Ms. Ekta Chandrakar

Assistant Professor - Kalinga University, New Raipur


The public, now a days, demands for an effective, efficient, accountable, and people-centered police force that consistently tries to uphold the Rule of Law in all the situations they face. Since independence, the National Police Commission, as well as a number of committees, has issued various reports urging comprehensive and detailed police reforms. But, these recommendations have largely gone unheeded and unnoticed.

In the year 1996, looking at the urgency of the situation, Prakash Singh, who himself was a police officer and served as DGP of UP Police and Assam Police filed a PIL in the Supreme Court after his retirement. Being, a police officer, he was aware of the ground level situation and therefore he prayed for bringing police reforms. The petition was filed under Article 32 of the Indian constitution praying the Government of India to come up with the new Police Act solely based on the model Act drafted by the National Police Commission and also to implement its recommendations, so as to make sure that the police are completely answerable to the citizens and the legislation of the nation. The petitioner also contended to seek directions so as to establish various commissions and boards ensuring that the police officers can perform their duties without any fear and also to separate investigation wing free from any interferences of executive.

On 25th September, 2005, the Government of India again constituted a committee called as the Sorabjee Committee which was entrusted with drafting an outline for a new Police Act. However, the court in this case was of view that no doubt that this committee will come up with report which will prove out be very useful, but the court cannot wait further for the Governments to take appropriate actions to implement changes. Thus looking at the gravity of the problem for preserving Rule of law as there was uncertainty when will the police reforms would be introduced, the court issued appropriate directions for immediate compliance. The suggestions provided will be in effect until the government prepares a new model police act.


The effectiveness of any criminal justice system is primarily dependent on the police force’s performance. It is one of the most important institutions of criminal justice system which must comply with the rule of law to ensure justice. They are the only ones who come forward at the time of emergency and are the first responders of any criminal activity. Thus, looking at the urgency of the situation as police were abusing their powers, the court in this case issued certain directives to be complied by both the Central and State Government till proper legislation is framed in this regard and these are:

  • A State security commission should be constituted in each and every state. This commission will lay broad policies for functioning of police, will evaluate the performance of police and will ensure that the executives are not exercising any kind of unwarranted influence on the police. This commission will act as a watchdog as also the members of this commission will be someone who does not belong from the Government.
  • Police establishment board should be constituted in every state which will be empowerd to take decisions related to postings, transfers and promotions for the officers who are below the rank of DSP and will be eligible to make recommendations for higher posts to the appropriate government.
  • Police complaints Authorities should be constituted both at district and state level which will make inquires related to severe charges of police misconduct and misuse of authority.
  • To safeguard DGPs and other critical police officers against arbitrary transfers and postings, they should be posted for a two-year minimum term.
  • It must be ensured that any state’s DGP should be chosen from among the UPSC’s top three senior officials, who have been chosen for advancement based on their length of service, good office records, and experience.


  • The investigation wing should be separated from the executive wings so as to ensure a faster inquiry, more competence, and enhanced public relations.
  • A national security commission should also be established. This commission will help in short listing the candidates for appointment to Chiefs of central police organisations.

Despite of such great efforts made by the Supreme Court which issued directives to be implemented so as to prevent the plaguing of the system of policing in the country, no such positive response has been found by the state governments in this respect. After the directives were issued initially, the Supreme was itself taking care, as in whether directives are being implemented properly or not. It also set up some committees to supervise its progress. Justice Thomas committee is one such committee which was monitoring its progress submitted its report in the year 2010. After going through the report, the court found that there is total indifference to the issue of reforms.

A review of a study prepared by Niti Aayog in the year 2016 and the “Status of policing in India Report 2018” published by Common Cause, an NGO, and a few other related organisations, shows a dismal image of court orders being followed around the country. There is no evidence to show that something positive has been achieved since then to address the deficiencies identified in the directives given in the case.

