The Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms

The great poet P.B. Shelley in his major prose work ‘A Philosophical View of Reform’ published in 1920 advocated non-violence and opposed repressive measures adopted by the British government. He argued that individual as well as institutional reform went hand in hand. Indian police is also an example of repressive measures adopted by British government in our country to have total control and to oppose revolution. The Welfare state as envisaged in the Constitution of India needs police not only as a law enforcing agency but also as a service provider catering to the security, safety and well being of society. In the context of changing scenario we need a theory shift and total renovation of our police.The mayhem committed by our police during the Emergency (1975-77) led to the formation of National Police Commission in 1977 with the objective of reforming the police. The Commission produced eight reports later on other Committees like Ribeiro Committee, High Power Committee, and The Padmanabhaiah Committee and at last The Police Act Drafting Committee were also constituted. In this project work I have tried to focus on The Padmanabhaiah Committee.

As India is preparing itself for voting in this Lok Sabha Elections the Human Rights issues are unfortunately seen as fringe issues during elections instead of it the political parties are promoting the issues like economic development etc. We are following century old procedure; our police are highly politicised and almost acting as an agent of ruling party.

The crimes like trespass etc are agrarian crimes, now society is getting dynamic and new crimes like statutory crimes, white-collar crimes are evolving but police is still static. In this project work I highlighted the terms of reference and recommendations of the committee.

Composition of the Committee

In January 2000 the Government of India announced the formation of this committee .The composition of this Committee was as follows:

Shri. K. Padmanabhaiah – Chairman, Ex-Union Home Secretary
Shri. Vijay Karan, IPS (Retd.) – Member
Shri M. D Sharma, IPS (Retd.) – Member
Shri. Amitabh Gupta, IPS – Member
Shri. B. B Nanda, IPS – Member –Secretary

Shri Padmanabhaiah headed the committee on police reforms. The aim of the committee was to look into the organisation and structure of the police system. The committee suggested reforms in the recruitment of the police mainly.

Terms of reference

To examine and specify the challenges that the police in India would face during the next millennium.
To evaluate the strength and weaknesses of the police force, as it is organised and structured today, to see if it would be able to meet those challenges.
To understand and appreciate the gap between the public’s expectations and police performance, and whether this gap can be filled without making any basic changes in the structure, organisation and the attitudes of the police.
To envision a new look, cultured, people-friendly and a fighting-fit police force which is able to win the confidence and trust of the people and, at the same time, can effectively tackle the problems of organised crime, militancy and terrorism.
To examine and bring out the changes which should be made in the following systems to transform our police into a most professional and competent force:

(a) Recruitment at different levels.(b)Training – both induction and in-service.(c)Career planning at all levels

(d)Accountability of the police

(e)Redressal of public grievances

(f)Redressal of police grievances

(g)Police Station of the Next Millennium

(h)Villages and city police

(i)Techniques of investigation

(j)Prosecution of cases

(k)Management of traffic

(l)Dealing with women and weaker sections of society

(vi)To suggest measures to equip the police to adequately meet the challenges of the modern, hi-tech criminal and of cyber crime

(vii) To recommend changes in the weaponry, communication and mobility of the police force

(viii) To examine how the intelligence gathering machinery could be revamped, both at the Centre and within the states, and how their mutual interaction for intelligence sharing could be made faster and more reliable

(ix) To devise methods of insulating the police from politicisation and criminalisation

(x) To devise ways of securing public trust and cooperation in preventing and solving crime

(xi) To examine the need to clarify some crimes as “federal crimes” and to create a Federal Law Enforcement Agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs

(xii) The structural changes that need to be introduced for the police to function more efficiently and professionally.

Summary of Recommendations made by the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms

1. There should be a greater recruitment of Sub-Inspectors instead of Constables. Recruitment to constabulary should be restricted till a teeth-to-tail ratio of 1:4 is achieved as against present ratio, which ranges from 1:7 to 1: 15 in different states.

2.Constables should be recruited young. Boys/girls, who have passed 10th Standard examination and are below 19 years in age, should be eligible to appear in a common competitive qualifying examination. The successful candidates should be put through a rigorous 2-year training programme and qualify for appointment as constables only after passing a final examination.

3.The existing constabulary should be retrained to enable them to imbibe right attitudes to work. Those who do not successfully complete training should be compulsorily retired.

