SC guided police reforms evade the country

SC guided police reforms evade the country

Nagaland State remains non-compliant with various directives of the Supreme Court


Morung Express News
New Delhi | September 25


The police force in the India Union remains highly politicized. While the appointment, posting, transfer of police personnel from top to bottom continues to be politically influenced, holding the police accountable to their responsibilities towards the people is almost impossible. As Supreme Court-directed police reforms have evaded most states of the Union, the criminal justice system has so faltered.


The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) held a media briefing here on September 20 to highlight such issues around ‘Mob Lynchings: Policing, Interventions and Redress.’


The Supreme Court of India, in its judgment in Prakash Singh and Others vs. Union of India, 2006, passed six directives on police reform for States to adhere to. The directives include the setting up of a State Security Commission, Tenure and Selection of the Director General of Police (DGP), Tenure of Other Officers, Separation of Investigation and Law and Order, Police Establishment Board and Police Complaints Authorities. (See Box)


According to the CHRI, States and Union Territories have either “blatantly rejected, ignored, or diluted significant features of the directives.”


Status of Nagaland

While the Government of Nagaland (GoN) has not brought in a new police act, it claims to follow the Supreme Court’s directives partially, at least on paper, as per the CHRI.


For instance, as per Directive 1, Nagaland State seems to have established a State Security Commission (SSC) through a notification in 2007. The SSC is meant to “ensure that the State Government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the state police.” The GoN has included the Leader of Opposition on this Commission though it has no independent selection panel, is not empowered to give binding recommendations and does not produce annual reports as it ought to. This makes the GoN “non-complaint” to the SC’s first directive, as per CHRI’s data.


In line with Directive 2, the Nagaland State Government claims to “fully comply” with guidelines for Selection and Tenure of a DGP—it is the only state in India to do so. This includes shortlisting of candidates by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), tenure of two years irrespective of superannuation and specific grounds for dismissal only as per the SC’s directive, including consultation with the SSC.


However, since the GoN is non-compliant with the first directive, it is unclear how it “fully” complies with the second. Late last year and earlier this year, for instance, the GoN twice appointed “current charge” DGPs, removing them for a third.


In July this year, advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the SC that “Many states are appointing an acting DGP, instead of following the 2006 judgment, where the UPSC shortlists 3 most suitable persons, of which the government appoints one…the purpose is to see if the person so appointed is complying with the orders of the state government or not.”


The GoN also claims to fully comply with Directive 3 of the SC while being unable to comply with directives 4 and 5.


It, however, partially complies with Directive 6 that directs the establishment of a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) at both state and district levels. Their mandate is to look into complaints against police officers from the public in cases of serious misconduct. The GoN claims to have set up a state level PCA with no mention if its recommendations will be binding or if it will be able to carry out independent investigations. It is also not known if the state level PCA is functional, if the public has brought any complaints against the Nagaland Police to it or action taken.


Article 144 of the Constitution of India states that civil and judicial authorities have to act in aid of the Supreme Court. Legal experts opine that if a government disobeys a SC order, then a Contempt Action can be brought against the government by the other party in the case or the SC can initiate suo motu cognizance of Contempt.