(i) Reasons for Reforms
(1) There have been umpteen number of demands to reform the police system and laws as these are unable to deal with the contemporary challenges.
(2) Pro-reformists have been arguing that the 1856 Indian Police Act was framed in an age in which the crimes as witnessed these days were far. from imagination.
(3) The Supreme Court asked the government to bring about the police reforms soon.
(ii) Objectives of the reforms
(1) The most significant aspect of the proposed reforms is intended to be the mechanism to end external influence on the law enforcing body and improve the standards of police personnel.
(2) The aim is to make police efficient, effective, people friendly and accountable by ending corruption and breaking the cops’ nexus with antisocial elements.
(iii) Soli Sorabjee Committee Recommendations
(1) A Government-appointed Committee Headed By renowned legal luminary Soft Sorabjee recently submitted its report to the government making a slew of recommendations.
(2) These include fixing a two-year tenure for director generals of police, creating separate wings of law and order and investigation and better working and living conditions for cops.
(3) The report significantly outlines the ways in which police can deal with the contemporary challenges like terrorism and insurgency.
(iv) National Security Commission
(1) There is a proposal to set up lie national security commission - for the selection and placement of chiefs of Central police organizations - to ensure that the DGPs of paramilitary forces like the BSF, CRPF, ITBP, SSB and CISF tire selected in a fair manner and have a fixed tenure of at least two years.
(2) The national security commission could he headed by the Union Home Minister and comprise heads of Central police organisations and security experts as members.
(3) In states, the State Sectuity Commission would act as a watch dog and be headed by the Chief Minister or Home Minister with a DGP as ex officio secretary. The members of the panel would he chosen in a manner that would ensure Its complete independence.
(v) State Police Complaint Authority
(1) State police complaint authority, to be headed by a retired Supreme Court or High Court judge. would look after the complaints of misconduct against officers of the rank of SP and above while the district complaint authority would look into complaints against officers of the rank of DSP and below.
(2) It will be headed by a retired District Judge. The head and other members of these authorities would he appointed by the state government in consultation with the Chief Justice of the high court and members would be drawn from a panel prepared by the Stale Human Rights Commission, Lokavukra and the State Public Service Commission.
(vi) Reforms in Criminal Justice System
Madhava Menon Panel Report
(1) A committee appointed by the Union Home Ministry on reforming the criminal justice system has suggested major changes. including multiple criminal codes based on the gravity of offence and setting up a separate national authority to deal with crimes impacting the county’s security.
(2) The committee headed by Madhava Merton was appointed in May 2006.
(3) The report was submitted on 2 August 2007 to Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil. Observations:
(4) The panel took in to account the widespread dissatisfaction with way crimes were in vestigated and criminals prosecuted. It noted that money and influence played significant role resulting in double standards. The rich often get away lightly and the poor are put to suffering. The registration of complaint for the poor is an ordeal.
(1) One of the important recommendations is the creation of multiple criminal codes.
(2) The committee wanted crimes to be reorganised into four distinct codes based on the gravity of injury and the response required to deal with it.
(3) Under the first two categories- social welfare offences code (SWOC) and correctional offences code (COC) offences- recourse to arrest should be an exception (except where violence is involved) and the elaborate prosecution system avoided.
(4) The third set of offences, to be included in the penal code (PC), is graver crimes punishable with imprisonment of more than three years and up to death.
(5) These cases require quick processing, ensuring the protection of human rights and greater accountability from law enforcement agencies. Finally, an economic offences code (EOC) should deal with crimes threatening the economic health and security of the country.
(5) Taking note of disparity in sentences for the same crime, the panel wanted a sentencing board of three judges including the trial judge for crimes punish able with death or life imprisonment.
(6) Probation should be invoked more often, especially for short-term jail terms and parole regulated more strictly.
(7) Setting up of a separate national authority to deal with crimes impacting country’s security.
(8) Creation of an ombudsman for criminal justice.
(9) Full application of the Right to Information Act to all aspects of criminal justice.
(10) Corruption cases threatening national security and institutional foundation should be undertaken by a separate body with a status comparable to that of the Election Commission.
(11) E- FIRS should be introduced.
(12) Custodial violence should be tackled more severely.
(13) The audio/video statements to the police should he made admissible in evidence, provided the accused has consulted his lawyers.
(14) There should be a code of ethics for lawyers.
(15) Concept of legal aid should he enlarged to provide for psychiatric and rehabilitative services the victim besides incorporating a system of compensation.
(16) There should be two separate laws for child in conflict with law and two child in need of care and protection.
(viii) Expenditure Reforms Commission, 2001
(1) Government of India set up the Expenditure Reforms Commission, under the chairmanship of K.P. Geethakrishnan, a retired bureaucrat who had earlier functioned as the finance secretary in the Government of India. Appointed in February 2000, it was given one year’s time to complete its economy exercise suggesting ‘a road map for reducing the functions, activities and administrative structure of the Government’.
(2) The Expenditure Reforms Commission functioned as a staff reduction committee in view of the Government’s worry that the non developmental expenditure of the Government was showing a very high rate of growth calling for its immediate down sizing. The Commission submitted ten reports, the final one in September 2001 when it was wound up.