In a study released on September 22, 2020, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) found that not a single state has completely consistent and complied with the Supreme Court’s orders, and that while 18 states enacted or revised their Police Acts during this period, but none of them fully matches the directives stated. The proposed reforms have only been implemented in the North-Eastern nations properly and in practice.


The primary role of the police is to maintain and enforce laws in force, investigate the matter of crimes, ensure security of the people living in the country. But we, however, observe that police being an agency of the criminal justice system is not performing its role properly. They are misusing their powers which are not being monitored resulting in major abuses of people’s rights. The infrastructure is also in need of improvement. These issues have their origins in the Police Act, 1861 which is still in effect today. As a result, there is an immediate need to redefine police functions so that they can be held accountable for their blatant act.

It’s been 30 years since the National police commission, 15 year since Sorabjee committee had submitted its report and 15 years of prakash singh’s case. It’s high time to implement all the core recommendations issued in these reports and in this case. The government should no longer wait to enact a proper legislation in this behalf and according to the today’s need. India now has made rapid advances and our police force cannot afford to be stuck in a bygone age. The internet and digital social media which are rapidly transforming are fueling an explosion of crimes and scope of violence which is leading to unprecedented lawlessness and terrifying aspects of global terrorism.

Thus, there is an immediate need to improve our Criminal Justice System and our grassroots level policing institutions. Traditional and sequential devices used in the past to achieve police accountability will not be adequate. It is high time to train our police to deal with current and new challenge and to strengthen its investigation capability free from executive interference. The urgent need is to enact an All-India Police Act wherein all states must be bound to obey it. In this respect, minor exceptions could be provided in special cases relating to the situation in a specific state. Implementing and enacting all the above recommendations could only form part of the solution. 


However, it can be said that in effect, the nation has lost its historic chance to modernise and strengthen the police force. But still the time is ripe even now for the states to implement the reforms suggested in the case. The respective government need to understand that police today is not trusted by the citizen of the country. It is believed that they are corrupted, politicized and incompetent. It is said that, reforms starts at home and hence the political leaders should take initiatives from their side and should put pressure upon their respective state governments to implement the directives given in the prakash singh’s case. The criminal justice system cannot survive without an independent police and investigation department, so having an competent police force is essential.

Transformative changes in the Indian Police are achievable only through appropriate investments in capacity development and attitudinal training aiming for ambitious and substantive reforms. Engagement by all stakeholders is required to accelerate a national movement for transformation, all while bearing in mind the challenging circumstances in which our police system operates. Thus, the vaccine is already there in the form of directives and recommendations, it’s just that there is a need for a proper mechanism so that it can be administered to all the states effectively.


  • Jain Suparna and Gupta Aparajita, Article “Building Smart Police in India: Background into the needed Police Force Reforms”
  • Daruwala, M. & Joshi, GP & Tiwana, M. (2005). Police Act, 1861: Why we need to replace it? Police Reforms too Important to Neglect too Urgent to Delay. Common Wealth Human Rights Initiative. PP 1-15. Retrieved on April 04, 2021 at 02:00 PM
  • Commonwealth Human Right Initiative. (2011). Police Reforms Debates in India. Commonwealth Human Right Initiative, Better Policing Series in India. Retrieved April 05, 2021 at 10:09 AM from
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. (2010). Seven Steps to Police Reform. CHRI. PP 5-12. Retrieved on April 04, 2021 at 05:29 PM from
  • “Crime in India report, 2016”Ministry of Home Affairs, National Crime Records Bureau. Accessed March 27, 2019.

[1] Status note on police reforms in India, Ministry of Home Affairs.

[2] Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006) 8 SCC 1

[3] Enactment of  New Police Act, PIB Delhi, Ministry of Home Affairs.

[4] Report: Seven Steps to Police Reform (Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, 2010) Available at:-

[5] Status of policing in India Report 2018, Common Cause & Lokniti – Centre for the Study Developing Societies (CSDS)

[6] Compliance with Supreme Court Directives on Police Reforms, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, 11 Sept 2020

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