December 09, 2006 - 4.00 p.m. - CMS Higher Secondary School, Thrissur

JANANEETHI observed Human Rights Day with an erudite talk by

Padmashri Prof. (Dr.) N.R.Madhava Menon

(Chairperson, MILAT, Thiruvananthapuram, Chairman, Centre for Development Studies, Tvm; Formerly Director, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal Founder Director, National Law School of India University, Bangalore, and Founder V.C. of National University of Juridical Sciences, Calcutta)



Police comes under State List as per the 7th Schedule to the Constitution. Hence the Central Government can only advise and suggest to the State governments with regard to the modernisation of the police. However the directive of the Supreme Court to the Union and State governments stands strong and the governments to that extent have no excuse, but to comply with the directives by the apex court.

It is the PEOPLE who should compel and persuade the respective State governments to implement the New Police Act. Because it comes as the result to our expectations for many decades. There were many well-meaning Committees in the past that had proposed substantial changes in the police Act. For example the Dharam Vira Committee Report. But no body care for its implementation. Rule of Law was in jeopardy. The Democracy was in jeopardy. Colossal wastage of resources and escalating number of commission of offences were the order of the day.

The Government of India, in this context, had constituted a Committee in September 2005 to draft a New Police Act in the place of the Police Act 1861 with the former Solicitor General of India Mr.Soli Sorabjee as Chairperson. The Committee had to address the following issues:

  • to consider the changing role / responsibility of police;
  • to bring attitudinal changes in the police including working methodology to elicit co-operation and assistance of the community;
  • to reflect the expectations of the people to regarding the police in a modern democratic society.

Before the Committee filed its report to the Government, a very significant case came before the Supreme Court. The former Uttar Pradesh police Chief Prakash Singh IPS filed a PIL as Writ Petition No 310 of 1996. Singh called on the government to implement the recommendations of the NPC and the National Human Rights Commission. Four specific issues were raised in the petition: (1) creation of a State Security Commission; (2) adoption of a fixed tenure for the police chief; (3) separation of the law and order and investigative branches of the police force; and (4) introduction of a new Police Bill.

In the Prakash Singh case, the Supreme Court ordered the Government of India to establish a Sub-Committee, headed by Julio Ribeiro, to examine the main themes of NPC’s recommendations. The terms of the Sub-Committee were detailed in MHA Memo No. 11018/1/98-PMA dated 25 May 1998. Some NGOs worked with the committee to review and perfect the NPC recommendations. Four years after the formation of the Ribeiro Committee, however, no tangible results are in sight. The Supreme Court, having completed its hearings on the petition over a year-and-a-half ago, has reserved its judgement

It was in this context the Supreme Court decided to take the report of the Soli Sorabjee Committee with regard to the concrete proposals to improve the quality of service by the police.

The suggestions by the Committee were based on three fundamental values: They are:-

Accountability of the police – whether the police is functioning as they are required of by the Police Act.

Impartiality- The police should be fare and just, always and everywhere. Caste, creed, colour or political affiliation, nor sexual bias/sexual orientation shall not be criteria for police action;

Efficiency:- Equip the police force with modern systems of knowledge and skills to undertake investigations of crimes that need professionalism.

What was most urgent in modernising the police was an appropriate legal framework to professionalize police. Therefore the Committee has suggested the creation of a State Police Board that should be independent of the Government and police. It should be consisted of members of civil society; of course police and government bodies will be adequately represented.

In selecting the DGP, there should be new mechanism. Depending the credibility, service record, and ability a panel of three officers with required qualifications will be proposed and one among them selected as DGP. The DGP will be accountable to the State Police Board. A fixed tenure will be given to the DGP and he shall not be removed unless there are grave reasons.

A Committee will be constituted for the functions like posting of police to respective stations and offices, transfers and promotions. The Committee will submit its proposals to the Government and it will have to be complied with.

How to improve efficiency in police? The Crime Investigation has to be de-linked from Law and Order Department. The Investigation segment of police will consist of highly proficient experts in various fields like medical doctors, engineers, cyber experts, psychologists, social scientists, legal luminaries etc. They shall not be required for the duties of civil police eg: escorting political leaders and VIPs etc.

Intensive training is another step in the line of improving efficiency. The constabulary must be abolished and in their place Civil Police Officer Grade II will be created. Their minimum qualification will be graduation. Their pay scale, housing, working hours, welfare measures etc should be appropriately modified. The existing constables in service should undergo strict training and must be declared to be graduates.

Associations and divisive trends in police like politicisation, communalisation, etc should not be allowed. All such freedoms will jeopardise the criminal administration and will adversely affect the independent functioning of the police.

There must be a Police Welfare Bureau in police to look into their genuine grievances. There are suggestions to improve the Police-Public relations. The creation of Village Police Guards will enhance community participation in policing. There shall be a Citizen’s Committee in every district that shall function as a Consultative Body to the SP.

To ensure Accountability of the police, there shall be State Police Accountability Commission under the chairmanship of a High Court Judge to be appointed by the Chief Justice of the High Court. It shall be independent of the police. All complaints against police excess, including corruption, torture, indecent behaviour etc must be reported to the SPAC.

Armed police constabulary will continue as present, but with better facilities.

The talk of Padmashree Dr.N.R.Madhava Menon, senior member of drafting committee of the new Act, was organised by JANANEETHI as part of its Human Rights Day observance. Advocate George Pulikuthiyil welcomed the audience and introduced the speaker. Advocate Johnson Ainikal proposed the vote of thanks.


Our Journey

1991 Jananeethi office inaugurated
1992 - May 13 Registration of Jananeethi Society
1992 December

Formal Inauguration

Initial services included – public adalats (neethimela), free legal aid, legal literacy, mediation & reconciliation and public interest litigation. Started campaign against torture, death penalty, dowry, child labour and trafficking.

1993 Launch of Jananeethi Publication
1994 Women’s Desk
1996 Environmental Advocacy launched
2000 Helpline for women, children and elderly in distress started
Declaration of first litigation-free village in Thichoor in Varavoor Panchayat
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