Posted on: September 22, 2020 Posted by: admin Comments: 0

Author: Priyansh Agarwal, Student at NUJS, Kolkata


“Failing to indict a criminal sitting president sends the message that those in power are above the law.”

― DaShanne Stokes

Criminal justice system of our country India or for instance any other country’s significantly depends upon the proficiency of its easily visible component i.e. the police of that country, who is imperative for the maintenance of law and order in the society. The police are one of the three branches on which the criminal justice system depends; the other two being is the judiciary and the prosecution. [1] The investigation or the other duties which are performed by the police in the criminal cases are pertinent to render justice to those who are under trials. In fact, the police are considered as the backbone in functioning of the Indian bureaucracy.[2]

Police department of our country has been infamous due to its functioning and has been questioned time to time for their misconducts due to the several factors including the human rights violation by them and the accountability of the police personnel to the political executives.[3] This is one of the several other department through which the British kingdom formed their strong foundation in India.[4] The police and administrative departments which were formed by the British remained intact at the time of independence.[5]

Our current police system has been at many times observed to be working for the affluent and influential. The flaws in the police system are not really new and have been existing since the century back. The police reforms, despite much eagerness, which on several occasions took decade to come into effect, have exponentially impacted our criminal justice system which otherwise would have been there. Interest of the Central and State government to bring into existence the new reforms has never been effectively introduced and hence the statute remained flaw as in its effectiveness.[6] In this paper we will look upon the factors which are responsible for the poor functioning of the department and I’ll try to discover the flaws that are still the part of the current police system of our country and their possible resolutions through the inspection of various committee reports’ recommendations and few of the case laws.


This project will critically examine the reforms that are brought-in the law enforcement system (police) within which we would be critiquing the various problems which exist in the police system and then how reforms in the system have been brought in our country, the paper has also considered to look forward in creating a bridge between the other problems which exist due to the poor functioning of the Law enforcement.  Time and again there have been complaints against the police personals due to their ineffective temperament, foul investigations due to the influence of politicians and those in power. Due to which there is an urgent need of practicing what the reforms has brought-in. The research will include analysis of several reports of the various committees and few case laws.

The police department has a really imperative role to play within the society to maintain law and order so as to deter the miscreants from doing their part. There is always a sense of security which police has to maintain everywhere. In a country with a huge population, India needs a lot of police force with few reforms which have already been incorporated in the system and few among others which are still pending or needed to be brought in.

Basically the thorough analysis of what I think would be doing in this paper is briefed above.


The Police Act in India comes back from 1861 as a highlight, when the British govt in India after the 1857 revolt formed the Police commission of 1860 to officially draft the police act to put in place the organised Police force. Police department was put in under the constitutional responsibility of State to bring upon the law and order in an organised manner and to shield the interest of the individuals.[7] It should not be forgotten that this impugned act of 1861 in question is not the only governing law of the land for the efficient working of the police, acts like Prevention of terrorist activities (POTA, repealed later), Unlawful Activities prevention Act (UAPA),  Control of Organised Crimes(COCA) etc are also regulated under this act of 1861.[8] There is no contention about the fact that when Indian Police Act of 1861 (often regarded as British Police Act of 1861) was passed then at that time India was not governed by the specific representative. And it is also understood and seen that this act of 1861 with regards to the police regulation system continued to persist even after the independence of India.

Few Indian states had their own police Act for their cities such as Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Delhi and it must also be taken into account that those acts which regulate the police in these cities are essentially based on the Indian Police Act of 1861.[9] However, it was believed by the people that those who will take up charge of power, after the British throne rule in India, will bring-in the new reforms in the interest of the people of the society but it turned out to be naïve anticipation on the part of the people.[10] For instance, ‘sedition’ was put in the Indian Penal Code to restrict the anti-British activities taken up by the people for the independence of India, due to which even Mahatma Gandhi was put in prison in 1922 and to which he said that it will be defiance of his nationalist duty if he plead not guilty for sedition. This draconian law continued to exist in the Modern India even after its independence.[11]

It all started in 1959, when the reformation in Law enforcement system was taken into consideration by State of Kerala and instituted Kerala Police Reorganisation Committee.[12] However due to inevitable circumstances the committee was unexpectedly ended the next year in 1960.[13]

The National police commission of 1977-81 understood the necessity of the reforms that were vital to be introduced into the Indian Police Act of 1861 and hence in its 8th report in 1981, drafted and suggested the need of enacting the Model Police Act.[14] The committee went on to further suggest that to put a halt on the powers of the politicians that interfere in the commission or investigation of a fair trial, or that create an impediment in fulfilling the due process of law, or that control the  illegitimate transfer or the recruitment in the police system.[15] The committee goes on to evidently understand the rationale of the Indian Police Act of 1861 and made the conclusion that the impugned Act was not essentially made to disburse the justice out but to make sure that police system remains under the control of the government executives and follow their commands.[16] For this, the committee gave a particular indication of section 23 of the Indian police act of 1861, wherein, it was said that “it would be a duty of the police officer to consider every order lawful given by the competent authority without any and to obey all the commands without any prerequisite of any warrant”.[17]

