Police Reform

Police Reform



The establishment of a fair and effective legal system crucially relies on the implementation of efficient police reforms and unwavering accountability.

This is imperative for upholding the Rule of Law and ensuring that law enforcement agencies uphold the rights of the citizens they are sworn to protect. The modernization and professionalisation of police forces are essential to adapt to the evolving needs of society. Equally significant is the maintenance of accountability, serving as a crucial check against the abuse of power.

For a competent police force, it is vital that citizens feel safe and have confidence that their law enforcement agencies adhere to high standards of conduct. This trust is fundamental for fostering peaceful and law-abiding behaviour in the community.

However, the Indian police force grapples with a range of challenges, including political interference, insufficient training and resources, overworked and stressed personnel, and a lack of accountability. Instances of misconduct and abuse of authority further erode public trust in the police.

Each year on October 21st, Police Commemoration Day is observed. This blog endeavours to highlight accountability measures that can be implemented and advocates for specific actions that will contribute to the creation of a transparent, efficient, and citizen-centric police force.

Challenges faced by the police system 


The challenges confronting police forces in India pose significant impediments to their operational efficiency and overall effectiveness. Here are some key issues:


  1. Overburdened Force and Vacancies: State police forces and certain central armed police units grapple with a substantial number of vacancies, resulting in an overburdened workforce.
  2. Infrastructure: Outdated infrastructure hampers modern policing, including effective communication, access to advanced weaponry, and high mobility.
  3. Police-Public Relationship: A strained relationship between the police and the public can adversely impact the maintenance of peace and order.
  4. Crime Investigation Challenges: Limited resources and training impede the police's effectiveness in crime investigation.
  5. Police Accountability: Greater accountability is imperative within the police force to prevent the misuse of power and ensure justice.
  6. Gender Discrimination and Underrepresentation: Women police officers encounter gender discrimination, and the representation of women in the force remains inadequate, constituting only about 10% of all police officers in India as of 2021.
  7. Politicisation of the Police: Politicisation of the police introduces bias, compromising impartiality and fairness in law enforcement.
  8. Obsolete Weaponry and Intelligence Gathering Techniques: Outdated weaponry and intelligence gathering techniques limit the operational capabilities of the police force


Reform done until now:

Several historical efforts have been made to reform the police system in India, including:

  • Police Act of 1861:
  • Enacted by the British after the 1857 revolt.
  • Established a centralised hierarchical structure to prevent future uprisings.
  • National Police Commission (1977-81):
  • Formed under the Morarji Desai government.
  • Recommended measures to enhance police efficiency and professionalism.
  • Advocated for mandatory judicial inquiries in cases of custodial rape, death from police firing, or excessive force.
  • Ribeiro Committee (1998):
  • Recommended the establishment of Police Performance Accountability Commissions in states and District Complaints Authorities.
  • Prakash Singh Guidelines (2006):
  • Issued by the Supreme Court of India in the Prakash Singh vs. Union of India case.
  • Included directives such as the continuation of a State Security Commission, fixed tenure for the Director General of Police (DGP), a two-year term for Superintendents of Police (SPs) and Station House Officers (SHOs), separation of investigation and law and order functions, creation of a Police Establishment Board, and the establishment of Police Complaints Authorities at state and district levels. A National Security Commission was also recommended at the central level.
  • Model Police Act, 2006:
  • Framed by the Soli Sorabjee Committee, aligning with the Prakash Singh Decision.
  • Submitted recommendations in 2006 to make the police an efficient, effective, people-friendly, and responsive agency.


Responsibility Measures

Ensuring police accountability is integral to fortifying the overall judicial system, promoting equality, and upholding the rule of law. Such measures, essential for a democratic society valuing justice and individual rights, extend beyond mere administrative processes. Here are some accountability measures:

  • Making the Police a SMART Force:
  • Advocate for a police force that is Strict, Sensitive, Modern, Mobile, Alert, Accountable, Reliable, Responsive, Tech-savvy, and Trained.
  • Studies emphasise that respectful police interactions, transparency, and accountability contribute to increased law compliance and reduced crime likelihood.
  • Use of Body Cameras:
  • Implement body-worn cameras to create an objective record of police-citizen interactions.
  • Supported by the Prakash Singh guidelines issued by the Supreme Court of India.
  • Oversight Committees:
  • Promote the establishment of independent civilian oversight committees.
  • Composed of community leaders or representatives, these committees monitor and evaluate police actions to ensure compliance with ethical and legal standards.
  • Training on Ethics and Education:
  • Provide ongoing training on ethical behaviour, human rights, and community relations within police enforcement.
  • Equip officers with the knowledge and skills to respond appropriately and competently to diverse situations.
  • Set up Police Complaints Authority:
  • Establish an independent authority to address and investigate complaints of police misconduct.
  • The Model Police Act of 2006 recommends the formation of such authorities in each state, comprising retired high court judges, police officers, and public administrators from other states.


Why is transparency needed?

Transparency plays a pivotal role in cultivating public trust in police operations, fostering confidence in the fair application of the law. It necessitates accountability, ethical conduct, and citizen engagement. In the realm of police reform, transparency enables public participation and advocacy for necessary changes. Informed citizens contribute to pinpointing areas requiring improvements in police practices and policies, ensuring adherence to rules, and addressing biases. This commitment to transparency promotes fairness, justice, and public trust in law enforcement, ultimately enhancing outcomes.

  • Community Engagement:

Active community engagement is instrumental in advancing police reform by nurturing trust, understanding, and local insight. Involving communities provides crucial insights into their specific needs and priorities, aiding law enforcement in tailoring strategies effectively. This engagement fosters open dialogue and feedback, enabling citizens to voice concerns, report wrongdoing, and propose improvements. Such interactions build positive relationships between police and citizens, making officers approachable partners. Improved communication leads to more successful crime prevention and resolution, reinforcing shared responsibility for safety and security.

  • Legislative Changes:

Several committees, such as the National Police Commission (1978-82), the Padmanabhaiah Committee (2000), and the Malimath Committee (2002-03), have made noteworthy recommendations for police reforms in India. The Ribeiro Committee, constituted in 1998, reviewed the progress on police reforms and suggested ways to implement recommendations. Recommendations include amending the Code of Criminal Procedure, endorsing major NPC recommendations, and setting up central law enforcement agencies. The Model Police Act of 2006 focused on police agency autonomy, professionalism, and accountability.

Recent legislative efforts involve introducing three bills in Parliament to replace laws enacted during British rule, emphasising the need for updating laws dating back to 1860. Home Minister Amit Shah highlighted the importance of these new criminal laws in expediting justice delivery.


A fair and just system relies on efficient police operations, necessitating reforms and accountability to prevent power misuse. Legal and policy reforms are foundational for a modern, smart, and accountable police force. Strengthening the pillars of democracy requires enforcement of reforms through legislation to ensure the safety, security, and harmony of society.

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