4.A Police Training Advisory Council should be set up at the centre and in each state to advise the Home Ministers on police training matters.

5.The eligibility criteria for recruitment to the level of Sub-Inspectors should be 12th class pass and an upper age limit of 21 years. They should be recruited on the basis of a common written qualifying examination. The successful candidates must pass a final examination after undergoing a 3-year training programme. 50% of vacancies of Sub-Inspectors should be filled by direct recruitment and 50% reserved for promotions.

6.A constable should be classified as a ‘skilled worker’ in view of the skills required and risks involved in the job.

7.All promotions should be subject to completing the mandatory training programmes and passing of promotional examinations.

8.The Indian Police should adopt the philosophy of community policing. The Government of India should support this by bringing out a handbook on the subject, providing training inputs and funding pilot projects.

9.Lack of a proper tenure policy for posting of officers at different levels and arbitrary transfers have been used by politicians to control and abuse the police for their own ends. To deal with this problem, following action is required:

a) A body headed by the Chief Justice of the State High court as Chairman, State Chief Secretary and an eminent public person as members should be constituted to recommend a panel of two names for appointment to the post of the Director General of Police.

b) A police Establishment Board, consisting of DGP and three other members of the police force selected by him, should be constituted to decide transfers of all officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above.

c) The minimum tenure of all officers should be 2 years

d) Another Committee under the Chief Secretary, with Home Secretary and the DGP as members should be constituted to hear representations from police officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above alleging violation of rules in the matter of postings and transfers.

10.To deal with the problem of corruption in the police, who lead to the criminalisation of the force, the committee has recommended a more serious enforcement of the code of conduct and simpler but more effective procedures for removing corrupt officers.

11.Since police work cannot be organised on an 8-hour shift basis, police personnel should be given a weekly off and compulsorily required to go on earned leave every year. Holiday homes may be constructed for police personnel.

12.Investigation should be separated from law and order work. In the first phase, this separation should take place at police station level in all urban areas. An Additional Superintendent of Police should be exclusively responsible for crime and investigation work.

13.Sections 25 and 26 of the Indian Evidence Act should be deleted and confessions made to police officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police and above should be made admissible in evidence.

14.Every police station should be equipped with ‘investigation kits’ and every sub-division should have a mobile forensic science laboratory.

15.The police leadership, through proper manpower and career planning, improved training, effective supervision and by inculcating a sense of values amongst the members of the force, can play an important role in encouraging specialisation, promoting professionalism and increasing morale in the force.

16.There is an urgent need to encourage specialisation in various aspects of policing.

17.In each district, there should be a crime prevention cell manned by officers who have specialised in crime prevention work.

18.To deal with cyber crime effectively, police capabilities in various areas need to be developed. Capabilities of some police institutions, like the National Police Academy in the field of training, CBI in investigation, Intelligence Bureau in cyber surveillance and the National Crime Records Bureau in cyber technology/forensics should be enhanced.

19.The present classification of offences into cognizable and non-cognizable made 150 years ago is not very relevant today. The Law Commission of India should review the entire classification and the powers of the police to investigate.

20.The concept of VIP security has been grossly, blatantly and brazenly misused. The entire concept of personal security needs a careful review and dismantling.

21. Certain offences having inter-state, national and inter-national repercussions should be declared ‘’federal offences” to be investigated by the Special Crimes Division of the CBI, which should function under the administrative control of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

22.Taking into account the wide ramifications of the terrorist crime, there have to be different norms regarding the burden of proof, degree of proof and the legal procedures in regard to trial of terrorist cases. There is a need for a special and a comprehensive law to fight terrorism.

23.There should be a national counter terrorism coordinator to prepare a comprehensive counter-terrorism plan and budget.

24.A statutory independent Inspectorate of Police should be set up to carry out annual as well as thematic inspections of the police force and to report to the state government whether the police force is functioning efficiently and effectively.

25.A non statutory District Police Complaints Authority (DPCA) should be set up with theDistrict Magistrate as the Chairman and a senior Additional Sessions Judge, the District Superintendent of Police and an eminent citizen nominated by the DM as members. Investigations into public complaints against the police should in the first instance be done by the police department itself. Those who are not satisfied can approach the DPCA.

26.There should be a mandatory judicial inquiry into all cases of alleged rape of a woman or death of any person in police custody.

