INDIAN POLICE: 1947 – 97



Peace and order are basic to progress of individuals, societies and nations. They are also two of the most important building block of civil society. A whole range of human rights and fundamental freedoms which flow from the core concepts and components of civlised society were meticulously woven into the scheme and philosophy of free India’s Constitution. The letter also sought to redefine and reshape the modes of governance and to redetermine the relationship between the state and the citizen. Such a reorientation was expected to provide the necessary impetus for a major reorganization of diverse administrative agencies to facilitate a change from a colonial oligarchy to democracy. This, formally, in the regulatory functions of the government. Independence signified nothing more than a transfer of power from the British Viceroy and Governors to Indian Ministers. The erstwhile rules, while the nut-bolt of general administration remained frozen in the mid-nineteenth century colonial attitudes and enactment. Also, through the new electrol processes were now accessible to the masses; the principal gains of Independence remained confined to the political and bureaucratic classes. In no other area of governmental activity was such stultification more marked and hurtful to common Indians, Then in the police and its allied agencies, which remained rooted in the Indian Police Act and Crime Codes of 1860’s.The irony of a 150 years old legislation governing the structure and function of a vital administrative organ in the end of the new ruling groups. 


The Basic plan of the police as enshrined in the Indian police act-1860 was calculatedly authoritarian and primarily tailored to the needs of an imperial power, laboriously seeking to reassert its dominance after the cataclysmic events of 1857. Understandably enough, the reorganized force was designed to be thoroughly dependable and a more efficient instrument of repression of repression and subjugation and a steadfast defender of the establishment. Such an aim did not even class with the age old rule-supportive traditions of the sub-continental police. The British Government had to do no more than build on the existing police structure and redefine its historical role in sophisticated terminology to turn the post-1861 police into a staunch and loyal ally in future-Further empowerment of this veritable defender of the realm by Curzon and his successors, would pitch the colonial authorities. Thos is an important dimension of the Indian Police heritage which cannot be disregarded in any study of its performance in post-colonial times structured on outmoded concepts and goals and severely handicapped by a long ligancy of public with raradically changed role in an independent and democratic distrust, our police has been painfully struggling to come to terms.

Colonies Character

Independence in 1947 came to a partitioned sub-continent in a hasty, and somewhat messy, manner. It was accompanied by turmoil and violence of a massive scale. The process of adjustment to government institution by the ruling classes had to be telescoped into a fraction of the time required for such a momentous change. Indian politicians, predominantly belonging to the congress party, had gained some experience of the functional style of the Indian Police and magistracy while holding ministerial office in several provinces in 1937-39 and, through not greatly enamoured of them had generally acquiesced in their practices, The basic of police conduct and work carried over intact from the colonial era therefore not only survived the constitutional changes of 1947 and 1950, but were in fact reinforced by a letter generation of ruling classes, who found in the police a willing and handy accomplice in their ever-intensifying power-games. The pattern of district administration did not change, where the collector –D.M. continued to enjoy virtually the same power s and privileges as his colonial ancestor. At a letter stage the political class would become more assertive in an effort to achieve supremacy over higher bureaucracy and would systematically set about weakening the latter. In the process, an enfeebled steel frame, once reputable the best in the Empire become flabby, diffident and vulnerable. The police agencies, working under the civilian D.Ms. and home secretaries, could not stay immune from the all round administrative degeneration.

Indian Police Service

 There were other critical elements which contributed to a further India.

