What is the SC’s Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms?
- Prakash Singh, who served as Director General of Police (DGP) of UP Police, filed a Public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court post retirement, in 1996, seeking police reforms.
- In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court (SC) in 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.
- The ruling issued a series of measures that were to be undertaken by the governments to ensure the police could do their work without worrying about any political interference.
What measures were suggested by the Supreme Court?
- The seven main directives from the Supreme Court in the verdict include fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.
- The court stated that the DGP of states should be appointed through a merit-based transparent process and secure a minimum tenure of two years.
- It specified that other police officers on operational duties (including superintendents of police in-charge of a district and station house officers incharge of a police station) should be provided a minimum tenure of two years.
- The apex court further directed establishing Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to decide transfers, postings, promotions and other service related matters of officers of and below the rank of deputy superintendent of police, while making recommendations on postings and transfers of senior ranks.
- Further, there was a recommendation of setting up State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA), with some independent members, to inquire into complaints against police officers in cases of serious misconduct, including custodial death, grievous hurt, or rape in police custody.
- Apart from this, the SC directed separation of investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing, setting up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society and forming a National Security Commission at the union level to prepare a panel for selection and placement of Chiefs of the Central Police Organisations (CPO) with a minimum tenure of two years.
How did states respond to these directives?
- The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (a non-governmental organisation), in its report that tracked changes made in the police force following the 2006 judgment, found that not even one state was fully compliant with the apex court directives.
- Overall, 18 states passed or amended their Police Acts in this time, not one fully matches legislative models.
What has been the response of the Supreme Court to these issues?
- Datas shows that bigger states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and UP have been the worst when it comes to bringing about systemic changes in line with the judgment and that it is only the North-Eastern states that have followed the suggested changes in spirit.
- States like Maharashtra make their own laws that are not effective.
- The need of the hour is an all-India Act that all states have to follow and small changes can be made in exceptional cases relating to the situation in a particular state.
Why in the News?
- The landmark Prakash Singh judgment was recently in news due to alleged political interference in police postings in Maharashtra.