QUESTION : Issues facing police administration and reasons for lack of full implementation of the directives given by the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case. Critically analyse.
STILL AWAITING POLICE REFORMS
Police Reforms In India
WHY IN INDIA ?
The police have been in the news for incidents involving violence and killings. These instances points to the urgent need for the implementation of the Supreme Court directives given in the Prakash Singh case.
PAST ATTEMPTS FOR POLICE REFORMS:
- The first serious attempt was when the National Police Commission (NPC) was set up in 1977.
- The NPC submitted eight reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs between 1979 and 1981.
- Seven of these reports were circulated to the States in 1983.
Prakash Sing Case.
- No action was taken on the reports of the reports until 1996.
- In 1996 Prakash Singh, a retired IPS officer, filed a PIL in the apex court in 1996 demanding the implementation of the NPC’s recommendations.
- In 2006, the Supreme Court issued a slew of directives on police reform.
DIRECTIONS OF SC IN PRAKASH SINGH VS UNION OF INDIA :
- Constitute a State Security Commission in every state that will lay down policy for police functioning, evaluate police performance, and ensure that state governments do not exercise unwarranted influence on the police.
- Constitute a Police Establishment Board in every state that will decide postings, transfers and promotions for officers below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, and make recommendations to the state government for officers of higher ranks.
- Constitute Police Complaints Authorities at the state and district levels to inquire into allegations of serious misconduct and abuse of power by police personnel.
- Provide a minimum tenure of at least two years for the DGP and other key police officers (e.g., officers in charge of a police station and district) within the state forces, and the Chiefs of the central forces to protect them against arbitrary transfers and postings.
- Ensure that the DGP of state police is appointed from amongst three senior-most officers who have been empanelled for the promotion by the Union Public Service Commission on the basis of length of service, good record and experience.
- Separate the investigating police from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people.
- Constitute a National Security Commission to shortlist the candidates for appointment as Chiefs of the central armed police forces.
- In India, the political executive has the power of superintendence and control over the police forces to ensure their accountability.
- Only six States provided a minimum tenure of two years to the Director General of Police (DGP).
- A report of the NITI Aayog shows that the composition of recommended authorities in several states is at variance with the Model Police Act, 2006 and the Supreme Court directions.
- Vacancies and an overburdened force: Vacancies have been around 24%-25% in state police forces since 2009.
- Poor quality of investigations: Crime per lakh population has increased by 28% over the last decade (2005-2015). However, convictions were secured in only 47% of the cases registered under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- Improving police infrastructure: CAG audits have found shortages in weaponry with state police forces.
- Funding issues: Expenditure on police accounts for about 3% of the central and state government budgets.
- An overburdened police force: While the sanctioned police strength was 181 police per lakh persons in 2016, the actual strength was 137 police per lakh persons. Note that the United Nations recommended standard is 222 police per lakh persons.
- Low incentives for performance: 86% of the state police comprises constabulary. Constables are typically promoted once during their service. This could weaken their incentive to perform well.
WAY FORWARD :
- Expecting political will to implement police reforms is difficult to come by, it is for the judiciary to step in and enforce the directives it had passed.
- Police-public relations: One of the ways of addressing this challenge is through the community policing model. For example Janamaithri Suraksha in Kerala.
- Constabulary related issues: A constable is expected to have some analytical and decision-making capabilities, and the ability to deal with people with tact, understanding and firmness.
- Reducing the burden: The Second Administrative Reforms Commission has recommended to outsource or redistribute some non-core police functions (such as traffic management, disaster rescue and relief, and issuing of court summons) to government departments or private agencies.
- Police Complaints Authority: And it must implement the Supreme Court’s directive on setting up a Police Complaints Authority in every state of India.
A bold step towards bringing down crimes is possible only when the politicians-criminals-police nexus is strangled
QUESTION : Critically analyse the performance of the National Green Tribunal in safeguarding environmental rights.