Consolidation of the colonial attitude and mode in police performance. The Indian Police Service (IPS) Formed in 1947 to man leadership positions in the India Police continued to replicate the precepts and practices and their colonial forerunners for several decades before they realized that the milieu had vastly changed. Rising governmental preoccupation with development activity resulted in considerable downgrading of crime and order concerns and a progressive marginalization of the IPS. This Coupled with growing public hostility, the escalating magnitude and frequency of political intervention in law enforcement and the low pay scales and prospects of IPS appointees tended to erode the attractiveness of the service. The poor quality of leadership would, in time, tell upon the general police performance. Ironically it was the fast deteriorating security environment, spread of disorder, violence and terrorism as also the heightened threat perceptions to the life and free movement of politicians after Indira Gandhi’s assassination which drew police closer to the seat of power and its role acknowledged as vital to good governance. In a way, this also restored to the IPs a status somewhat identical to its colonial ancestor. The worsening security situation also led to large scale accretions to state armed police, intelligence units, setting up of several new central forces and strengthening of the existing ones. Senior posts to multiply unchecked, not an unmixed blessing in a uniformed service with a narrow pyramid as it generates factionalism, rivalry, careerism and indiscipline. The Flaws which crept into the IPS eroded its leadership potential and the rank and file, never too popular with the people become even more unwanted, despised and scorned in society. Most recruits to police joined the department with considerable zeal, optimism and idealism but turned unmitigated cynics in a few years of confrontation with ground realities. Training school themselves often become breeding grounds for corrupt and callous subordinates, who would defy corrective measures by poorly motivated supervisors later. Occasionally, even recruitment procedures were manipulated to promote nepotism, favoritism and corrupt practices. Several such cases attracted judicial intervention. Expectedly, a police force composed of such elements often failed to deliver and to win the trust and confidence of the people. The enfeeblement of leadership also precipitated a climate of indiscipline, insubordination and dereliction of duty, snapping the intangible bond of trust and confidence between officers and men.

Police Unrest

Not addressed in time, such stray acts of defiance gradually momentum and exploded into a full-blown movement in many states, and a couple of central force in 1978-79. Although most factors which triggered the unrest lay outside the control of police leaders, the bureaucracy readily seized the opportunity to denigrate the IPS. There is no clear evidence that agitational activities were inspired or encouraged by supervisory levels or actively supported by prominent politicians. Middle level officer also kept away from any involvement, nor did they evade full compliance with government direction to firmly discipline the agitatiors, despite being sympathetic to some of their demand IPS officers, who had to shoulder a delicate responsibility of containing the movement as also articulating the genuine grievances well, though they did lose considerable ground in their prolonged quest for functional autonomy. An indirect fall-out of police unrest of 1978-79 was that the police subordinates, always a marginalized lot, gained due recognition as a crucial component of the force. No longer would governments summarily reject departmental proposals for improved emoluments and better service conditions. In the event, while a policeman cost a mere Rs.1570 per annum on an average in 1961. The state would spend no less than Rs. 54,998 on him/her in1994 (Authority Crime in India-1994).

Police and Democracy

The Survival and maturation of parliamentary democracy is heavily dependent upon regular and fair elections to its several legislative bodies. Without the active involvement of large bodies of police, a process of fair elections would be unthinkable in this land of sub-continental proportions. With several parts of the country affected by extremist violence and terrorism it is not an easy task to ensure peaceful polling. The sheer size of the electorate is mind boggling and the sweep and spread of the exercise stupendous. Since democracy in low-literacy societies is itself a fragile graft, it needs extensive Constitutional safeguards, to be enforced effectively. Indian police, despite its many weaknesses, have successfully fulfilled their mandate in the reconstitution of democracy bodies time and again. The smooth working of our legislatures, the personal security of minister, M.Ps. and M.L.As. as also the undisturbed conduct of scores of other function pertaining to democracy would become impossible without extensive participation of police and its subsidiary agencies. As an important regulatory organ of the state, the police are also charged with enforcement of fundamental rights and rules of law, though not many police official fully realize the sanctity of such a solemn obligation.

Expansion and Growth

Integration of princely state and their police force, at various stages of development, into the large state units in 1947, Standardization and unification of their pay scales and conditions of services, supplementing their professional skill by fresh training input and several and conditions of services, supplementing their professional skills by fresh training inputs and several other assimilative problems were managed with quiet efficiency. Similar exercises were to be under taken once again after the reorganization of states in 1956. Revision and rationalization of police strength was then taken in hand. Total strength of the police which was about 3,50,000 in 1948 rose to 5, 19, 260 in 1961 (U.P.-64, 376;Lakshadweep-29), with one policeman per 2.3 sq. miles, at a total cost of 790 million rupees (Rs.2.2 per capita). An average police station served a population of 75,000, Spread over an area of 100 sq. miles (authority; Indian Police Journal, Centenary issue 1961). In subsequent years, both the strength and expenditure on police –especially the intelligence agencies, state armed police and Para-military force- would go up manifold and police budgets would swell, with a rapid proliferation of senior posts. By 1994, for instance, the total strength of state police force had gone up to 13.2 lakhs out of which over 3 lakhs belonged to the armed police, giving a ratio of 1:3:4. The total expenditure of state police force would go up to Rs. 6766.43 millions (authority: Crime in India-1994).A major chunk of police resources would be used up in the 1990’s to protect V.I.Ps. At the expense of the general population. Characteristically, while governments would readily agree to create armed police battalions and intelligence units, they would frown upon proposals far additions to civil police, the agency directly responsible for citizens’ security. Most such expansions were unplanned, not always free from extraneous considerations, Ad hoc growth invariably result in lowered and truncated training inputs, poorer staff amenities, inadequate housing and flawed career management. Currently, States are overly fond of creating more Harijan and Mahila police station, more as political statements then out of need.

