RSTV: THE BIG PICTURE- POLICE COMMISSIONER SYSTEM
UP govt has approved the commissionerate system of policing state capital Lucknow and Noida . This system gives more responsibilities including magisterial powers to IPS officers of the rank of Inspector general of Police who are posted as Commissioner. Many states have adopted the commissionerate system at the metropolitan level to facilitate faster decision making in solving complex urban centric issues. According to a BPRD report 61 cities in 15 states had this system in place by January , 2018 . Sixth National police Commission report released in 1983 had recommended introduction of commissionerate system in cities with a population of 5 lakh and above. Later in 2005 a draft Model Police Act framed by a committee set up by the Union Home Ministry also made similar recommendation saying metro cities and major urban areas with a population of 10 lakhs or more should have a Police Commissioner System
In the last three decades, UP has experienced rapid urban growth that has given rise to many large cities. Policing needs of these mega cities are very different from rural areas. People, in these cities, expect immediate and coordinated response under a unified command system. The expectation of policing standards is higher and often exacting.
The colonial administration had created commissioner system in the presidency towns of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras recognising the unique needs of urban areas. Over a period of time, this system has been found to be most effective in meeting policing requirements of big cities across India. Such a governance reform will lead to perceptible improvement in law and order and citizen satisfaction with the police.
The National Police Commission, in its sixth report submitted in March 1981, recommended that in major urban areas, crime and law and order situations develop rapidly, requiring a speedy and effective operational response from. This is best achieved when the police are organised around a unitary chain of command to perform the twin basic functions of decision-making and enforcement.
As per the recommendation of the 1966 Khosla Commission, the police commissioner system was introduced in Delhi from July 1, 1978, when Charan Singh was the home minister. In the normal police system there is a diarchy. Most of the preventive and regulatory powers are with executive magistrates, but enforcement is carried out by the police. This requires that both magistracy and police must always think alike, consult, agree and take prompt as well as decisive action.
The state government exercises control and superintendence over the state police forces. At the district level, the District Magistrate (DM) may also give directions to the SP and supervise police administration. This is called the dual system of control (as authority is vested in both the DM and SP) at the district level.
In some metropolitan cities and urban areas, however, the dual system has been replaced by the Commissionerate system to allow for quicker decision-making in response to complex law and order situations
- Dual command structure over the district police means that control and direction over the police vests with the SP (head of district police) and the District Magistrate (executive).
- Separation of powers of the DM (e.g., issues arrest warrants and licenses) and the police (e.g., investigate crimes and make arrests). Therefore, less concentration of power in the police, and accountability to DM at the district level.
- SP is assisted by Additional/Assistant/ Deputy SPs, Inspectors and constabulary
- Unified command structure with the Commissioner of Police (rank of the Deputy Inspector General or above) as the sole head of the force within the city. Allows for quicker responses to law and order situations.
- Powers of policing and magistracy concentrated in Commissioner. Directly accountable to state government and state police chief. Lesser accountability to the local administration.
- Commissioner is assisted by Special/ Joint/ Additional/ Deputy Commissioners, etc. Inspector downwards rank structure is the same
Can commissioner system solve the woes of large cities like Lucknow?
- It gives an integrated command structure. It helps fix responsibility with the Commissioner and eliminates blame game between civil administration and police when something goes wrong.
- However, according to Singh, the Commissionerate system faces a lot of resistance from the IAS lobby.
- The commissionerate system only provides an enabling structure to delivering police services in a complex region.
- Ultimately, the officer in charge and the culture he ushers will matter. What will matter the most is how the government deals with him.
- The next plausible step would be to introduce further police reforms based on 2006 Supreme Court guidelines.
- From a state infamous for crime, Uttar Pradesh can emerge as a success-story of efficient and effective policing.
The advantages of the commissioner system:
- The responsibility of law and order maintenance is vested in a commissioner and there is complete clarity on chain of command as well as accountability.
- There is only one single point of responsibility when it comes to law and order, ie the commissioner of police.
- The commissioner of police is directly and totally accountable to the state government for his performance. Thus, the reporting system is clear.
- The commissioner system provides unified organisational command structure and powers to manage problems created by urban growth such as encroachment, anti-social activities, sudden law and order situations, illicit/ illegal liquor sale, drug peddling, etc.
- It also creates necessary organisational independence and homogeneity so that the police are able to use their professional understanding to deal with contemporary urban problems like traffic regulation and evolve and innovate according to ground realities.
- It provides specialisation in training and personnel management and faster and more effective response.