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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 13 January 2024

  1. A Case Diary for the Indian Police
  2. Swachh Survekshan Awards, 2023


Context:

The three-day conference held in Jaipur during the first week of January brought together police officers at the Director General of Police level from various parts of India. This event served as both a reflection on current practices and a valuable learning opportunity, with a focus on Information Technology-related topics that are pertinent in today’s context. This indicates a heightened emphasis on law enforcement in the country and underscores the significant role efficient policing plays in the administration’s priorities.

Relevance:

  • GS-2- Executive
  • GS-3- Internal Security- Various Security Forces and Agencies and Their Mandate

Mains Question:

How successful have the police reforms been in addressing the challenges confronting the Indian Police force? What more needs to be done to ensure a free, impartial and effective police? (15 Marks, 250 Words).

Understanding the Indian Police Force:

  • In India, state police forces bear the responsibility for maintaining law and order and investigating crimes, with central forces assisting in intelligence and addressing internal security challenges, such as insurgencies.
  • Approximately 3% of the central and state government budgets are allocated to police expenditures.
  • The existing legal and institutional framework governing police matters in India, inherited from the British, is deemed inadequate in establishing an accountable police force.
  • The primary role of police forces is to uphold and enforce laws, investigate crimes, and ensure the security of the country’s citizens.
  • In a vast and populous nation like India, police forces require sufficient resources, including personnel, weaponry, forensic tools, communication, and transport support, to effectively fulfill their duties.
  • Moreover, they should have operational autonomy to carry out their responsibilities professionally and work under satisfactory conditions, including regulated working hours and opportunities for promotion.

Concerns Associated with the Indian Police Force:

Public ImagePublic perception and national concerns, however, cannot ignore the undeniable reality that the police force is yet to establish trust and confidence among the majority of the population.
The public image of the police remains dismal, and most law-abiding citizens are reluctant to seek assistance at a police station in India unless faced with extreme distress. Regrettably, even after seven decades of India’s independence, there is no overarching organization acting as a guardian for the most vulnerable in the community.
Despite sincere efforts from the executive, there has been no improvement in the reputation of our police forces. Various police commissions have made only superficial observations without achieving substantial progress. A complicating factor is the increasing tension between the central government and a few states led by opposition parties.  
Federal Issues  The Indian Police Service (IPS), conceived and managed in New Delhi, is viewed as a perpetual source of irritation by some states. They perceive the IPS as unreliable outsiders over whom they have no control.  
States prefer recruiting their own personnel, viewing them as more loyal. This divergence is likely to escalate in the coming years, and it raises the question of whether this delicate issue was addressed in Jaipur.   Additionally, the role of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and its implications for federal governance need prompt resolution.  
The regrettable attacks on ED officers in several places in India pose a danger to the relationship between New Delhi and the states, requiring urgent attention and resolution.
More technology adept  More adept in technology, it’s fair to acknowledge that the police force has become increasingly tech-savvy. This shift is possibly attributed to having more educated individuals in the lower ranks than in the past.  
Gap Between the Higher and Lower Ranks  The motivation for many to pursue a career in the police force is not necessarily due to the high regard for such a profession among Indian youth but rather the prevalent high unemployment rate in the country. While this development is positive to some extent, the critical question revolves around whether young recruits, entering as constables or sub-inspectors, will be given the opportunity to showcase their skills.
Currently, officers of the Indian Police Service (IPS) tend to monopolize attention and glory, leaving lower ranks with minimal chances to prove their capabilities.
This contrasts with practices in many other parts of the world where recruits typically start at the lowest rank and progress upwards, with exceptions for highly qualified candidates in specialized fields.
The argument against the IPS is based on the idea that a major restructuring is needed to bridge the gap between higher and lower ranks, thereby significantly enhancing the quality of policing. While ambitious, achieving this blend is plausible if senior police officers sincerely strive for change. Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of eagerness among IPS officers to educate those at the lowest levels in the force. The existing hierarchy structure impedes spending quality time with the constabulary.
The Shadow of Politics  The lingering issue of political influence in the police force cannot be overlooked in any discussion on law enforcement. The constant concern of how to shield our police officers from political whims takes center stage in all conversations about policing.
This complex problem is intricately linked with the democratic system of governance. It requires a certain finesse to diplomatically refuse an outright illegal request made by grassroots politicians, a skill not possessed by many. This aspect of policing is likely to persist for many years to come.  

