States drag feet on police reforms

The Justice Verma committee’s recommendation for police reforms to ensure safety of women in the country notwithstanding, the states are reluctant to bring in requisite changes in their laws to ensure the uniformed service is insulated from political interference and functions professionally. 

The union home ministry has called a meeting on Friday to identify bottlenecks that are holding back police reforms, despite being reprimanded by the Supreme Court for not executing its 2006 judgement on a PIL filed by former Uttar Pradesh DGP Prakash Singh.

The states’ reluctance is reflected in the fact that only 15 of them have formulated Police Act, as advised by the apex court, broadly incorporating provisions for state police board to decide on promotion and transfer of police officers, ensuring fixed tenure for directors general of police (DGPs) down to the rank of police station incharge, bifurcating investigation from law and order duties and improving their service conditions.

Ministry sources said that states are unwilling to give up their hold on DGP appointments, as they are reluctant to allow Union Public Service Commission to empanel senior-most IPS officers worthy of taking over the reigns of police.     States which have a Police Act include Bihar, Haryana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Karnataka, Tripura, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Rajasthan. Some of the big like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu continue to flout the directions of the Supreme Court. Police is a state subject under the Constitution, so the MHA can only issue advisories, a ministry official said.

The MHA, however, cannot wash its hands off the sluggish pace of police reforms in the wake of heinous crimes such as December 16 gang-rape and fatal assault of a paramedic student in Delhi, which has once again exposed the pathetic state of policing.    

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