With a specific focus on social, legal and policy issues, a Two Month Online Immersive Legal Awareness & Action Research Certificate Training Course and Internship Program, the LPPYF (Law and Public Policy Youth Fellowship) was conducted by IMPRI, Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, from June 12 to August 11, 2023. Covering numerous issues ranging from international provisions, constitutional laws, Police Systems, SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) to gender justice and international human rights, it sought to equip fellows with both the theoretical insights and the technical capabilities required to implement the former with a field research project to enhance their learnings.
On the 18th day, the second discussion was preceded by opening remarks by Dr. Vibhuti Patel. Professor Vibhuti Patel began the session by providing a brief historical context. She mentioned the introduction of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the social movements of the 1970s that called for police reforms. These movements demanded greater accountability from the criminal justice system.
Professor Patel highlighted some of the challenges facing the police force, including a high workload, lack of sophisticated technical resources and defense mechanisms like those in the armed forces, and unaddressed needs in areas such as wages, housing, and children’s education. Corruption and rent-seeking behavior within the police force were also identified as significant issues. Dr. Vibhuti Patel then introduced the theme and the speaker, namely ‘Housing Laws and Policies in India’ taken up by Shri Rajiv Rajan Singh (Retired I.P.S. Officer).
Criminal Justice System Structure
Mr. Singh explained that the structure of the criminal justice system is similar across most Indian states. It typically consists of the Director General of Police (DGP) at the top, with commissioners if there is a commissionerate system in place. Below the DGP, there are additional Additional Director Generals (ADGs) and Inspector Generals (IGPs) who oversee various ranges. At the district level, there is the Superintendent of Police (SP), who plays a crucial role in maintaining law and order. Deputies, Sub Divisional Police Officers (SDPOs), and Station House Officers (SHOs), along with numerous other officers, work under the SP.
The Role of the Police
Mr. Singh then went on to describe the multifaceted role of the police in society. The police are responsible for enforcing law and order and are the custodians and implementers of the law. They provide security to the general population and protection to the more vulnerable sections of society. The police are a visible and identifiable arm of the government, and their duty is continuous, 24/7. However, they often face negative stigma from society due to their interventionist role in various situations.
Challenges and Impartiality
While the police force aims for impartiality in its actions, Mr. Singh highlighted that this impartiality can be compromised due to political intervention and manipulation. Political influence can affect the decision-making process within the police force. Collaboration between the police and the government sometimes leads to the creation of nuanced and specific laws designed to improve the efficiency of law enforcement and crime prevention.
Mr. Singh stressed the need for police reform, particularly in addressing political interference in police transfers. He noted that the Supreme Court has acknowledged the importance of such reforms. Tenures should ideally be allowed to be completed, barring major transgressions, to ensure stability within the police force.Mr. Singh emphasized the significance of reporting and communication in holding the police accountable. The ease of communication has contributed to better police accountability. He noted that increasingly, women are reporting crimes committed against them, which enables the police to fulfill their duties more effectively.
In conclusion, the session provided valuable insights into the structure and role of the police within the criminal justice system. It enumerated the challenges they face, including political interference, and emphasized the need for police reform to enhance their effectiveness and impartiality. The session also stressed upon the importance of communication and reporting in ensuring police accountability.
Acknowledgement: Srinitya Kuchimanchi is a research intern at IMPRI.
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