Commissions on Police Reforms:

Several committees and commissions have been established to address police reforms, and some noteworthy ones, along with their recommendations, are detailed below.

National Police Commission (NPC):

Established in 1977, the NPC had broad terms of reference encompassing police organization, role, functions, and public relations.

Between 1979 and 1981, the NPC issued eight reports with major recommendations, including:

  • Advocating judicial inquiries for custodial incidents like rape, death, hurt, and police firing casualties.
  • Addressing political interference in police work by recommending measures to limit such influence to broad policies and ensuring police performance aligns with the law.
  • Proposing measures to enhance police sensitivity to the needs and grievances of marginalized societal sections.
  • Recommending a crucial amendment to Section 154 Cr.P.C., making it mandatory for a police station to register an FIR regardless of the jurisdiction, and then transferring it to the relevant police station if necessary.
  • Proposing measures to reduce the use of coercive methods by the police.
  • Suggesting the gradual phasing out of recruitment, except at the IPS and constable levels.
  • Advocating the replacement of the Police Act of 1861 with a new act that not only changes the system of police superintendence and control but also expands the police role to function as an agency promoting the rule of law and providing impartial service to the community.

However, many recommendations of the NPC remain unimplemented.

Ribeiro Committee:

Submitting reports in 1998 and 1999, it endorsed NPC recommendations with certain modifications.

Padmanabhaiah Committee:

Providing its report in 2000 with over 240 recommendations, 23 were not accepted, including those related to IPS officers’ age of entry, police commissioner system in cities, and compulsory retirement for those not empanelled as DIG.

Malimath Committee:

Issuing its report in 2003, it focused on the criminal justice system in India.

2006 Supreme Court Directives on Police Reforms:

In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed in 1996, the Supreme Court issued directives in 2006 with seven key recommendations:

  • Establishing a state security commission to prevent undue state influence on the police.
  • Transparent and merit-based appointment of the DGP with a minimum two-year tenure.
  • Ensuring a minimum two-year tenure for other police officers on operational duties.
  • Separating the ‘law and order’ and ‘investigation’ functions of the police.
  • Establishing a Police Establishment Board for decisions on transfers, promotions, postings, and other service-related matters.
  • Creating police complaints authorities at state and district levels to investigate public complaints against police officers above the DSP rank for serious misconduct, including custodial incidents.
  • Forming a National Security Commission at the central level for selecting and placing Chiefs of Central Police Organizations with a minimum tenure of two years.

Despite these Supreme Court directives, after 14 years, no state has fully complied with the recommended reforms. (The graph below pertains to 2013).

Conclusion:

Achieving true independence and operational autonomy for the police force remains an unattainable dream until there is a comprehensive change in the entire political system. Another relevant suggestion is for Director Generals of Police (DGPs) and their immediate subordinates to dedicate an hour each day to teach their ranks how to expand their knowledge and, in turn, use it for the benefit of the common man. For genuine improvement, a combination of knowledge, integrity, and authentic empathy for the common man is essential for the image of India’s police force.



Context:

For the eighth consecutive year, the Centre has revealed the Swachh Survekshan Awards, an annual recognition of cities, towns, and states that have excelled in various aspects of public sanitation. In a routine pattern, the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh has been declared India’s cleanest city for the seventh consecutive year. The only alteration is that, this time, it shares the honor with Surat, Gujarat. Notably, Surat had secured the second position last year, a trend consistent with its usual high rankings in earlier editions.

