Status of Policing in India Report 2019

Status of Policing in India Report 2019 by Common Cause and Centre for the Study Developing Societies, highlights the dismal work conditions in which the police operate in the country.

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  • A survey of nearly 12,000 police personnel across 22 states,along with interviews with their family members, finds that the forces work with just3/4th of its required capacity.
  • The institutional neglect of two key responsibilities of improving work conditions and of orienting the police to a more sophisticated,democratic and humane work ethic emerges as the most striking finding of the study.
  • It stated that 72 per cent of police officers have experienced political pressure while investigating cases involving influential persons.
  • 28% police personnel believe that pressure from politicians is the biggest hindrance in a crime investigation.
  • The other obstacles cited were related to society, legal systems and internal working systems in police
  • 38% personnel reported always facing pressure from politicians in cases of crime involving influential persons.
  • Roughly one third also reported “always” facing pressure from their seniors in the police force.

Police issues India

Working Condition :

  • More than one-third of police personnel would be willing to give up their profession if they were given a chance to join another job with the same salaries and perks
  • Three in four personnel said the workload made it difficult for them to do their job well and was affecting their physical and mental health.
  • The survey found that except for Nagaland, the average working hours of police officers were between 11 and 18 hours.
  • An average police officer works for 14 hours a day, six hours more than what the Model Police Act recommends.
  • A quarter of the respondents said they worked for more than 16 hours a day.
  • Other than working overtime, every second police personnel reported not getting any weekly off day.

Infrastructure and Support :

  • About 46 per cent personnel frequently experienced situations where government vehicles were not available when they needed them.
  • More than 50 per cent were found to have spent on stationery from their own pockets.
  • The police personnel also reported the absence of basic technological facilities such as computers – only 68% of civil police personnel reported that they always had access to a functional computer at their workplace.

Procedural lapses :

  • The survey highlights the casual attitude of many in the police force towards judicial processes.
  • A majority of police personnel (about three in five) believed that there should be a preliminary investigation done before registering a first investigation report (FIR), no matter how serious the reported crime is.
  • This is in contradiction to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling which made it mandatory for the police to register an FIR if a victim discloses information about a cognisable offence.
  • “Contributing significantly to the police’s failure in developing a people-friendly image is its inability to perform one of its core functions—register crimes,” the report states.

Rule of law ?

  • Every third police personnel surveyed agreed with the statement that for minor offences, a minor punishment handed down to the accused by the police was better than a legal trial.
  • About 20% personnel agreed with the statement that killing dangerous criminals was better than a legal trail.
  • A three-fourths majority believed it was alright for the police to adopt a violent attitude towards criminals
  • A greater proportion of personnel considered it justifiable to beat criminals for extracting confessions while investigating serious cases.  1

Representation :

  • The study also found a decline in the total strength of women in the police from 11.4 per cent in 2007 to 10.2 per cent in 2016.
  • None of the states have been able to meet the 33 per cent benchmark set out by the MHA, with Tamil Nadu having the highest representation of women at 12.9 per cent in 2016
  • Representation of SCs in the state police forces ranges from 40.2 per cent (of the reserved sanctioned strength) in Uttar Pradesh to 101.8 per cent in Punjab.
  • In fact, SCs are under-represented across Hindi-belt with four out of five poorest performing states – UP, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh – belonging to the region.

Prejudices :

  • One in every two Indian policemen believes that Muslims are “very much” or “somewhat” prone to committing crimes.
  • 15 out of 21 states surveyed believe that complaints under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are “very much” or “somewhat” false and motivated. This prejudice is highest among UP Police (82%) followed by Andhra Pradesh police (74%).
  • One-third of policemen also believe that people from Schedule Caste (35%), OBCs (33%), upper-caste (33%) and tribals (31%) are prone to committing crimes.
  • It said An institutional bias against the marginalised sections further increases the vulnerability of these groups

Mob Violence 

  • The survey also found that a significant proportion of police force has a casual attitude towards mob violence.2
  • The respondents were asked to what extent is it natural for a mob to punish the culprits on their own in cases involving cow slaughter, kidnapping, rape and road accidents caused by the driver’s negligence. More than one-third of respondents said it was to a large extent or somewhat natural.

Lack of Training and Sensitization :

  • The survey also found that while the police personnel were sufficiently trained on physical parameters, weaponry and in crowd control, many lacked training on modules of new technology, cybercrime or forensic technology.
  • The survey report states that negative attitude towards registration of cases, use of violence on criminals and mob violence could be a reflection of the lack of proper and frequent training in human rights and caste sensitization.
  • More than one in 10 personnel reported not having received training on human rights and caste sensitization.

Observations:

  • Policing is becoming a thankless job and the police are increasingly finding it difficult to maintain a work-life balance. Over the years, it is becoming more and more difficult to be a law enforcer.

Suggested Reading :

Value addition :

  • In October last year, the Delhi High Court in its landmark judgment on the Hashimpura massacre case relied on the 2018 edition of the Status of Policing in India Report to establish institutional bias of the police force against Muslims to convict 16 policemen for killing 42 people in 1987. The trial court had acquitted the policemen for lack of motive.
  • The data on representation of Muslims, who are not covered under any reservation, was discontinued by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) after 2013.
  • World Justice Project released its Rule of Law Index 2017-18 report which measures the extent to which 113 countries have adhered to the rule of law in that period. India’s rank is 62 .
  • Rule of Law Index measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors
    1. Constraints on Government Powers.
    2. Absence of Corruption.
    3. Open Government
    4. Fundamental Rights.
    5. Order and Security.
    6. Regulatory Enforcement.
    7. Civil Justice.
    8. Criminal Justice.

Notes :

  1.  ( India is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“UNCAT”). It signed the treaty in 1997. India did not Ratify the convention: The Law Commission of India (Chairperson: Dr.Justice B. S. Chauhan) observed India has faced problems in extradition of criminals from foreign countries.  This is because the convention prevents extradition to a country where there is danger of torture.  It recommended that this issue should be resolved by ratifying the convention.
  2. Lynching, a form of violence in which a mob, under the pretext of administering justice without trial, executes a presumed offender, often after inflicting torture and corporal mutilation. The term lynch law refers to a self-constituted court that imposes sentence on a person without due process of law.

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