QUESTION : India needs to wake up to the dire need for police reforms and at the same time  Criminal Justice System in India (CJSI) has been in a state of peril. Identify the major issues and suggest policy measures to reform these .





Delhi Violence of 2020



 The role of the District Magistrate needs to be clearly differentiated from the role of the Police Commissioner.



  • Clashes between of pro- and anti-CAA protesters in Jafrabad, Delhi on February 23 night turned into communal violence and spread across northeast Delhi over the next four to six days.
  • Forty-two people, including a policeman and an IB personnel, lost their lives, while hundreds were injured and shops and houses burnt or destroyed.
  • Hundreds of people have been arrested or detained so far in connection with the violence.
  • But till now, not even a single political leader that made hate speeches which advocated violence in the build-up to the riots has been prosecuted.
  • Delhi Police faced criticism for ineffective handling of the riots.
  • Delhi Police, having magisterial powers under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) to take preventive action, failed to maintain public order



  • Supreme Court has made a distinction between law and order, relating to individual crime, and public order, pertaining to a community at large. The two concepts have different objectives and legal standards.
  • Law and order consists of the analysis made by police of the situation in an area and their commitment to firm action and penalties under criminal law.
  • Public order is a duty imposed on the District Magistrate to assess whether it is necessary to rush to the spot where law and order has been breached to prevent violence spreading and ease tension



  • The District Magistrate’s role is important in exceptional situations — for example, to prevent a breach of peace at a particular place; and also for grievance redress.
  • If an official is allotted a dual role, to both keep in place law and order and maintain public order, this could lead to the displacement of one goal in favour of the other.



  • Distinction between independent actions, for which no political clearance is needed, by the District Magistrate to maintain public order and by the police to investigate crime and make arrests should not be ignored.
  • Maintaining public order requires the District Magistrate to make hard choices between life and property to check violence. Though any death opens the door to an inquiry, there is no justification for lack of effective police action.
  • District Magistrate is expected to consider protest as legitimate, leveraging governmental action to prevent others exploiting the grievance. Hence, the police should distinguish between wider political support and violence caused by a few.



  • Ram Manohar Lohia vs. State of Bihar: Supreme Court held that in the case of ‘public order’, the community or the public at large have to be affected by a particular action as it “embraces more of the community than ‘law and order’, which affects only a few individuals”. In other words, some agitated people going on a vandalising spree affect “public order” only when they affect a particular community as a whole.
  • Madhu Limaye case: Court said that “the emergency must be sudden and the consequences sufficiently grave” for an imposition of restrictions. Extension of a restriction over a larger territorial area or for a longer duration requires a relatively higher justification and calibrated response.
  • Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India: Supreme Court held that prohibitive orders should not prevent legitimate expression of opinion, or exercise of democratic rights. Specific restrictions have to be tailored to the goal and stage of the emergency, requiring the adoption of the least restrictive measure.
  • Aldanish Rein vs State of NCT of Delhi: High Court directed the setting up of an oversight mechanism to periodically review the exercise of magisterial powers by Delhi Police. The Supreme Court is examining whether police officers can act as magistrates in certain cases.


  • Overburdened: Police work under incomprehensible pressure as they are understaffed.
  • Slow filling of vacancies in Police which further aggravates the understaffed situation. More than 5 lakh vacancies exist in police forces as of Jan 2020.
  • They are poorly paid when compared to their counterparts in developed countries.
  • Poor Living Conditions: Police infrastructure is perennially underfunded, and, with some notable exceptions, there are few efforts to improve them.
  • Political Control: They are usually beholden to corrupt and venal superiors.
  • Prejudiced: Many policemen, like the rest of Indians, carry prejudices—hidden and not-so-hidden—which make their performance uneven and unfair.
  • Police Abuse: There are complaints against the police including unwarranted arrests, unlawful searches, torture and custodial rapes.
  • Not Citizen friendly: Interactions with the police are generally considered frustrating, time-consuming and costly.
  • Weak Investigations: Well over 50% of cases filed by the police (nearly 80% in rape cases) end up in acquittals. One of the reasons is that Police often prioritise law & order over investigative matters.
  • Structural issues: 86% of the police force are constables, who have no growth path other than a single promotion (to Head Constable) before they retire. This pushes them to adopt corrupt pathways thus reducing the credibility of Police.
  • Low Public Trust: A study by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) found that less than 25% of Indians trust the police highly (54% for the army).
  • Lack of Uniformity across India: Policing in India is a state subject which means there is significant variation across states.
  • Resource Crunch: Between fiscal 2011 and 2015, states spent 4.4% of their budgeted expenditure on policing on average but this has reduced to 4% over the 2015-19.
  • Frequent Transfer often leads to dilution of accountability of Police actions and inability to implement long-term reforms.