In 1998, Ribeiro Committee was set up after the directions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Singh v. Union of India, which gave its first report in October 1998, in which the committee suggested several recommendations. It recommended that a State Security Commission should be set up with its chairman being the “Minister in-charge of the police” and members being “the Chief Secretary of the state, leader of opposition, sitting or retired judge of the High Court who has to be appointed by the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court and 3 other people from non-political background which are chosen by the panel formed by the chairman of the NHRC”.[18] The aim of the commission was to track the performance of the police so as to ensure that the police render the responsibility to make certain the implementation of the law of the land.[19] Moreover the commission suggested a constitution of a “District Police Complaints Authority” which would be a non statutory body on a district level for keeping the check on the abuse of power by police, like arbitrary detention or custodial violence, by probing the complaints from the general public.[20] Institutionalisation of Police Establishment board was also suggested so as to keep an eye on the transfers and recruitment of the police personnel’s including any other matter associated with the service.[21]

Ribeiro Committee submitted its second report in 1999, where the committee basically suggested the implementation of the recommendations of the “National Police Committee 1977-81” except the need of State Security Commission at the Centre level and said that the requirement of this commission at Centre is of no need since the institutions like IB, BSF, CRPF and CBI has nothing to do with the politicians.[22]Vohra Committee’s” recommendation of the nodal cell institution was also asked to be implemented by the committee. It also suggested that the education qualification for recruiting the constable must be minimum higher secondary and the proper implementation of Police Recruitment Board in every State.[23]

After which, the Padmanabhaiah Committee was set-up by home ministry in 2000, and Shri K. Padmanabhaiah was given the charge for the chairmanship of the committee. The committee examined the various aspects of the police service such as the recruitment procedure, temperament of police officers, their trainings and duties, police investigations et al. In its report, the committee put forward the total of 99 recommendations so as to bring in the above examined areas including their appointment in the police system.[24]

In 2002-03, Malimath Committee was formed and Central Government appointed Dr. Justice V.S. Malimath as the chairman of the committee. The committee essentially worked upon examining the training procedures of the police workforce and how to give a face-lift in the training framework. The committee follows up with recommending the enactment of the New Police Act, State Security Commission among others.[25] In total there were 158 recommendations that were given by this committee but unfortunately not all of them ever implemented although some of them have become laws like recording of video at the time taking statements.[26]

Since a lot of Commissions and Committees have given their recommendations and suggestion for bringing up the reformation in law enforcement system for its better efficacy and proficiency nevertheless there was no check on the part that what all recommendations were ever implemented. So, to make an analysis on the implementation of the recommendations given by several committees, in 2004, a Review Committee was set-up by the Home Ministry. After thorough examination, the committee came up with the 49 recommendations that are imperative for making a robust law enforcement system. The recommendations were primarily for the transformation in training of the Police Personnel, redressal of the complaints against police, their working environment, New Police Act implementation at the earliest etc.[27]

In 2005, the much awaited Police Act Drafting Committee was set up which was chaired by the Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General of India. The draft had the potential to drastically change the police system to robust its efficacy; provided the draft was entirely implemented with the strength it was prepared with. Committee was comprised of total 11 members and the chairman.[28] Although the committee was successful in its endeavour to find out the goals which are needed to revamp the current law enforcement system but there were critics of this committee as well.[29] It was criticised that the words and phrases that are used in the chapter 1 of the Model Police Act have some sections that are defined in a very broad way, i.e. the precise meaning of those phrases was not given in the draft at some places. The reservation rule which was enrooted in section 22 of chapter 2 of the impugned Act had very major criticism since it allows the superintendent of Police to appoint any person as a Special police officer which he/she feels right for the duty. Among others, the appointment of village guards in the rural part of the nation where the police force was already at its insignificant level which could further lead to the disturbance of law and order in those areas with number of crimes being surged.[30] The Model Police Act was adhered only by the total of 17 states of which 15 made new laws based on Model Police Act 2006 and the rest 2 just brought in the changes into their existing laws.

In between all these committees and their reports, there were two important cases that went before the Supreme Court, where the Apex Court took the cognizance of the urgency to incorporate the reforms in the law enforcement system. In Vineet Narain v. Union of India, the court essentially focused upon the working of the CBI and Income tax officers and noted down the external influence which act as an impediment for the officers to serve their part.[31] Since in the present case, the detention of terrorists by CBI included their details which entailed the list of powerful and dominant politicians in the funding of terrorists. Due to the political pressure the complete probe was not successful. So the Apex court, after taking activities into knowledge, directed the Central Government to work with State Governments to make certain that a body must be set-up which would take the onus of transfers, appointment, training and tenure of all the police personals of rank of SP and above.