27.The Government of India should establish a permanent National Commission forPolicing Standards to lay down norms and standards for all police forces on matters of common concern and to see that that the State Governments set up mechanisms to enforce such standards.

28. The release of central grants for modernisation or upgradation funds should be dependent upon compliance by state governments with certain basic issues, like each state having a manpower and career planning system, a transparent recruitment, promotion and transfer policy and meeting certain minimum standards for training.

29. The Police Act of 1861 should be replaced by a new Act.

30. The State Government must give high priority to the allocation of resources to the police.

31. There should be a permanent National Commission for Police Standards and (NCPs) to set standards and to see that State Governments set up mechanisms to enforce such standards.

32. There is need for comprehensive reforms in criminal justice administration. Public would soon lose faith in the criminal justice system unless the other components of the systems are also thoroughly overhauled simultaneously.

Special features of report:

Politicisation and Criminalisation of the Police

The Committee recognises that politicisation and criminalisation of the police force has been growing. According to the Committee, “Corruption is the root cause of both politicisation and criminalisation of the police.” If the word “corruption” had been interpreted in a wide sense, to mean decline in the public standards and value systems affecting the institutions of society and governance, this analysis could have been accepted. However, the recommendations made by the Committee “to curb the growing trend of criminalisation” clearly show that this is not what it means. These recommendations include (I) raising the status of the constabulary and improving their service and living conditions; (ii) preparing a new Departmental Inquiry Manual and a new Code of Conduct for the police; (iii ) filing of property returns both by gazetted as well as non gazetted police officers; (iv) improving the in-house vigilance within the police department; (v) improving the accessibility of police officers to the public; and (vi) reviewing the record of arrests made by the police station staff.There are two problems in accepting this narrow interpretation of the problem of increasing criminalisation of the police. Firstly, criminalization of the police is not confined merely to corruption in the financial sense. There is ample evidence of different types of police deviance increasing in India. The newspapers everyday report incidents of brutality, murder, rape, grievous hurt and other crimes committed by police personnel, which are not necessarily motivated by financial considerations. A couple of years ago, the CHRI did a media scan on “criminality amongst police personnel”, which revealed that over the last few years there had been an increasing involvement of police personnel in committing crimes. Two findings of this scan are relevant here. One, this involvement is confined not merely to flouting of departmental rules and regulations or in indulging in peccadilloes, but to committing the most heinous and sordid crimes. Two, it is not merely police personnel of lower ranks who are involved in crimes, but even the officers of higher ranks. In fact, the number of officers committing crimes is showing signs of increase.Secondly, criminalisation of police cannot be de-linked from criminalisation of politics. It is the criminalisation of politics, which has produced and promoted a culture of impunity that allows the wrong type of policeman to get away with his sins of commission and omission. The Committee’s report does not suggest effective mechanisms to deal with these basic issues.

The Committee ascribes the growing political interference in the police administration and its work to “recruitment and transfer policies/procedures, failure of political leadership and the failure of police leadership.” The Committee is of the view that most problems of police are due to arbitrary and frequent transfers of police personnel of different ranks and once the powers in this regard are given to the departmental hierarchy, political interference in policing will be reduced. For this purpose, the Committee has recommended that a Police Establishment Board, consisting of the Director General of Police as its chairman and four other members of the police department, should be constituted “to decide the transfers of all officers of the ranks of Deputy Superintendent of Police and above”. This idea has been borrowed from the Ribiero Committee on Police Reforms, but modified by the Committee. While the Ribiero Committee had suggested the creation of the Board to decide “transfers, promotions, rewards, punishments, including suspensions and all service related matters of officers of and below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police,” the Committee wants the Board to deal with only transfers and that too only of officers of and above the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police.

The Committee is silent how the Board should be established. The only recommendation made is that the service rules should be amended. We are of the view that it is not the rules that really promote or obstruct illegitimate interference of outsiders in the police organisation. Rules invariably leave room for discreet interpretation to suit the convenience or interests of those in power.

Rules can be easily amended and even more conveniently overlooked with impunity in the absence of any opposition. The crux of the problem is that the entire organisation has become vulnerable to outside illegitimate pressures. The senior leadership in the police in majority of cases has shown itself either too weak or too willing to resist the pressures. The scheme suggested by the Committee is not likely to reduce the vulnerability of the organisation and its leadership. It is too simplistic to presume that giving fixed tenure of service to officers will result in breaking the nexus between politicians and police officers.