Relevance:

GS-2

  • Health
  • Welfare Schemes

GS-3

  • Urbanization
  • Growth and Development

Mains Question:

For civic sanitation to remain a sustainable movement, it is high time that the government intervenes and prevents it from being a numbers game. Discuss in the context of the Swachh Survekshan Awards, 2023. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

About the Swachh Survekshan Awards:

  • The Swachh Survekshan, initiated in 2016, stands as the world’s most extensive survey focused on urban sanitation and cleanliness.
  • This survey has played a pivotal role in instilling a sense of healthy competition among towns and cities, motivating them to enhance their service delivery to residents and contribute to the development of cleaner urban areas.
  • Operating within the framework of the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), the primary objective of Swachh Survekshan is to stimulate widespread citizen participation.
  • Additionally, it aims to raise awareness across all segments of society regarding the significance of collective efforts in the pursuit of creating more livable and improved towns and cities.
  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) serves as the nodal ministry overseeing the Swachh Survekshan initiative.

More on the Swachh Survekshan Awards, 2023:

  • Cities like Bhopal, Indore, Surat, and Visakhapatnam have firmly established themselves over the years, showcasing a certain level of consistency.
  • Beyond the top 10, there is some variability—cities like Ahmedabad, Chandigarh, and Gwalior demonstrate fluctuating positions.
  • Eight cities, including Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Aligarh, Jhansi, and Firozabad, have secured a 3-star rating, while Noida has attained a prestigious 5-star rating.
  • A total of 648 cities in the state have successfully attained the Open Defecation Free (ODF) status, with 65 cities earning the distinction of being recognized as ‘Garbage Free Cities.’
  • The results of Swachh Survekshan 2023 highlight that 129 cities in Uttar Pradesh have reached the ODF++ status, demonstrating their commitment to maintaining open defecation-free standards and adopting sustainable waste management practices.
  • Furthermore, 435 cities in the state have achieved ODF+ status, underscoring the government’s dedication to fostering cleanliness initiatives across the state.
  • Several cities in Uttar Pradesh are currently progressing towards obtaining a 7-star rating, indicating a continual commitment to enhancing overall sanitation standards.
  • The government is actively engaged in ongoing efforts to elevate more cities, aiming for the achievement of 5-star and 3-star ratings as part of the broader cleanliness and sanitation initiatives.
  • However, the leading cities consistently maintain their status. This trend hints at a degree of stagnation in the overall scenario.
  • Another idiosyncrasy of the survey is its creation of numerous sub-categories, allowing more cities to have the opportunity to excel in specific criteria. While creating sub-categories based on population makes sense, some classifications strain credibility.
  • For instance, Mhow in Madhya Pradesh has been recognized as the cleanest ‘cantonment’ town, Varanasi and Prayagraj as proud winners of the ‘Cleanest Ganga town,’ and Chandigarh as the cleanest ‘Best Safaimitra Surakshit Sheher’ (Cities safest for sanitation workers).
  • Besides the apparent critique of regional bias—why, for example, can there not be recognition for the cleanest Cauvery or Narmada town—it tends to overly emphasize the top performers.

Rationale Behind Numerous Categories and its Analysis:

  • The fundamental principle behind several ranking schemes implemented by the Centre is to ‘motivate’ various entities—cities, villages, schools—to elevate their standards through their own efforts.
  • While this approach may be effective in competitive events like sports, the realm of public sanitation is not influenced by a town or city actively choosing to be diligent or lethargic in their self-improvement efforts.
  • It is significantly shaped by their historical background, economic conditions, and proximity to influential entities.
  • The fact that a few cities consistently dominate the rankings implies that there is less attention directed towards identifying the factors that impede overall improvements in sanitation.

Conclusion:

A constructive way to enhance the utility of future editions of the survey as an indicator of progress is to recognize that cities consistently topping the charts have already established efficient systems. Considering this, these cities could be temporarily excluded from future rankings. This approach would shift the focus and bring attention to the challenges hindering progress in other cities. To ensure the sustainability of civic sanitation as a movement, it is imperative for the government to step in and prevent it from becoming merely a numerical competition.


March 2024
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