Police as Functionaries of Criminal Procedure Code

Article for Blog Post Writing Competition 2011 | by Ritwik Sneha

May 30th, 20118:57 pm


The Police force in the country is entrusted with the responsibility of maintenance of public order and prevention and detection of crimes.[1] Each state and union territory of India has its own separate police force. Article 246 of the Constitution of India designates the police as a state subject, which means that the state governments frame the rules and regulations that govern each police force. These rules and regulations are contained in the police manuals of each state force.

The Police force in the state is headed by the Director General of Police/Inspector General of Police. Each State is divided into convenient territorial divisions called ranges and each police range is under the administrative control of a Deputy Inspector General of Police. A number of districts constitute the range. District police is further sub-divided into police divisions, circles and police-stations.

Causes for popular dissatisfaction with the police


Police corruption is defined as the “abuse of police authority for personal or organizational gain by a police officer acting officially”.[2]

The most important elements of police corruption are misuse of authority and misuse of personal attainment. Widespread corruption at every level of the administrative department poses as a great obstacle in its working, efficiently and effectively. It inverts the goals of the organisation, that is, it may encourage and create crime rather than deter it. One of the main causes for this is that the police officials have ceased to act as professionals and are politicized to a great extent.. General police corruption includes bribery or exchange of money or something of value between the police and the wrong doer. Other police crimes may range from brutality, fake encounters, sexual harassment, custodial crimes, to illicit use of weapons.
Police Corruption is also violation of human rights as it denies some very basic rights to the citizens.

Some of the high profile cases which have caught the national attention as they focus on our justice system and the prevailing corruption condition are: Jessica Lal Murder Case, Priyadarshini Mattoo’s Murder Case, Shivani Bhatnagar’s Murder Case,Nitish Katara’s Murder Case


The task of improving the existing situation cannot be left to the police department alone. Political authorities and the Union Home Ministry have to step in for stopping the situation from deteriorating further and also for it’s betterment. A public interest litigation filed by the former Director General of Border Security Force, Prakash Singh was one of the first initiative taken up in the direction to clean up the corruption in the country’s police force.[3] He believed that India required a police force with a different working philosophy. He said that, after thirty-five years of experience he got an insight into the politicisation, corruption, and criminalisation of the force. A committee to draft an Act for making the working of the police department transparent and accountable was constituted on 20th September 2005. It is called The Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC).

Keeping in mind the recommendations to be given by the Committee, the Supreme Court had set the deadline as 31st December 2006 for the Central and State governments to implement these reforms so as to keep country’s police administration above political interference and corruption.


Custodial Violence means torture in police custody. However, the word “torture” has not been defined in the Constitution or in other Penal Laws of India. The custodial violence by police over the victim is essentially an instrument to impose the will of the   “strong” over the “weak” by suffering. It is a serious violation of human dignity which can destroy, to a very large extent, the personality of any individual.
Custodial Violence is among the worst crime in a civilized society. It is a blatant violation of human dignity. It strikes at the very roots of the rule and law. Custodial death in India is defined as is the one occurring during the period the person is in the custody of police, prison or any other institutions set up by the State for detention, as mentioned in the Entry-4, State List (List II)[4] . Custodial violence and abuse of police power is not only peculiar to this country but it is also widespread.

One way of curbing custodial violence is to make such activity on the part of police officers a crime punishable either judicially or departmentally. Section 7 of the Police Act 1861 empowers the higher police officers to “dismiss, suspend or reduce any officer of the subordinate ranks whom they shall think remiss or negligent in discharge of his duty or unfit for the same.” But experience shows that this sanction has not proved effective.


Policing in democratic societies is governed by the rule of law and is indeed a difficult and challenging task. Given the fact that the Indian police force was trained in the past to serve the objectives of colonial rule and has not yet been granted the autonomy, resources and training for professionalization in a democratic milieu, its performance has not been entirely disappointing. Compared with many other departments of the government, the police by and large have served the public good even in adverse circumstances.

A lot can be achieved towards change in public perceptions and to improve the standards of policing if the leadership within the police organisation is fully committed to reform. Another reform that can be brought about by the police themselves is with respect to the adoption of fair, quick and responsible methods of redress for complaints against the police. The system has to be institutionalized and integrated with police roles and responsibilities.

All sections of society, particularly the media, can help improve the status and efficiency of the police force. They can attempt not to disparage the police without justification.

The police, the government and society each have a role to play in improving the law enforcement situation and in developing human rights oriented police in the country. If the government had accepted the recommendations of the National Police Commission and set up state security commissions, the work of coordinating action among the three constituents could have been undertaken.



The Committee appears to focus on the lack of resources of police rather than squarely addressing the problems of abuses within the policing system and acknowledging the strong stake that all those involved in policing have in maintaining the status quo, which has to date ensured against reform. However, the Committee appears to suggest that the police monitor their own impartiality.

The work of the Malimath Committee starts with the presumption that the only reason for failure of the criminal justice dispensation system in India is the failure of the judiciary. The reason attributed for this failure according to the committee’s report is the complexity of law. In this process the committee finds fault with the basic legislations – the Code of Criminal Procedure, Evidence Act and the Constitution.

The recommendations of the Padmanabaiah Commission were to do away with these principles. The interest of the Padmanabaiah Commission was to cater a police state and that was the reason for which it was constituted. A country cannot change its basic laws in tune with the police commission reports. The little protection against arbitrariness in policing in India emanates from the Constitutional guarantee under Article 21 and further supported by the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Evidence Act. These are in tune with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The British colonial authorities passed this act in the aftermath of the first major revolt against their rule, the 1857 “First War of Independence”. The Act gave the political masters of the country (then the British colonialists) absolute control over the police, making them in effect their vassals. Police officers could be disciplined and transferred at will, and used where needed in any way deemed fit by those in authority. They became, in effect, the personal civil armed force of the Raj. Today, the “democratic” chief ministers and home ministers in each Indian state wield these powers. Under the Constitution of India, law and order is a subject that falls within the jurisdiction of the state governments thereby reducing sharply the reach of the central government into police administration in the states. Chief ministers and home ministers who are effective and reasonably honest ensure that the force gets used primarily for the purpose for which it is intended; the preservation of public order and the prevention or detection of criminal activity. Others convert the police into instruments of personal power and abuse, to the detriment of the ordinary citizen. Law and order has always been the state government’s prerogative, while the responsibility for maintaining the same rests with the police department.

[1] The Police Act, 1861, Preamble.

[2] International Encyclopaedia of Justice Studies (IEJS).

[3] Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006) 3 SCC (Cri) 417.

[4] Jain M.P, The Indian Constitution.


Article by-

Ritwik Sneha

Student, Amity Law School

[Submitted as an entry for the MightyLaws.in Blog Post Writing Competition, 2011]


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