In Prakash Singh v. Union of India, the decision in this case was delivered by the Apex Court after a decade of its filling in 1996. The court gave a strict directive to the centre and the states to form a committee to make guidelines to regulate the functioning of police in the sphere of its functioning, assessment of their performance, transfers, and appointments among others.[32] The court also made sure that a certain minimum years of service would be there so as to put a halt on the arbitrary transfers and the appointment to a higher position. The Court also directed each and every state Government to execute the recommendations made by the earlier committees such as the State Security Commission, Ribeiro committee recommendations, Malimath committee recommendations et al until a new law comes into effect, which the government ought to have done on their own.[33]

It has been propounded by the committees of various experts that the power of politicians to supervise the police according to their whims and fancies must be made limited to some extent so as to promote the efficiency in the police department while not compromising on their accountability towards their work.[34] Ergo, the report of the second administrative reforms committee (2007) while taking into cognizance the abuse of the supervisory powers of the politicians over police have largely impacted the working effectiveness of the system and suggested that these powers of politicians must be made limited, so as to enhance the working competence of the Police system in India.[35]

Yet again, in 2015, a committee was set-up consisting of the 7 members. Prima facie the committee changes the understanding of Police now as ‘service’ which was prior to this regarded as the ‘force’. The committee’s role was to suggest the new perspective in the law enforcement system by redefining the purpose and duties of the police in the service. The incorporation of new definitions was given to Rural Police Station, Crime Investigation Department, Special Police Officers, Beat Officers, Police Establish Committees, Community Liaison Group, Welfare Board, and Grievance Redressal”.[36] We have seen that in the rural areas, the police workforce deployment was at its lowest level, so to resolve this; the committee suggested the reservation of 50% seats for the police from the local marginalized and susceptible segment of the society to bolster the law and order situation in the countryside areas.[37]


Police, being one of the 3 arms of the criminal justice system, vitally impacts through its functioning in administering the justice. An ill Police system, influenced and overpowered by the politicians and powerful people, is an impediment for the true functioning of criminal justice system, therefore the leaders of our country after Independence understood the need of police reforms and various committees were constituted for the same.

In Madheshwardhari Singh and Anr v. State of Bihar, the court held that it is CrPC regards it equally important for the justice to be delivered that the there must be speedy investigations and trials in all the cases.[38] Police has an imperative role of investigation, which, if influenced, can do severe harm in delivering the justice. Political influence over police due to their supervisory power has always been observed in the States and concerns regarding the same have been articulated by various committees,[39] but there have been reforms recommended by the experts’ committees (as discussed above) has significantly reduced the influence of politicians over police by institutionalisation of various boards for keeping the check.

  • There should be constitution of committee on regular time-period for examining the need of changes in this ever evolving dynamic world for the police system to remain intact with the technology to help in delivering their part to the best of their ability.
  • Recruitment of police officers must be increased significantly since the report[40] suggests that the ratio of police officers per lakh population in our country is terribly low, and stands at 150 police officer per lakh population in 2017. Unless this does not meet the reasonable number, our system of law enforcement could not improve significantly.
  • In the present time, even after so many commissions and boards, there is significant influence of politicians over police, given that police being the State subject, creates an inevitable impediment in the administration of criminal justice system. So in my opinion, the police must be given fair opportunity to express their grief of subjugation exercised by politicians to a separate body which must not comprised only of politicians.
  • The states which have yet not completely adhered to the Model Police Act of 2006 must do the implementation at the earliest to create a robust system.
  • There is an immediate need of implementing the recommendations of various committees, which are still left out due to the ignorance by the Government, for making a robust system of Law Enforcement.

From the above analysis, the thing which is prima facie clear is that, the worst part which has always created the obstruction for a robust law enforcement structure is that, it takes numerous years to implement the need which was recommended years back. This system of procrastination or ignorance has always pulled our police system back, which has taken down the efficacy of delivering justice in the criminal justice system. We have seen lethargic temperament of Government where the committees were formed but there reports were never taken into account and even for that the Apex court of the country has to step in for implementing them as we have seen in the cases like Prakash Singh v. Union of India & Vineet Narain v. Union of India.

