Police Reform Debates In India(2011)
The problem of political interference in policing in India is perennial and pervasive. Politically motivated transfers and dismissals, political agendas imposed on policing during communal riots and mob control, and lack of scientifically defined policing goals, are well recognised facts. To mix politics and policing is treading a dangerous path. There is a gulf of difference between accountability to the law and accountability to politicians. This is often lost on governments which aggregate greater powers to interfere in the functional autonomy and professional discretion of the police. As a result, the police are often mired in local politics and act on behalf of those in power, instead of upholding the law.
The State Security Commission is an innovation introduced in the landmark Prakash Singh judgment of the Supreme Court, along with other directions towards systemic police reforms in the country. The commission is to act as a buffer between the political executive and the police,providing a legitimate paradigm for political interaction with and control over the police force. The Security Commission as a body would represent a wide constituency, not just the political leaders but also ordinary citizens. It is a step towards making police accountable to the people and transforming the “force” to a “service”. This report aims to provide the first comprehensive look at the existing State Security Commissions across the country. Along with a theoretical understanding of the need for such a Commission and why it is a desirable model, the report also provides a detailed analysis of functional Security Commissions in various states and a critical look at whether they have achieved the stated objectives. International models where such Commissions have proved successful and what can be done to make them more effective in India have also been analysed.
Five years since the Supreme Court issued the directives, the state of police reforms in the country is abysmal. It is hoped that this pioneering effort on the State Security Commission will engender a more detailed inquiry into the functioning of commissions in each state, and will serve as a guide to those who wish to work for accountable governance in the country.
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