  • The Model Police Act of 2006 was circulated to all the states but many of its fundamental principles that remains unfulfilled. There is a need for state to implement it in letter & spirit (considering the evolved scenario).
  • There is a need to separate law and order from investigation
  • There is a need to have an independent complaints authority to inquire into complaints of police misconduct.
  • To check against such abuse of power there has internal accountability to senior police officers, and independent police oversight authorities.
  • To increase the funding of Police so as to better their infrastructure which reduces the incentives for corruption.
  • Sensitization of Police when dealing with public especially during sensitive issues like rape and dowry.
  • Modernisation of Police Forces in the light of growing cyber crimes.
  • Decriminalization of Politics: These reforms are not implemented due to lack of political will, which in turn could be linked to the growing criminalization of politics.



The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution distinguishes between ‘police’ and ‘public order’. Judicial review of roles and proportionality of decisions for maintaining public order, to check whether they are the least intrusive measure, requires a policy rethink if such duties need to be delegated to the police.


QUESTION : What is meant by global commons? Discuss their significance, concerns and provide a holistic approach for the effective conservation of Natural resources.




Pandemic And Disruption Of Our Environment



This year is defined by a pandemic, record-breaking forest fires, floods and droughts in various places, and the rapid melting of Arctic ice.

  • The disruption of our environment is one of the main factors causing these events.


  • ‘Global Commons’ refers to resource domains or areas that lie outside of the political reach of any one nation State.
  • They are shared resources that cannot be managed within national jurisdictions.
  • Global commons include the earth’s shared natural resources, such as the high oceans, the atmosphere and outer space and the Antarctic.
  • It is a term typically used to describe international, supranational, and global resource domains in which common-pool resources are found.



  • When we want to manage shared resources, we need to balance both private and public interests.
  • Each individual farmer may benefit from turning on the pump to irrigate his/her land, but on a larger scale, it contributes to declining groundwater levels and electricity blackouts.
  • In 1968, biologist Garrett Hardin popularised the notion of the tragedy of the commons, which implies that communities cannot manage their shared resources and require governmental interventions to regulate resource use or privatise the resource.
  • In 1990, political scientist Elinor Ostrom published her landmark book on governing the commons that demonstrated that communities can govern on their own their shared resources, often better than imposed, well-intended solutions from outside.
  • The spread of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19; greenhouse gas emissions; biodiversity reduction; overfishing; and the accumulation of plastic waste are some of the problems within the scope of global commons.



  • Empirical research demonstrates that well-intended solutions imposed on community members are typically short-lived.
  • Multilateral negotiations on climate change and other global commons over decades have had limited success.
  • The consequences of human activities on a global scale are only being recognised in recent times.
  • Although we have a good idea of what kind of governance might be successful at the local community level, these insights do not directly address the challenges we face on a global scale.



  • The key challenge of the global commons is the design of governance structures and management systems capable of addressing the complexity of multiple public and private interests, subject to often unpredictable changes, ranging from the local to the global level.
  • As with global public goods, management of the global commons requires pluralistic legal entities, usually international and supranational, public and private, structured to match the diversity of interests and the type of resource to be managed, and stringent enough with adequate incentives to ensure compliance. Such management systems are necessary to avoid, at the global level, the classic tragedy of the commons, in which common resources become overexploited.
  • Several environmental protocols have been established as a type of international law, “an intergovernmental document intended as legally binding with a primary stated purpose of preventing or managing human impacts on natural resources.


  • When rural and urban communities are allowed to self-govern their shared resources, there could be risks involved for which cities and nations need to accept responsibilities.
  • At the local levels, initiatives and solutions could be developed that fit the local context.
  • When expertise is not available, higher-level organisations could facilitate learning from peers in similar conditions.
  • Failures will be inevitable when local-level experimentation is simulated, and higher-level authorities need to provide insurance for those cases.
  • If local initiatives are successful, higher-level authorities need to ensure that the outcomes of those successes will not be grabbed by outsiders.

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