D C Pathak | 28 Aug, 2023
India, under the regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has achieved
a rare success in emerging as a world power whose voice mattered on the
issues of global peace and economic advancement.
However, in the
area of internal governance, the country’s image was getting somewhat
marred primarily because law and order - a subject exclusively falling
in the ambit of responsibility of state governments - was not being
handled well for a variety of reasons of which 'politicisation' of
police was perhaps the most important.
At regular intervals,
cases of public violence of the kind that demonstrated a complete lack
of fear of the law, occurred in one state or the other and heinous
offences against women including a girl child that should shake the
conscience of the nation, threatened to become an ugly trend.
voice for police reforms was consistently raised, a debate was set in
motion about the share of responsibility of the police leadership that
was by and large in the hands of IPS officers and even the highest
judiciary of the land had played a helpful part by laying down
guidelines on the crucial matter of appointment of the Director General
of Police (DGP) of the state.
In no other major country is a
career in police offered - through a merit-based national level
examination prescribed for the educated lot, for selecting IPS officers -
in which a young man or woman was launched at the leadership level
within a couple of years after the initial service training, to manage
and be on the front line of the thousands of Police personnel who served
the state and the district.
Maintenance of law and order is the
first duty of the state regardless of the political complexion of the
ruling elite and the law recognised the investigation of a cognizable
crime as a sovereign function of the Police. And yet if the state
machinery failed often on that front, people must wake up to the threat
that this posed to the democratic system itself.
It is in this
context that Home Minister Amit Shah deserves a huge round of applause
for tabling a comprehensive set of reforms in Parliament in respect of
the basic legal framework contained in IPC, CRPC and Indian Evidence Act
- in the spirit of highlighting the need for a sovereign nation like
India to adopt an integral Code of law of its own, appropriately
disowning any ‘colonial’ legacies and ensuring a uniform system of law
and order management throughout the length and breadth of this country.
apparently set in motion an in-depth examination of this huge task a
long time ago. It is now incumbent on all Indians to take a deep
interest in the future debates in Parliament whenever the proposed laws
come up there for discussion.
The laws have to be 'strong' in the first instance but their implementation also has to be just and 'untainted'.
police leadership has to be professionally effective to ensure that the
handling of order and law both is impartial - being protective of the
law-abiding citizens and capable of producing deterrence for the
While a detailed examination of the new proposed
laws would be going on, one has to appreciate the political boldness and
recognition of national concern shown by the Union Home Minister, in
proposing the death sentence for the rape of a minor as also for
'lynching' which is a crime where a mob beats an individual to death.
considering the fact of anti-India lobbies and misuse of social media
becoming an instrument of 'proxy war' against this country, there was an
urgent need to expand the law to take care of many 'covert' threats
posed to India in the new age we live in.
Of course, the
execution of any law has to be evidence-based and if the use of digital
media was made for causing subversion, fostering terrorism and inciting
separatist violence, admissibility of evidence has to include digital
channels as well.
There are strong laws available for dealing
with hate speeches that incited communal discord but their
implementation was not as prompt - one inadequacy was about the
inability of the police to produce the 'record' of the speech as
The merit of the proposed new laws is that they cater
to the developing national and international scene and fill many legal
gaps in the state's wherewithal to protect citizens against internal and
external threats and thus provide a strong base for the dispensation of
The creation of strong laws has to go with the exercise
of reinforcing the police leadership to ensure impartial management of
law and order and improve the working of police stations which are the
establishment of legal authority closest to the citizens.
of the Indian Police Service like the IAS, are recruited, trained and
allocated to the states by the Centre and there is no reason why through
mid-service orientation programmes organised by the MHA on a national
basis at different Academies and the Rashtriya Raksha University (RRU)
and through the instrumentality of DoP&T which kept track of the
performance of both IAS and IPS an effective oversight of the Centre
could not be maintained on these services for the national good.
Centre would have a legitimate role in the appointment of DGP if the
process of selection for the post prescribed that this would be made
only out of the panel of three drawn by UPSC on the basis of
seniority-cum-merit, in consultation with the state government. This
should be pursued on a more vigorous note as this process had already
been supported by the Supreme Court itself. There should be zero
tolerance towards death in Police custody or the use of ‘Third Degree’
in police interrogation.
The persistent malady of police stations
not registering a complaint of a cognizable offence has kept the image
of police stations low in the eyes of citizens.
