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The 2006 Supreme Court ruling on police reforms

Topics Covered: Role of civil services in a democracy.

The 2006 Supreme Court ruling on police reforms:


The Supreme Court has stated that the landmark judgment of Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006), which dealt with police reforms, is used periodically only as a mantra, to suit the occasion whenever it arises.

What’s the issue?

The latest episode of allegations of lobbying by several IPS officers in Maharashtra and of ‘power brokers’ deciding on postings in cahoots with the government shows little has changed in the system.

What is the SC’s Prakash Singh judgment on police reforms?

Prakash Singh, who served as DGP of UP Police and Assam Police besides other postings, filed a PIL in the Supreme Court post retirement, in 1996, seeking police reforms.

  • In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court in September 2006 had directed all states and Union Territories to bring in police reforms.

What measures were suggested by the Supreme Court?

  1. Fixing the tenure and selection of the DGP to avoid situations where officers about to retire in a few months are given the post.
  2. In order to ensure no political interference, a minimum tenure was sought for the Inspector General of Police so that they are not transferred mid-term by politicians.
  3. Postings of officers should be done by Police Establishment Boards (PEB) comprising police officers and senior bureaucrats to insulate powers of postings and transfers from political leaders.
  4. Set up State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA) to give a platform where common people aggrieved by police action could approach.
  5. Separate investigation and law and order functions to better improve policing.
  6. Set up of State Security Commissions (SSC) that would have members from civil society.
  7. Form a National Security Commission.

How did states respond to these directives?

Following the 2006 judgment, not even one state was fully compliant with the apex court directives.

  • 18 states passed or amended their Police Acts in this time, but not one fully matches legislative models.


Prelims Link:

  1. When was the National Police Commission established?
  2. Ribeiro committee is associated with?
  3. Key recommendations made by Malimath Committee.
  4. Police under 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution.
  5. Prakash Singh case is more popularly associated with?


Write a note on police reforms.

Sources: Indian Express.