Para-Military Police

Partition of India into two, later three mutually suspicious nations, intensification of sectarian, caste and other loyalties, rise of extremism and militancy and a generally deteriorating security scenario made large scale expansion of police, intelligence and allied agencies investable, B.S.F., created in 1965, swelled to 161 battalions and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)to 135 Battalions. A special protection group (S.P.G.) formed to provide protection to the Prime Minister, Former P.Ms. and their extended families would cost the nation some 250 million rupees in the mid-1990’s V.I.P. security consumed 30% of the Delhi Police strength and become a major drain on police budgets everywhere. Many other forces were raised and existing ones strengthened. By 1994, there were under the union home ministry, over half a million men in uniform, specially trained to handle new areas of social turmoil.

Intelligence Bureau and CBI

The Intelligence Bureau (IB), which exercises a dominant role in shaping police policies and influencing law en forcemeat practice in a latent ways, has also grown manifold. Its operational sweep and spread is now felt in many areas of governmental activity. Their performance has, However. Sagged Somewhat due to its alienation from the grass- root of police work, since it rarely inducts field officers in its cadres, thus blocking the infusion of fresh ideas and experience. The Central bureau of Investigation (CBI) has also grown flabby and vulnerable to pressures. Both these agencies, as perceived by the police, are open to manipulation by the establishment and hence devoid of high credibility. Multiplicity of intelligence agencies in the 1960s and after has made the task of sifting, processing and assessment of vital actionable intelligence and co-ordination between different agencies an almost impossible undertaking

Sectarian Conflicts

Sectarian conflicts between Hindus and Muslims, still a sizeable minority in the new India, seemed to have lost their severity in the wake of partition. But the respite proved short-lived. Serious Communal riots broke out in several states in early 1960’s, not that the intervening period was totally free of incidents. Whereas total reported incident between 1950 to 1963 were only 1144 (average of 81.5% p.a.), in 1964 alone the number was 1070. That year also marked the resurgence of the pre-partition strains between the two communities. For the seven year between 1964 to 1970, the average  number of incident of per year went up to 424.42 as against 81.5 in the previous 14 years / Not only did the number of incident rise sharply, the affected  area also steadily expended. In 1961, only 61 districts had experienced communal violence. By the end of the decade, their number had gone up to 216, forming about 70% of the basic administrative units. In 1986, 88 districts were identified as hypersensitive and another 98 as sensitive from the communal angle. Evidently, sectarian conflicts have emerged progressively as major problem in most part of India and increasing administrative and political resources have to be employed for their containment. It is one of the several areas where the police have been less than successful in evolving an effective response. While major incidents are generally confined to urban areas, India’s villages are also getting increasingly affected by the virus. Rural violence is more dangerous because the police maintain only a very thin presence there. Although fewer incident of sectarian riots were reported in the decade 1971 to 1980 (2572 as against 7664 for the preceding decade) the severity of violence was much greater as the death toll per incident was higher at 0.46 against 0.40during the 1960’s. The difference on account of injuries was even greater, being 5.94 per incident as against 1.52 in the 1961-70 period. The number of policeman killed had risen from only 1 in 61-70 to 13 in 71-80 and the number of policeman injured had gone up by 78 per cent. Obviously the scale and magnitude of violence in each successive decade was becoming more systematic, well-directed and calculated. There was increasing use of firearms, explosive devices, remote controlled bombs and other sophisticated and more deadly weaponry both for offence and defence. Hindu-Muslim discord peaked in the destruction of a dispute religious site at Ayodhya in December, 1992 by a communally surcharged mob. A series of bomb blasts in Bombay, widely believed to be a retaliatory act by Muslim hard-liners in January-February 1993, caused serious damage to life and property. However, most part of the country have since remained free from major communal riots, among encouraging indications that the majority among the Muslims have  begun to favors are view their religious assumptions to come to terms with mainstream political realities, though many voices still preach a separatist line. The Hindu revivalist movements, unfortunately, are assuming even hard postures. Sectarian conflicts among the two major communities in the country, although not only a law of and order issue, reflecting as they do a certain failure of the political leadership to solve the ethnic issue inherent in the pluralistic nature of India’s huge population, do nevertheless pose a major challenge to the police and administrative in the districts. Due the legal infirmities, dual responsibility of police and magistracy in district and the habitual dependence on the issue of massive force in such situation; the handling of riots, in most cases, usually generates a chain of complaints, and demands for judicial inquires. Most complaints relate to reckless use of force, targeting of minorities, indiscriminate arrests, rude behavior and long periods of restrictive orders. As trial takes an inordinately long time to pronounce judgments, the guilty are hardly ever brought to book in a slow-moving judicial system. Charges in the Ayodhya case have only recently been framed (September 1997) while the Bombay bomb blast case are moving at a painfully slow pace. Police, who are but a part of the criminal justice system. Are evidently helpless to speed up the process.