In the CRPC, it
is clearly laid down that all senior officers enjoyed the power of
Station House Officer throughout their respective jurisdiction which was
an affirmation that IPS officers were expected to oversee and improve
the working of the police station. This unfortunately had not been
achieved to the desired extent during the long existence of this
It is a matter of great satisfaction that in the
proposed new legal Code, there are provisions of Zero FIR, online
receipt of complaints and admissibility of evidence recorded in digital
The Union Home Minister has shown a good perception of the
need to make the investigation more scientific in prescribing that the
visit of the Forensic Team to the scene of crime would be mandatory in
It goes without saying that a far greater
allocation of funds was needed to ensure all of this - in times of Home
Minister Amit Shah the work of modernisation of Police had been stepped
up, particularly in the field of computerisation and speedy
There are three areas of criminality that the
country's Penal Code had to still work on - they represent the unhappy
outcome of the mismatch that had been created between a competitive
material advancement and the sociological progress that should go with
Of these three, one is the obnoxious 'ragging' in educational
institutions of higher learning that resulted in suicides in many
Acts of criminality in the name of ragging were totally
unacceptable and a set of laws should be framed that put a basic share
of responsibility for the same on the head of that institution as well.
began in Medical Colleges as a practice devised to make the freshers
familiar with the seniors with whom the former had to work closely as a
team and it was totally free of anything that amounted to the use of
The subsequent degeneration of 'ragging' as a
phenomenon in which the 'goons' of the institution had a field day,
calls for enactment of specific laws against what clearly had become a
The second cause for concern - essentially a
case of corruption resulting from the decay of moral values - is the
growing frequency of leakage of question papers of competitive
examinations, by those who were a part of the controlling mechanism.
A separate law is needed to prevent such scams.
finally, the rising graph of induction of children in beggary in
metropolitan centres, in particular, needs to be taken note of - not
only from the angle of poverty alleviation but more importantly for the
likelihood of this having been made a ‘cartel’ activity.
should be a separate listing of this serious crime with exemplary
punishment and police should use Intelligence techniques like
surveillance to reach the culprits.
All of these new kinds of
criminal conduct damage the image of the country, contribute to social
destabilisation and tend to grow in the absence of an effective
deterrent. It might be useful for the MHA to get BPR&D to urgently
examine this matter as a prelude to the introduction of new laws.
the time of Home Minister Amit Shah, serious efforts are being made to
strengthen internal security against the new threats materialising
through misuse of social media and other covert means.
frequency of gruesome murders, attacks on women and cases of public
violence add up to creating an impression of lawlessness that does not
do credit to democratic governance.
Failures of state governments
and state police are spoiling India’s national image before the world
as the outsiders did not understand the federal system of this country
that gave total control to the state over the police and made the Centre
somewhat of a mere observer.
The deterrent punishment provided
by the proposed laws for certain crimes no doubt will help but it is the
efficient and quick investigation of offences that would hold the key
to success on this front - a lot of improvement was needed there. State
governments have to spend more to bring the Police-Public ratio closer
The focus of policing has to be on police stations -
the country should demonstrate this by appointing gazetted officers as
Station House Officers who would be assisted by Inspectors and Sub
Inspectors in various spheres of duty. This would dispense with the old
practise of posting Circle Officers to oversee the SHOs, a contingent of
District Armed Police should be stationed at sensitive police stations
so that Para Military Forces would be needed only in serious
The staff of the District Intelligence Unit should be specifically assigned to important police stations.
mobility for visiting the ‘scene of occurrence’ has to be there- this
remains a glaring weakness even now. Hospitals and public clinics must
respond to any sudden requests emanating from the District SP. There
should be no hesitation about invoking Art 311 of the Constitution
against a ‘rogue’ policeman.
For IPS officers who lead the Police
forces of states, the Centre should reinforce the arrangement that
protects them from any politically motivated action initiated by a state
government against them. By the same logic however, Centre should also
be in a position to reprimand an IPS officer for proven incompetence,
political taint or failure to play his or her part in a situation of
Strong laws, their impartial implementation and consensus
among the politicians to keep law and order and internal security above
party politics, are the three requirements of the eco-system that should
be created to keep democratic governance going.
(The writer is a former Director of the Intelligence Bureau. Views expressed are personal)