In some cases, it may in fact promote the symbiotic relationship between the two. To reduce political interference, the Committee has suggested that “(I) coordination with the secretariat should be the function of the DG/Commissioner of Police” or their nominee and “no one else should frequent the Secretariat”; and “(ii) any officer approaching a politician for transfers/ postings, training, rewards etc. should be severely dealt with.” However, “oral/written representation to the Chief Minister, Home Minister, Minister of State for Home would be legitimate.” These suggestions are too naive to inspire confidence or even to draw analytical comments.

Police Accountability

There is ample evidence of increasing police deviance in India. The newspapers everyday report incidents of brutality, extortion and other crimes committed by police personnel in different parts of the country. The annual reports of theNational Human Rights Commission (NHRC) contains details of police atrocities investigated by them. The majority of complaints received by the NHRC are against police personnel. Even the official statistics show that during the year 1997, as many as 123,523 complaints against police were received from the public.What happens to public complaints against police personnel? In other words, Who polices the police and how is it done?

In India, the police are policed mostly by themselves. The existing system has two major faults. One, it does not allow the entire dirt in the police department to come to the surface. Lack of transparency in the working of the system lets some of the muck remain under the carpet. Two, even where an inquiry into a citizen’s complaint against the police is made, it lacks credibility. The public distrust the police and feel that the department is incapable of conducting inquiries into public complaints in a fair and effective manner.

One of the terms of reference of the Padmanabhaiah Committee on Police Reforms (The Committee) was to examine and suggest changes in the existing system of police accountability. The Committee’s examination of the subject, particularly about handling of public complaints against police, has been highly disappointing.

Thus complaints originate from the nature of police job, not from the manner in which that job is done. “Recognising the particular vulnerability of police officers”, the Committee recommends that “all complaints against police personnel should in the first instance be handled by the superior formations in the department itself.” The senior police hierarchy will first decide if the complaints can be resolved informally and then go in for formal investigation by police officers. If action taken does not satisfy the complainant, he can have access to a “non-statutory District Police Complaints Authority.” This Authority will be headed by the District Magistrate (DM) and have the Senior Additional Sessions Judge and District Superintendent of Police and an eminent citizen nominated by the DM as members.

The report is silent about the secretariat of the Authority and the procedure to be followed for informal resolution of, or formal investigation into, complaints.

Two of the four members composing the Authority are a part of the existing executive set-up of the district. The District Police Force, despite being headed by the SP, is subject, according to Section 4 of the Police Act of 1861, to the “general control and direction” of the District Magistrate. The way the system is functioning, the public cannot be expected to repose its trust and confidence in either of the two functionaries. The public can hardly be expected to approach with confidence the very persons who are now being asked to sit in judgement over themselves. This set up is similar to what the Ribiero Committee had recommended. Ribiero had suggested that the Authority should be headed by the District Sessions Judge, while this Committee recommends the DM to head the institution.

The credibility of the proposed institution will be further reduced because the Authority is not being provided with an independent investigation agency of its own. It will depend upon the police force to inquire into public complaints against police personnel. This is precisely the reason why the existing system lacks credibility. No police accountability mechanism can be considered successful if it fails to inspire public confidence. The trend all over the world is to set up complaint mechanisms under law and invest them with resources and authority to guarantee independent and fair investigations into public complaints against police. In the USA, for instance,

Civilian Complaint Review Boards have been set up in about seventy jurisdictions. These are independent non-police civilian agencies, which are empowered to receive, investigate, hear, make findings and recommend action on complaints against police officers. There is an increasing demand from the public that the Boards should be given some powers to discipline the delinquent officers.


It takes much more than reports and enactments to reform something. We have to take note of each and everything to reform our police system. First thing we have to look at is the sociology of police criminality then other points of consideration will be conditions in which police personnel live i.e. quality of their uniform, working conditions, political interference, hours of work, food they eat etc.

Justice Verma Committee recommended Model Police Act 2006, referred by Sorabji as a solution. Model Police Act 2006 included changing technological era in its core as it mentioned use of Science and Technology; it is also focusing on welfare of police by suggesting a Police Welfare Bureau and a separate Police Accountability Commission. In addition to this we also need following three things:

  • Firm political will.
  • Committed and visionary leadership.
  • Respect and support of the public.

REFERENCES/Online sources

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