Caste Conflicts

Of late, caste-conflicts especially those between dalits and backward castes, recently made eligible for reservations and thus emerging as a threat to Dalit quotas, have escalated-specially in U.P. and Bihar. Since both groups enjoy political support, police frequently finds itself powerless in objective enforcement of laws. Caste, class, ethnic and group clashes are taking new shape and dimensions, all over the country. The cavalier manner and the frequency with which district officer are shifted from one post to another severely saps their authority and enthusiasm. Also since most officers are themselves politically affiliated and partisan in attitudes, the performance of their subordinates does not induce confidence. Police force themselves in many states are becoming increasingly communalized, possibly with surreptitious encouragement from unscrupulous politicians. Since society itself is in the grip of casteism, regionalism and sectarianism, police cannot remain immune to the poison. This would prove disastrous in tacking communal riots. Above all, no political party or government shows any inclination or concern, to seriously address the core issue.

Growing Discontent

The multiple pluralities in Indian society along ethnic, linguistic, regional, cultural, religious and caste line make neighbours, because of their own in built insecurities, because of their own in-built insecurities; spare no effort to destabilize their giant neighbor, the concept of an underlying civilization unit in diversity, propounded by Pt. Nehru in the initial heady years of freedom failed to keep the regional. Linguistic and other movements in check for long. Although unrest in North-East India emerged as a major cause for concern right in 1947, other parts of country grew restive after 1970when the central Government became authoritarian and dictatorial, gathering more powers to itself at the cost of the states. Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s defeat in 1977 Election, her return to power in 1980and subsequent assassination tended to weaken and destabilize the succeeding governments. As the source of power and patronage remained centered in the Nehru –Gandhi dynasty and their close friends for long, discontent grew in peripheral and marginalized areas, classes, castes and sections of the people. By mid 1970’s several parts of the country started becoming increasingly restless and disgruntled.

The Genesis of Militant Movements

The diversities of Indian society frequently divide its people into alienated islands unable or unwilling to accommodate each other’s aspirations and demands. This frequently leads to discontent, grievance-formation, cultural exclusivity, social aloofness, hardening of attitudes and feeling of separatism and secessionism. Added to these are the monumental poverty and illiteracy among the masses and lack of modernism even in the comparatively affluent sections.  Obviously, distortions in the proper functioning if democratic and administrative institutions in such a milieu are inevitable. Such a situation soon leads to coterie rule, bending of prescribed procedures, marginalizing of civil services and exploitation of national resources for patrician ends. Politics of debate and reason gets relegated to the background; problems are neglected and allowed to intensify in the absence of an informed and analytical approach. Discontent is allowed to grow and fester for years, policies of hard blows and appeasement alternate with each other till those in authority lose all credibility. The aggrieved groups then wrest the initiative to seek solution to their problems in whatever manner possible. A policy of drift paralyses decision-making in vital areas. Sometimes a ruling party itself promotes violence and protest to marginalize its rivals as in the Punjab in the late 1970’s and others states at other times. With a politicized bureaucracy, a compromised and partisan police and a self seeking political class, most state institutions failed to safeguard administrative objectivity and rule of law. Since the state itself was assuming a less then secular character in pursuit of electoral gains, it was not long before the minorities started feeling discontented in a land fast becoming hinduised. The rise of militancy in the Punjab and Kashmir was manifestly influenced by biased and colored exercise of power. In both cases a repressive by security forces greatly aggravated the situation.

Assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi

The assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi in October 1984 set off an orgy of killings, plunder, rape and arson directed against the Sikhs in Delhi and several others places. Mobs indulged in savage violence against their victims with, as later enquiries would reveal, meticulous planning and forethought. In Delhi even the Sikh police were disarmed and taken off duty and other police generally turning a blind eye. Government action was tardy, listless, half-hearted and evasive; few, if any, investigations were pursued with vigour and competence. Higher judiciary would at a letter stage try to inject some life into many defunct cases diaries.

Containment of Punjab Militancy

Sikh militancy, through ideologically oriented in the initial stages, degenerated later into unmitigated criminal terrorism, leading to police infiltration, drying up of popular support and plentiful flow of intelligence to security agencies. Toning down of external support, sealing and fencing of borders and supportive operations by the army, supplemented the police effort tremendously. An important factor in enhancing the operational capabilities of the Punjab police was it reorientation, reorganization and modernization on the recommendations of a high powered committee of experts in 1984-85. The across the board reforms in its  functional modes, training systems and curricula, motivational techniques, expansion of its armed police and upgradation of their skill and weaponry together with a sustained process of planning, devising and refining  of strategies made it possible for the state to counter this major militant challenge.

Questionable Strategies

As militancy peaked, normal functioning of state organs all but collapsed. As a result, police agencies acquired unprecedented freedom of actions. They could not act ruthlessly, even unlawfully, if they would only show results, enjoying complete immunity from administrative or legislative accountability. Feeble protests by human rights groups were ignored or suppressed. Fake encounters, disappearances, kidnapping, extortion and other evils became an accepted mode of police operations, which did not abate even after peace was restored. The malpractices to which the police got accustomed during the terrorism years could not but leave their nefarious imprint collectively on the force. Higher judiciary would later make strictures and indict several middle level officers for unlawful acts. This also generated a country wide debate about whether the law enforcement agencies were justified in violating due process and legal constraints while faced with abnormal situations. Currently, under an Akali led government, Punjab Police seem to be actively engaged in seeking public support to consolidate peace and order. One can only hope that their commitment to secure community help is not skin deep.

Future Prospects

Historically, violence as a mode of political articulation is not considered illegitimate in the Punjab. The cultural and religious practice attributes a positive value to the use of violence to recover lost dignity and honor and to fight evil. The Sikh religious tradition legitimises the use of violence provide it has its base in human values. However, humanist militancy may frequently be replaced with martial militancy as an instrument of political protest under a given set of circumstances. Such circumstances came into play in the 1980’s in the Punjab, they can revive in another decade-may be in a deferent but no less frightening dimension. The Punjab has been witness to several movements in the past which used violence as a mode of interest articulation and the concerned segments responded to them very well. The mode of political discourse has always suffused at least the subaltern movements. Militant trends can resurface, unless the gains of normalcy are consolidated soon through a serious, purposeful and sincere political initiative. The formation of an elected coalition government, led by the Akali Dal once again, has brought about a qualitative change in the handling of numerous post militancy problems, including restoration of discipline and accountability processes in the state police. It remains to be seen how far political compulsions will allow the new government to take the process to its logical end.


Even more then the Punjab, the rise and spread of terrorist violence in Kashmir underlines the validity of several of the arguments put forward above Additionally, the clumsy manner of handling the state’s accession to India union unnecessarily externalized an essentially internal issue, which would expose the area to international power play for decades. For Pakistan, it would remain part of unfinished agenda of partition while India viewed it as a negation of the pernicious two nation theory which led to India’s partition in the first place. A festering sore since 1947, Kashmir would explode onto full blown terrorism in 1989, when an opinionated Governor sought to impose bureaucratic solution to basically political maladies. The state was placed under central rule which, in India, largely denotes rule by dictates from the Union bureaucracy at best and adventurous forays by greenhorn politicians at worst. Like the Punjab earlier, popular government was not restored for several years. Governors and their advisors were replaced at short intervals in a political version of musical chiefs imported from outside the state. As almost all previous election in the state were allegedly had failed to take root. Local population in the Kashmir valley never too fond of distant Delhi now turned almost totally anti-Indian. The amazing diversity of religions, cultures, ethnic strains and political affiliations in the state made any fair scheme of democratic decentralization unworkable and hardening of attitudes among valley Muslims made any negotiated settlement unattainable. With Pakistan determined to use the Kashmir alienation to bolster its proxy war against India and a political solution still elusive, despite the revival of Indo-Pakistan peace talks. Complaints of rights abuses against the security forces made the Indian authorities overly defensive in finding explanation to convince a disbelieving world.

