A Case for Police and Judicial Reforms in India

Session Report
Aqsa Qureshi

Mr. Prakash Singh enlightened the session by covering  

Police Reforms in India  

Background and the road ahead- 

Profile of Indian Police 

Total Strength of State Police : 2.63 million 

Total Strength of Central Armed Police Forces : 1.10 million 

Total number of Police Stations: 17.379 

Total number of Police Outposts : 8.992 

Police per hundred thousand population: 193.95(S) /152.51(A) 

Population per Policeman :515.59 

Policemen per 100 sq km area: 80.07 

Women Police total strength: 2,17,026 (10.49 % of total) 

Status of Policing in India (2019) 

  1. Police in India works at 77% of its sanctioned strength 
  1. Police personnel work for 14 hours a day on an average 
  1. Three out of 4 personnel reported that workload is affecting their physical and mental health 
  1. Only 6.4% of police force provided in-service training during last 5 years 
  1. One out of every 10 police station has no drinking water / toilet facility 
  1. Premature transfer of officers (SPs/DIGs) has gone down from 37% in 2007 to 13% in 2016 following judgment in Prakash Singh case 
  1. Pressure from politicians is the biggest hindrance in crime investigation 
  1. Women police more likely to be engaged in in-house tasks 
  1. One out of five policemen feel that killing dangerous criminals is better than legal trial 
  1. Four out of 5 policemen believe that there is nothing wrong in police beating criminals to extract confessions. 

Why Police Reforms? 

  •  Colonial Structure 
  •  Act of 1861 
  • Changes not carried out after Independence 
  •  Emergency exposed the brutal character of Police 
  •  Reforms necessary for a progressive, modern India 

Police Commission (1902-03) 

“The police force is far from efficient: it is defective in training and organisation; it is inadequately supervised; it is generally regarded as corrupt and oppressive; and it has utterly failed to secure the confidence and cordial cooperation of the people… 

The police force throughout the country is in a most unsatisfactory condition, that abuses are common everywhere, that this involves great injury to the people and discredit to the Government, and that radical reforms are urgently necessary.” 

National Police Commission 


“There has been no comprehensive review at the national level of the police system after Independence despite radical changes in the political, social, and economic situation in the country” 

  • Chairman: Shri Dharma Vira 
  • Report in eight volumes 
  • Magnum Opus for Police 

Police Commissions/Committees 

  •  National Police Commission (1977-81) 
  • Ribeiro Committee on Police Reforms (1998) 
  • Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms (2000) 
  • Group of Ministers on National Security (2000-01) 
  • Malimath Committee on Criminal Justice System Reforms (2002-03) 
  • Soli Sorabjee Committee on Model Police Act (2006) 
  • Prof Madhava Menon Committee on Draft National Policy on 
  • Criminal Justice (2007) 
  • Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2006-08) 

Supreme Court Directions (Sept.22, 2006) 


  • Insulating police from political pressures 
  • Internal autonomy to police in personnel matters 
  •  Ensuring accountability 
  • Objective selection of DGP 
  • Security of tenure to field officers 
  • Separating investigative from law and order functions\ 

State Security Commission 

Any model recommended by the following could be chosen: 

1. National Human Rights Commission 

2. Ribeiro Committee 

3. Sorabjee Committee 

Functions of State Security Commission 

  1.  Laying down broad policies 
  1.  Giving directions for the performance of preventive tasks and service-oriented functions of police. 
  1.  Evaluating performance of the State Police and preparing a report thereon to be placed before State Legislature. 

Functions of State Security Commission 

Members: DGP and four other senior officers of Department 

  • Decide transfers, postings and other service related matters of all officers of and below the rank of Dy.SP. 
  •  Make recommendations to State Government regarding postings and transfers of officers of and above the rank of SP. 
  •  Forum of Appeal for disposing of representations from officers of the rank of SP and above regarding their promotion, transfer, disciplinary proceedings or their being subjected to illegal or irregular orders. 


State-level Complaints Authority 

  • Members: Headed by retired Judge of High Court/Supreme Court chosen out of a panel of names proposed by Chief Justice. 
  • Assisted by three to five members selected from a panel prepared by the State HRC/Lok Ayukta/PSC 
  • Powers: Inquire into complaints of serious misconduct (incidents involving death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody) against any officer of the rank of SP and above. 


From amongst three senior-most officers who have been empanelled for promotion to that rank by UPSC on the basis of: 

  •  Length of Service 
  •  Very Good record 
  •  Range of experience 

Minimum Tenure – Two years irrespective of date of superannuation. 

Security of Tenure 

Minimum tenure of two years for all field officers including: 

  1.  DGP of the State 
  1.  IG Zone 
  1.  DIG Range 
  1.  SP ic District 
  1.  SHO 

Separation of Investigation from Law & Order 

To be implemented in towns/urban areas which have a population of one million or more to start with. 


> Speedier Investigation 

> Better Expertise 

> Improved rapport with people 

National security Commission 


  •  Union Home Minister 
  •  Heads of CPOs 
  •  Security Experts 
  •  Union Home Secretary as ex-officio Secretary 

Thomas Committee 

1. Constituted vide Supreme Court’s Order dated May 16, 2008 

2. Headed by Justice K.T. Thomas. 

Members included Kamal Kumar, IPS 

(Retd.) and Dharmendra Sharma, IAS 

3. Report submitted in August 2010 

Thomas Committee Findings 

1. No State has fully complied with the Directives in letter and spirit. 

2. Total indifference to the issue of reforms exhibited by states. 

3. Ground realities verified in only four states – Karnataka, Maharashtra, UP and WB 

Justice Verma Committee (2012) 

“We believe that if the Supreme Court’s directions in Prakash Singh are implemented, there will be a crucial modernization of the police to be service oriented for the citizenry in a manner which is efficient, scientific, and consistent with human dignity.” 

Latest Position

  • States which have passed executive orders have diluted the directions of the Supreme Court. 
  • States (17) which have passed laws have violated the letter and spirit of Court’s directions. 
  • Government of India has been tardy in implementing the Court’s directions 

Implementation of Supreme Court’s Directions 

Will have the effect of 

> Upholding the Rule of Law 

> Insulating police from extraneous pressures 

> Protecting human rights 

> Improving Governance 


           Total police per lac of population 

                Sanctioned 193.95 

                Actual 152.51 

          State police total strength 

                 Sanctioned 2.63 million 

                Actual 2.06 million 

                Vacancies .57 million (5.7 lakh) 

Other Matters Relevant to Police Reforms 


A. Transport: 7.74 vehicles/100 policemen, 

B. Communications: 143 police stations have neither wireless nor mobile connectivity 

C. Forensic Labs: Main 32, Regional 80, Mobile 418 

D. Housing: Satisfaction of Family Accommodation 31.24%. 

Other Matters Relevant to Police Reforms 

3. Working Hours 

4. Training 

5. Reducing Police Workload 

6. Modernisation 

7. Registration of Cases 

8. Commissionerate System 

9. Police in Concurrent List 

Relevance/Urgency of Police Reforms 

1. Survival of Democracy 

2. Sustaining momentum of Economic Progress 

3. Combatting Terrorism/ Insurgency/Organised Crimes 

4. Transform Rulers’ Police to People’ s Police 

Acknowledgement: Aqsa Qureshi is a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more session reports on web and policy learning events conducted by IMPRI: Time bound Justice is Easily Possible in India