THE HUES IN THE GREEN TRIBUNAL’S RESILIENT JOURNEY
National Green Tribunal (NGT)
WHY IN NEWS?
October 18 was a significant day, as it marked the 10th anniversary of the National Green Tribunal, or NGT.
WHAT IS NATIONAL GREEN TRIBUNAL (NGT)?
It is a specialised body set up under the National Green Tribunal Act (2010) for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
With the establishment of the NGT, India became the third country in the world to set up a specialised environmental tribunal, only after Australia and New Zealand, and the first developing country to do so.
NGT is mandated to make disposal of applications or appeals finally within 6 months of filing of the same.
The NGT has five places of sittings, New Delhi is the Principal place of sitting and Bhopal, Pune, Kolkata and Chennai are the other four.
STRUCTURE OF NGT :
The Tribunal comprises of the Chairperson, the Judicial Members and Expert Members. They shall hold office for term of five years and are not eligible for reappointment.
The Chairperson is appointed by the Central Government in consultation with Chief Justice of India (CJI).
A Selection Committee shall be formed by central government to appoint the Judicial Members and Expert Members.
There are to be least 10 and maximum 20 full time Judicial members and Expert Members in the tribunal.
POWERS AND JURISDICTION :
The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all civil cases involving substantial question relating to environment (including enforcement of any legal right relating to environment).
Being a statutory adjudicatory body like Courts, apart from original jurisdiction side on filing of an application, NGT also has appellate jurisdiction to hear appeal as a Court (Tribunal).
The Tribunal is not bound by the procedure laid down under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, but shall be guided by principles of ‘natural justice’.
While passing any order/decision/ award, it shall apply the principles of sustainable development, the precautionary principle and the polluter pays principle.
The NGT deals with civil cases under the seven laws related
to the environment, these include:
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974,
The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act,
The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,
The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,
The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,
The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and
The Biological Diversity Act, 2002.
Any violation pertaining to these laws or any decision taken by the Government under these laws can be challenged before the NGT
PERFORMANCE OF NGT:
The NGT has created a new breed of legal practitioners,
- protected vast acres of forest land,
- halted polluting construction activities in metros and smaller towns.
- It has penalised errant officials who have turned a blind eye towards enforcing the laws, and held large corporate entities to account.
- It has protected the rights of tribal communities and ensured the enforcement of the “polluter pays” principle in letter and spirit.
- Dilution of criteria: The Central Government attempted to dilute the criteria for appointments to the NGT and other tribunals. The rules were ultimately suspended by the Supreme Court.
KEY CHALLENGES :
- Administrative problems
- NGT has never got the minimum strength of ten judicial and ten expert members to address the increasing number of environmental litigations across the country.
- The great majority of cases are not resolved within the stipulated time-period of six months.
- The act has limited the jurisdiction of tribunal to “substantial question of environment” i.e. situations where ‘damage to public health is broadly measurable’ or ‘significant damage to environment’ or relates to ‘Point Source of Pollution.
- The qualifications for a technical member are more favorable to bureaucrats (especially retired) and to irrelevant technocrats.
- There are also serious challenges as far as implementation of the NGT orders is concerned.
WAY FORWARD :
- Strengthening it by giving more powers and by investing in itsinfrastructure.
- Judicial review is an important power that must be given to NGT.
- Other environment-related laws must be included within NGT’S ambit.
- NGT also needs to put certain systems in place for transparent decision-making.
- NGT needs to establish principles and criteria to estimate fines, damages and compensation.
- It should also identify institutions and experts who can help it to scientifically estimate environmental damages/compensation/fines on a case-to-case basis.
- NGT must put internal checks and balances for efficient and transparent delivery of justice.
- Suomotu jurisdiction has to be an integral feature of NGT for better and effective functioning.
- There is a need for the central and state governments to work in collaboration with the NGT for an effective outcome.
In the present era, equilibrium between development and environment is of utmost importance.