats. “An elaborate note has been sent to states by the home ministry. States are expected to express their views so that appropriate measures can be taken through consultations,” said an official.

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He said an online system has also been introduced where states can send their opinion and other suggestions electronically to avoid delay. The Centre would initiate the process of taking steps on the suggestions in Union Territories, he added. Some of the measures which are supposed to be implemented by the states at the earliest include abolition of “orderly” system in police department, creating a system of District Attorney to guide investigation of crimes in districts, setting up metropolitan police authorities in all cities that have population of more than one million, establishing an independent Inspectorate of police to carry out performance audit of police stations and introducing a citizen-friendly system of registration of FIRs.

“Since all these recommendations relate to state governments by virtue of ‘law and order’ being state’s subject in Indian Constitution, it require consultations keeping in mind the federal structure of the country,” said the official. Although the orderly system (posting orderlies at the residence of police officers) has been abolished in many states, most of them still practice it by attaching constables for screening visitors, attending to telephone calls and for delivering urgent messages. Taking strong view of this system, the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) and other panels on police reforms had recommended abolishing it completely which they

found not only humiliating for constables but also felt a waste of human resources that had been trained to do core policing jobs. Under the head – Empowering the Cutting Edge Functionaries – the ARC had in 2007, as part of its 165 recommendations on Public Order, also suggested substituting the existing system of constabulary with recruitment of graduates at the level of assistant sub-inspector of police (ASI).

“This changeover could be achieved over a period of time by stopping recruitment of constables and instead inducting an appropriate number of ASIs. Recruitment of constables would, however, continue in the Armed Police”, said the ARC. Seeking to set up Metropolitan Police Authorities in all cities having population above one million, the reform panel expressed that such body should have powers to plan and oversee community policing, improving police-citizen interface and suggesting ways to improve quality of policing. “All these suggestions along with the ARC report have been sent to the states for taking action to improve police functioning,” said the official.

News source: TimesofIndia

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