Current Situation

The formation of an elected government has restored a measure of credibility to the administration. A more focused effort to curb rights violations by security forces has infused some confidence in the local population. Militancy has noticeably declined, though its full containment is not in sight. Kashmir cadre Officers and the local police now carry more weight than they have ever done, which is a good development. Mercifully, the diverse security forces have become a little more sensitive to citizen rights and sentiments, though they have still far to go. One only hopes it is not a façade. Sabre-rattling over Kashmir by a mainline party and even some high profile member of the ruling coalition is not likely to bring the end of militancy any closer. A recent move to withdraw the army from some cities is reassuring.

Need for Police reforms

The pathetic irony of a colonial era serving a modern democracy was largely lost upon the ruling classes of politicians and bureaucrats. Even the police leadership had become complacent about the systemic shortcoming and cultural constraints which continued to prevent police performance in independent India and widen the historical chasm between the police and citizens. It was only the third decade after independence that a more concerned political and civil service leadership initiated a move for police reforms. It was partly due to a growing sense of uneasiness among the middle level IPS leadership, comprising of officers appointed after democracy had taken firm root in the inhospitable soil of a centuries old feudalist tradition but mainly because of the fast deteriorating security environment. The Government of India now decided to get an in-depth examination conducted of the whole gamut of issue relating to police procedures, regulations, practices, organizational structure, legal provisions, public support, assessment and accountability in order to update and modernise the Indian Police. A national Police Commission was appointed in November, 1977 with wide terms of reference and comprising of some of the best brains from the civil service, police, Judiciary and social sciences under Dharam Vira, a former cabinet secretary and Governor. The terms of reference were careful drafted to enable the commission to make comprehensive recommendations in respect of the Indian Police which had remained unaddressed even three decades after the end of colonial rule.

National Police Commission 1978-81

In the three and a half years of their labors, the commission closely examined a number of critical areas pertaining to police and the criminal justice system, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, scrutinized thousands of memoranda, notes, theme papers, enquiry reports, records, even parceled out study projects to some eminent sociologists (including David Bayley of Princeton), and went about their task with characteristic thoroughness an diligence. In the process, they come out with some of the most apt solution to the problems and dilemmas comforting the Indian Police for the last several decades, even presenting the draft of a brand new Police Act. However, their reports were not destined to bring about any worthwhile change in the functioning of the police in India because neither the politicians for the bureaucrats wanted to surrender their hold on the police as they had found it, not unlike the colonial governments in the past, a very co-operative manipulatable medium. So any reform which promoted a degree of functional autonomy in the police was quickly shot down in the corridors of power. Police thus continued to discharge their social defence role in the same age-old manner and though the prospect of yearly police reform continues to recede further and further, every new generation of IPS officers do not fail to show their concern their anxiety about the physical and moral health of the police and security agencies. Their efforts in this regards, though sincere and enthusiastic, do not make much of a dent in the political and bureaucratic citadel of resistance. The reports of the National Police commission are referred from time to time in seminars and conferences, even in government files, but without making any material difference to the formulation of policies about the working of the police and social security agencies. Occasionally the debates turn into were slanging match between the IAS and the IPS, thus trivializing critical issue of police reforms.

Mega Cities

Rapid Industrialization and overtaking already overgrown cities and towns have given rise to gigantic urban conglomerations bursting at the seams. It is estimated that at least three mega-cities with populations exceeding the ten million mark in the next country will be located in India. The resultant strains on civil amenities, qualities of life and the efficacy of people hold on crime, criminals and antisocial elements are likely to produce unprecedented situations of social turmoil, chaos and lawlessness. The whole network of police activities and strategies in the crime control area will have to be reworked, re-oriented, strengthened and refurbished. Systemic and functional alterations and improvements will become inevitable. With the ever growing pace of breakdown of family norms and bonds, which constituted a unique invisible but powerful positive societal links with the individual have snapped. In the event, deviant behavior and violations of socially accepted values have become the rule rather than the exception in your fast growing metropolitan areas. The unchecked an unplanned growth of these urban conglomerates has also generated many other related issue and difficulties. The runaway expansion in the volume of motorized traffic within cities and on some densely used highways has given rise to a host of problems for the police and civic authorities. The daily influx of hundreds of thousands of travelers, tourists, workers and other people in search of job or for other purposes throws the established system of police surveillance into utter confusion.

