The police force serves a crucial role in maintaining peace, security, and order within society, by acting as an extension of the government’s executive arm. It is a visible manifestation of governmental authority on the streets, embodied with the principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution and the legal & criminal framework of our nation. Empowered by the state, the police are tasked with enforcing laws, safeguarding people and property, and preventing crime & civil order with the state. Therefore, ensuring the efficiency & humanity of the police system while upholding constitutional rights is of paramount importance. However, despite these noble objectives, the police force often falls short of public expectations, exhibiting inefficiency & shortcomings. This can be traced back to the remnants of colonial influence on the Indian police system, characterized by archaic laws such as the Indian Police Act, 1861, enacted by the British colonial rules. Even after independence, little has changed. Consequently, these colonial legacies continue to shape the functioning & cultural ethos of the police force in India.


The inception of the police system in India traces back to colonial times, serving as the tool for British rulers to oppress and subjugate the Indian populace. This legacy of coercion & control persists today, manifesting in various challenges faced by the Indian police force:

  • Overburdened force: With a population steadily increasing, the police force operates tirelessly to maintain public safety. However, the ratio of the police officers to population falls below international standards, resulting in overwork & stress.
  • Weak infrastructure: Despite advancements in the 21st century, many police officers still lack modern equipment & weaponry, relying on outdated tools that compromise their efficiency & safety.
  • Limited budget: The police system operates on a meagre budget, representing only a small fraction of the overall government expenditure. This constraint hampers their ability to effectively address societal challenges.
  • Unaccountability: Despite established hierarchies & regulations, accountability among police officers’ lacks behind. Political affiliations often shield officers from scrutiny, leading to instances of corruption and misuse of power.
  • Underreporting of crime: Many individuals hesitate to report crimes due to bureaucratic hurdles and biases within the police force. Discrimination based on factors such as caste, language, and social status further exacerbates this issue.
  • Misuse of power: While police officers face numerous challenge sin their line of duty, some succumb to abusing their authority. Innocent individuals often bear the brunt of this misuse of power, fostering fear & resentment towards the law establishment.

Addressing these systematic challenges requires concerted efforts to overhaul the police system, ensuring accountability, modernization, and sensitivity to societal needs.


  • Working group of Police Training Report, 1972- widened police training to include law, order & human behavior.
  • National Police Commission, 1977- provided a report covering all police aspects.
  • Jublio Ribeiro Committee, 1998- reviewed previous recommendations & suggested police performance & accountability commission.
  • Malimath & Padmanabhan Committee, 2000- providing 150 recommendations, including separation of investigation & witness protection.
  • Police Act Drafting Committee (Sorabjee Committee), 2005- recommended reforming the police system, addressing issues regarding women’s rights.
  • Supreme Court guidelines on Prakash Singh Vs. UOI, 2006- issued guidelines binding over state & central government for police reforms.
  • 5th Report on 2nd ARC (Public Order), 2007- emphasized separating investigation & holding state government accountable for police functions.

Despite these recommendations, law making authorities have sheerly neglected them, with no state or union territory fully compliance.


In the sphere of education, there has been a discernible shift towards promoting Indian civilization to in still a sense of nationalism & patriotism among the younger generation. This transaction marks a departure from the erstwhile emphasis on leftist & moralist ideologies in educational disclosure. While this change is commendable, a similar ideological overhaul is notably absent in the reform efforts concerning the police system governed by the Indian Police Act, which has remained largely unchanged for the past 75 years.  These laws grant extensive power to the police force, enabling them to suppress dissent & engage in potentially inhumane treatment of citizens. Despite the evolving societal needs and advancement, many states have enacted their own laws governing the police, resulting in a fragment and disjointed legal framework that fails to adequately address contemporary challenges.

Efforts to reform the police system have been initiated in the past, including the establishment of the National Police Commission in 1979. However, the implementation of reform measures has been sluggish. A significant legal milestone was reached in 1996 with the Prakash Singh case, where directives were issued by the Supreme Court to initiate police reforms. These directives aimed to address key issues such as accountability, tenure stability for officers, and the separation of investigation & law enforcement function.

In 2006, the Supreme Court reiterate ed theses directives, emphasizing the establishment of national & state security commissions and advocating for the separation of investigation function within the police force. Despite the clarity and urgency conveyed by these directives, their implementation has been hampered by bureaucratic inertia & political apathy. This reluctance to enact meaningful reforms underscores the challenges inherent in navigating the complex interplay between legal frameworks, political dynamics, and bureaucratic hurdles. While judicial interventions have provided a framework for reform, their effectiveness ultimately depends on the willingness of political authorities to translate these directives into concrete action.

In essence, the journey towards comprehensive police reform in India reflects a broader struggle to reconcile historical legacies with contemporary imperatives, highlighting the intricate dynamics at play in reshaping institutional framework to better serve the needs of the society.


It is imperative to address pressing issues, especially regarding police reform. To achieve this, two significant steps can be taken:

  1. Passing the Model Police Act, recommended by parliament & ensuring its implementation with the support of elected parties in respective states, thereby influencing other states to adopt similar measures.
  2. Pursuing a constitutional amendment to shift police from the state list to the concurrent list. This would empower parliament to directly apply laws to all states, by passing conflicting sate laws & ensuring uniformity.

Furthermore, reform efforts should begin with a political & criminal justice system. Recommendations from committees like Malimath committee should be implemented, and the Supreme Court guidelines from landmark cases should be enforced. Additionally, leveraging technology, such as mandatory CCTV installation in police stations and investigation agencies, can safeguard citizen’s rights & prevent custodial torture, as highlighted in cases like Paramvir Singh Saini VS. Baljit Singh & ors. As these measures are crucial for ensuring a dignified life for all living beings.

By: Esha Gandhi (intern)

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