18th April – Police reforms must be expedited

In the run-up to the 2019 general elections national security has emerged as a major issue. To strengthen only external security and ignore internal security proves inadequate for effective national security management.

Concern –

On the internal security front, the lack of the our government’s political will to implement long-pending police and intelligence reforms amounts to a failure of good governance.

Need of reforms –

  • The intelligence agencies continue to be helmed and staffed predominantly by police personnel and others on deputation from various government services.
  • The rank and file of policemen across the country have their grievances with no effective redressal mechanism in place. For instance, in June 2016 the Karnataka Police planned a protest but was reined in by systemic checks and balances. The Haryana Police were unable to control law and order when godman Baba Ram Rahim was arrested in August 2017; besides, the February 2016 Jat agitation. Clearly that amounts to failure of the police machinery in the State.
  • Today, the country is vulnerable to externally-fostered internal security threats wherein jihadi terrorists from Pakistan strike targets not only in the border States of Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat — but also operate in the hinterland States like Karnataka or Tamil Nadu. Only the police and intelligence services can ensure strong internal security management.
  • The police are hobbled by political interference and the police chain of command does not really function because the subordinate police officers cultivate MLAs and Ministers to intervene on their behalf particularly their postings to different appointments. This hampers professional policing and investigations which is to the disadvantage of the common man.
  • Another aspect of police reform is linked to Intelligence reforms. Both the internal and external intelligence agencies are predominantly staffed with police officers and there have been several acts of omission and commission.

A shallow progress –

  • The Supreme Court directed the States to review the progress on police reforms in 2006 and cracked the whip on States which were reluctant to initiate reforms.
  • In July 2018, the Supreme Court once again reviewed the progress of States and UTs on this front.
  • Almost 23 States have ignored guidelines on appointment of DGPs. As of today, 12 States have not implemented the separation of investigation and law and order wings.

Way forward –

  • Police reforms include fixed tenures for Director Generals of Police (DGPs) and Superintendents of Police. Also, the DGPs should have a minimum residual service to ensure continuity and stability and avoid frequent leadership changes.
  • As much as the police as an institution requires reform to insulate it from political interference, the intelligence agencies too merit a review in terms of accountability, staffing and operations.
  • Unlike the police whose performance is tangible, the intelligence agencies work remains invisible and away from public gaze.

Conclusion –

Reforms will help the state police forces and intelligence agencies to evolve into professional organisations and avoid future failures of law and order and more importantly, provide security oriented to the common man.

SourceThe Hindu Business Line

Also Read: 17th April – State funding of elections

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