Through this paper, we can evaluate the numerous problems which have always been existed in the police system, few of which were fixed and few remained the same. We have seen how superfluous our system of reforms is; since there were recommendations by several committees which quite obviously gave the solutions to the problems which then existed but the attempts went fruitless. The rationale why Government unnecessarily delays the reformation is due to their hidden interest of remaining powerful and panic of losing the supervisory grip over the police. If this influence of power by the politicians over police does not go away, then it is certain that the Law enforcement system would further crumble and eventually disintegrate to a large extent. Sincere and honest politicians are the prerequisite for a robust police system in any country.




  • Vineet Narain v. Union of India, (1998) 1 SCC 226.
  • Prakash Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 1.
  • Madheshwardhari Singh and Anr v. State Of Bihar, AIR 1986 Pat 324.


  • “Police and Politics in India: Colonial concepts , Democratic compulsions: Indian Police 1974-2002 562 (2005)” by Kirpal S Dhillon.

Reports , Committees & Commissions:

  • First Report (October 1998), “Summary of Ribeiro Committee’s Recommendations” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).
  • Second Report (March 1999), “Summary of Ribeiro Committee’s Recommendations” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).
  • “Justice Malimath Committee” Available on:,or%20the%20Justice%20Malimath%20Committee%3A&text=It%20was%20headed%20by%20Justice,in%20a%20court%20of%20law (Last visited on 30 July 2020).
  • “Ministry of Home Affairs, Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 387, April 26, 2016” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).
  • Report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, September 1999, “A New Beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland” Available on (Last visited on 5 Sep 2020).
  • Second Administrative Reforms Commission, 2007, “Public Order” Available on (last visited on 6 Sep 2020).
  • Ministry of Home Affairs, Bureau of Police Research and Development, “Data on Police Organizations (As on January 1, 2017)”.



[1] Mriganka Shekhar Dutta and Marico Baruah, “Notes & Comments: Policing the Nation in the 21st Century: An Appraisal of the Proposed Reforms”, Available on: (Last visited on July 26, 2020).

[2] Ibid.

[3]Anviti Chaturvedi, “Police reforms in India”, Available on:  (Last visited on July 26, 2020).

[4] K.S. Subramanian, “Are the Indian police A law unto themselves?” Available on: (Last Visited on july 26,2020).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, “Seven Steps to Police Reform”, Available on: (Last visited on July 26, 2020).

[7] Stitha Prajna Mohanty, “Model Police Act 2006: A step towards the modern police laws” Available on: (Last visited on July 27, 2020)

[8] Ibid.

[9] Joshua Aston and V. N. Paranjapae, “Restructuring the Indian Police System: the need for the accountability and efficiency” Available on: (Last Visited on 28 July 2020).

[10] Supra note 4.

[11] Ibid.

[12] See Kirpal S Dhillon, “Police and Politics in India: Colonial concepts , Democratic compulsions: Indian Police 1974-2002 562 (2005)”.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Supra note 7.

[15] Section 30, Draft Model Police Bill recommended by the National Police Commission (1977-81), available on: (last visited on 31 July 2020).

[16] Clemens Arzt, “Police Reform and Preventive Powers of Police in India – Observations on an Unnoticed Problem” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).

[17] Supra note 13.

[18] First Report (October 1998), “Summary of Ribeiro Committee’s Recommendations” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).

[19] Ibid.

[20] Supra note 16.

[21] Supra note 16.

[22] Second Report (March 1999), “Summary of Ribeiro Committee’s Recommendations” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).

[23] Ibid.

[24] “Ministry of Home Affairs, Lok Sabha Unstarred Question No. 387, April 26, 2016” Available on: (Last visited on 1 Sep 2020).

[25] “Justice Malimath Committee” Available on:,or%20the%20Justice%20Malimath%20Committee%3A&text=It%20was%20headed%20by%20Justice,in%20a%20court%20of%20law (Last visited on 30 July 2020).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Supra note 22.

[28] Sukhwinder Singh & Deepank Bhardwaj, “Police reforms: India” Available on: (Last visited on 4 Sep 2020).

[29] Supra note 1.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Vineet Narain v. Union of India, (1998) 1 SCC 226.

[32] Prakash Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 1.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Report of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland, September 1999, “A New Beginning: Policing in Northern Ireland” Available on (Last visited on 5 Sep 2020).

[35] Second Administrative Reforms Commission, 2007, “Public Order” Available on (last visited on 6 Sep 2020).

[36] Sony Kunjappan, “A Review on “The Model Police Bill 2015”- Proposed to the Parliament of India” Available on: (Last visited on 8 Sep 2020)

[37] Ibid.

[38] Madheshwardhari Singh and Anr v. State Of Bihar, AIR 1986 Pat 324.

[39] “The role of police in Indian Criminal Justice System towards low conviction” Available on: (Last Visited on 12 Sep 2020).

[40] Ministry of Home Affairs, Bureau of Police Research and Development, “Data on Police Organizations (As on January 1, 2017)”.

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