Preparing for Future

 All these various problems and crisis situation will continue to proliferate in the next century. The critical question is whether the Indian Police and the state governments are fully equipped and willing to face, or are even aware of the rapid march of events, which will soon render the mid nineteenth century mind-set,  structural  design and legal framework of your police force wholly irrelevant and non functional. Can the police in Lucknow, Kanpur, Patna, Jaipur, Ludhiana, Indore, and other cities afford to await D.M.’s directions while law and order situations erupt and intensify, massive crowds, morchas and rallies block thoroughfares and traffic chaos turn into nightmares? If cities in south and west can be policed efficiently and effectively by commissioner, why can’t the system be adopted in the rest of the country? Even the modest recommendations made by the national police commission a decade and a half ago, eminently pertinent as they were to our social defence system then, may soon become out of date in the context of the policing needs if the 21st century Indian Society. Since it is not possible to reverse the course of events, a modern society has to pull its act together in time to tackle never and more complex situation threatening social cohesion and harmony.

Judicial Support

Recently, Indian Judiciary has adopted an activist role in many areas of governmental activity. Their pronouncements and decisions have helped many a moribund government agency to come to life. Mostly the courts have concerned themselves with human rights and environmental areas alone, though the Supreme Court has lately lent considerable strength, and stature, to the central bureau of investigations in their enquiries in respect of rampant corruption in handling matters of states. Indictment of several powerful politicians and bureaucrats, even Governors of states and charge sheeting of former senior minister for offences of murder and sheltering hardened criminals, where the police were earlier afraid of even conducting sustained investigations, brings a new reassuring element to a situation of utter inertia and venality in governmental working. It has kindled a new ray of hope in the oppressed Indian masses. However, judiciary can never be a substitute for good government even if their current level of activism can be sustained and they can only to their notice. Police reform is a complex process which can, in the final analysis, be brought about only by public awareness of their rights and powers and its assertion in an enlightened manner. Till then Indian Police will continue to be governed by its twin legacies of servility and oppression. Half a century of freedom and democratic profession have made no difference except for the worse. The question whether radical police reform will ever occur through governmental or parliamentary initiative, remains steeped in deep doubt. The intimate link between police performance and social advancement has been pinpointed, among other; by Charles Reith in his seminal works on the British police Patrick Colquhoun a keen observer of metropolitan police systems reiterates similar views in his widely acclaimed treatise on the London Police.


If we continue to disregards the lessons of history and fail to heed the call of the times, the text half century may turn out to be even more disastrous for internal security than the last one.

End Notes

  1. David H. Bayley, Then of Princeton University, observed in his perceptive study of the Indian police (The Police and Political Development in India, Princeton 1969, P.51) that “Independence brought revolutionary changes in the political structure of government; it brought none of any consequence to the structure of police administration. The three structural characteristic distinguishing the contemporary police system-control by state governments, horizontal stratification functional specialization between armed and unarmed police-had been developed before Independence. Independence required of the police only that they accommodate themselves to a new political context; it affected the manner in which they were held accountable and not the way they were organized to accomplish police purpose” further that “what is particularly striking about contemporary police structure is its permanence. Its fundamental principles of organization have remained fixed over a century. This suggests two questions; is the system still capable of coping effectively with the basic tasks of police responsibility, and is the system as compatible with a democratic political state as it was with a colonial one?”
  2. “In all communities, all systems of rule by authority of any kind-all laws, all institutions for making laws, all system of legal and judicial administration-are impotent and valueless unless there is in existence also, a reliable weans of law enforcement by which sustained observance of laws can be effectively secured. To the degree of effectiveness of the law enforcement machinery of a community that of all its ruling legal and law making machinery is proportionate” (A new Study of Police history-Charles Reith; Edinburgh-1956;P.265.)
  3. “Next to the blessing which a nation derives from an excellent constitution and a system of general laws, are those advantages which result from a well regulated and energetic plan of police, conducted and enforced with purity, activity, vigilance and discretion. The police have a fair claim, while they act properly, to be esteemed as civil defender of the lives and properties of the people. Everything that can heighten in any degree the respectability of the office of constable, adds to the security of the state and to the safety of life and property of every individual.”
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