What Agency Investigates Police Misconduct?

Crime has existed in society since time immemorial and is considered to be inevitable. In order to keep crime and criminals at bay, the law has been created to ensure public order and to keep the society fairly organized. Law enforcement is a type of mechanism wherein the professionals work together in order to enforce law and order through various techniques such as deterrence, rehabilitation and punishing individuals who disobey the law of the land. Some of the professionals involved in the enforcement of law include Judges, Advocates, Police Officers, etc.

Police Officers can be categorized as one of the most important aspects of the law enforcement mechanism. The police are authorized and emancipated by the state to enforce and implement law and order in the societal structure. In our country, the quality of the criminal justice system depends upon the working of the police force. These officers have a duty towards the State and the individuals to protect and serve the community.

However, in recent years a lot of police personnel have been misusing their powers and are violating the laws which are supposed to be enforced. Police misconduct can be defined as inappropriate conduct exhibited by a police officer or unlawful actions taken by them in connection with their official duties[1].

Executive Approach:

On 15 November 1977, The Government of India appointed a National Police Commission. The commission was appointed in order to evaluate the role and performance of the police both as a law enforcement agency and also as an institution to protect and preserve the Fundamental Rights and Human Rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution.

The National Police Commission had various terms of reference which required the Commission to redefine the role, powers and responsibilities in order to keep a track of the maintenance of public order along with prevention and control of crime. The Commission was also required to recommend various measures and institutional changes in order to prevent the misuse of powers by the police or by the political executives so that a process of impartial inquiry of the complaints made by the public can be enforced which are made against the police officers about the misuse of their powers.

The Commission examined all the issues in detail and gave eight reports in a tenure of three and a half years suggesting various reforms that shall be implemented for the effective functioning of the police force and to render impartial and unbiased service to the individuals of the society.

Judicial Perspective:

When the recommendations given by the National Police Commission have not implemented due to various different factors a petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India was filed by Prakash Singh, a Padamshree awardee, who was a renowned police officer known for his impeccable contribution to the society and Indian Police Service along with two other petitioners praying for the issue of directions to the Government of India to frame and establish a new Police Act based on the recommendations given by the Commission in order to ensure the effective functioning of the people and also making the officers accountable to the law of land and to the people.

It was claimed in the petition that due to the none enforcement and unjust application of laws, the violation of Fundamental Rights and Human Rights have taken place and people in power having the dominance and control were not held accountable even for the blatant violations of law. Due to the misuse and abuse of the powers of the police, it has been reduced to the status of a mere puppet in hands of corrupt politicians and it has further lead to the violation of rights of people.

The petition also referred to a research paper – ‘Political and Administrative Manipulation of the Police’ published in 1979 by Bureau of Police Research and Development, stating that unrestricted control of political executives over the police force has led to the innate danger of making the police as a tool and diverting the growth of the society and promoting authoritarianism by shaking the core of democracy.

In Prakash Singh & Ors v. Union of India & Ors.[2]  the Apex Court in its judgment then issued the following directions to the Central Government, State Government and Union Territories for compliance regarding appropriate legislations:

  • The State Governments are directed to constitute a State Security Mechanism in order to ensure that the State Government does not indulge into exercising inappropriate and unjustified influence or pressure on the State police and was also directed to lay down the broad policy measures so that the police force always acts according to the law of the land and as per the Constitution.
  • The Director-General of the Police shall be appointed for a fixed tenure of two years irrespective of his date of superannuation.
  • Police officers with the operational duties shall also have a tenure of two years.
  • The police force appointed for the investigation shall be separated from the law and order police in order to ensure speedier investigation and better understanding with the people.
  • There shall also be a Police Departmental Board which must take care and decide all the transfers, postings and other service-related matter of the police force.
  • There shall be an existence of the Police Complaints Authority at the State level as well as at the District level catering to separate domain areas.

Police Complaints Authority: Composition, Power and Functions[3]:

  • At the District Level, there shall be a Police Complaint authority to look into the matter of complaints against the police officer of and up to the Rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. Similarly, at the state level, there should be another Complaints Authority to look into the Complaints against police officers of the Rank of Superintendent of Police and above. The Police Complaints Authority at District Level may be headed by Retired District Judge while at the State Level, it shall be headed by Retired Judge of High Court or Supreme Court.
  • The State Level- Police Complaints Authority would take cognizance of only those cases which involve allegations of serious misconduct by Police Officers or Workforce. This will take into account cases of deaths, grievous hurt, or incidents of rape in police custody.
  • Apart from the incidents mentioned above the District Level Police Complaints Authority will take notice of and inquire into accusations and allegations of extortion, land/house grabbing, or any other incident or case involving gross misuse of authority. The recommendations made by these authorities shall have a binding effect on any action that is departmental or criminal against an irresponsible and delinquent police officer.
  • The main aim for the establishment of the Police Complaints Authority was the need and urgency to look into the matters of serious misconduct and misuse of power by the Police Officers. The Police Complaints Authority shall take an action either ‘suo moto’ or based on complaints received from the victim or any other person.

In Delhi, in compliance with the directions passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in WP (C) No. 310/1996 (Prakash Singh & OR’s-Vs-Union of India & Ors) dated 22nd September 2006 and directions issued by Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, vide letter No. 14040/108/2015-UTP dated 05th October 2015 and letter No. 14040/108/2015-UTP dated 26th September 2017, a Police Complaints Authority has been constituted which has the responsibility to ensure the effective functioning of the police force and take into consideration any complaint made by a victim or any other person and take necessary actions for the same[4].

The Police Complaints Authority, Delhi includes the following reputed officers of their respective fields as the core members. This authority is effectively and efficiently discharging its duties in Delhi[5]:

  • Justice P.S. Teji as the Chairman
  • Nutan Guha Biswas – IAS (Retd.) as the Member
  • P. Kamaraj – IAS (Retd.) as the Member
  • Tinu Bajwa as the Member
  • Saumyaketu Mishra as the Secretary (DANICS)
  • Vipin Kumar Garg as the Deputy Secretary
  • Nayan Mokashi as the Section Officer

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_misconduct

[2] 2006 (8) SCC 1

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://pca.delhigovt.nic.in/images/resolution1.pdf

[5] http://pca.delhigovt.nic.in/organizational.html

This Article is Authored by Sonakshi Chaturvedi, Second Year, B.A. LL.B (Hons) Student at Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, IP University.

Also Read – How To Make Complaint Against Police?

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