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Indian Police Act (ipa) of 1861

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It is the inbred duty of the state to provide for a non-partisan and efficient police authority that will facilitate in shielding the interests of the people. “Police” being a state subject under the Constitution of India, the onus falls upon the state government to provide for a streamlined police force. Quite a few years have passed since the prominent judgement of the Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Singh v. Union of India on police reforms exhorting the central and the state government to modify the police system making it more people centric than ruler centric but the ground reality seems to be unvaried. During our colonial time people had a fear of Police owing to the fact that the very fabrication of colonial police is based on wariness, and the image associated with it was robust but now that fabrication needs to be reviewed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the 49th Annual Conference of Director General of Police and heads of all Central police organisations rightly stated about building of a SMART Police which would be sensitive, mobile, alert, reliable and techno-savvy and also allocated a sum of 25,000 Crore for the same but there seems to be a long road to such a reform as almost after 70 years of Independence we are still being enormously hegemonized by the Indian Police Act (IPA) of 1861. British formulated the IPA as a ramification of the Mutiny of 1857. It was based on colonial wariness of the subservient ranks. After independence, though certain steps were taken to change the outlook, the police system substantially remains the same.

In the case of Prakash Singh v. Union of India, the Supreme Court directed the central and the state government to abide by the set of seven prescriptions that laid down the practical procedure to kick-start police reforms to revamp and to deal with the complications in present police laws. The court sought to achieve increased answerability and autocracy in the functioning of police through its directives. In a nutshell directives of the court were:

  • Recruitment of DGP to take place through a merit-based transparent affair and secures a term of 2 years minimally.
  • Establishing Police Complaints Authority at state and district level to look into public grievances against police officers in cases of acute delinquency.
  • Constituting National Security Commission at the Union level to formulate an advisory panel for recruitments and placements of Chiefs of Police Organisations.
  • Erecting Police Establishment Board to adjudicate on transfers, postings, promotions and other service related episode of police officers subservient to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). After these directions were emanated many states enacted specific legislative procedurals for the police force but there are some states who have not yet complied with these recommendations.

Analysing the Police Act of 1861

The Indian Police Act, 1861 was formulated as a consequence of the Mutiny of 1857 to bring in a streamlined regime of Police to check such acts further. The National Police Commission, 1979-81 (NPC) felt the need for rehabilitation and hence it went on to draft a Model Police Act in its Eighth Report propounded in 1981 though it was never adopted by any state yet it served as an example for nascent initiatives of ones trying to reform the out of date police laws. In its report, Commission recognized indiscriminate arrests by police as a prime headspring for corruption and believed that power of arrest must be used only in the rarest of the rare cases.

Appetite for police amelioration is not a new one; people have demanded reformation in police even before our independence various commissions and committees like Ribero Committee, Malinath Committee, Padmanabhaiah Committee, National Police Commission have submitted multiple recommendations and reports which are just collecting blemishes of dust with none thoroughly implemented. Problem is that cavalier attitudes towards law and procedures are eroding the faith of people in the police. People nowadays have little or no faith in the police.

The Police Act, 1861 vests the superintendence of the police directly in the hands of the state government making it more colonial in attitude rather it should be more people friendly this is what needs to be looked into there is a need to bring in police revamping statutes so that police can be made explicable by the citizens. All in all the Police Act of 1861 needs to be replaced with legislation that manifests the democratic nature of India and the transmuting times.

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Indian Police Act (IPA) of 1861. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 21, 2021, from
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