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Elected governments 'resisting' police reforms directed by Supreme Court: CHRI report

By Our Representative 

Marking 15 years since the Supreme Court of India laid down seven directives on police reforms in its judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India and Others, 2006, well-known advocacy group Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) has regretted that “Not a single State, nor the Union Territories, is fully compliant with the directives taken together.”
Pointing out that the directives are intended to put in place mechanisms to make policing in India more professional and accountable, in a new report on national assessment of the status of compliance with the Court’s directives, CHRI says, “The failure to comply with the directives reveals the extent to which elected governments are resisting police reform across the country.”
The report assesses compliance based on a review of provisions pertaining to the directives in new state police laws/amendment acts, or government orders issued to implement the directives. Insisting that there is a need to implement “checks and balances that the directives seek to instill to make policing more professional and accountable”, the report says, these are being “stymied in multiple ways.”
Thus, according to the report, “Only six states provide security of tenure for their police chief”, and “Only seven states provide for independent shortlisting of candidates in the process of appointing police chiefs; everywhere else, the heads of the police continue to be handpicked by the state government.”
Further, says the report, only 13 states have instituted “an internal mechanism to enable the police leadership to make decisions on transfers and postings of state police officers without political interference”, and only eight states have retained “an impartial selection process to appoint independent members to state Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs)”, and only five have them for district PCAs.
Noting that serving police and government officers are adjudicating members on police complaints bodies even though these are to be for the public and independent of the police department, the report regrets, only one state, Karnataka, “provides its State Security Commission the power to make binding recommendations”.
Urging the Government of India and all states to take immediate corrective measures to address the gaps noted in compliance, CHRI, which monitors steps taken by States to implement the directives and made submissions before the Supreme Court, where the matter continues to be heard till date, says, “We believe institutionalizing the directives can be a springboard towards systemic changes needed in policing.”
It adds, “If implemented in the letter and spirit of the court’s scheme, the directives will help strengthen police accountability, and make internal management systems fair and transparent.”

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