Home Contact Us
Search :

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#2514, 10 March 2008
Debating the Idea of a Federal Police Agency
Saumitra Mohan
Additional District Magistrate, Office of the District Magistrate, Hooghly
e-mail: saumitra_mohan@hotmail.com

The perceived failure of the Indian police machinery to deal satisfactorily with cases pertaining to law and order has often led to demands for a CBI inquiry in these cases, although they lie in the domain of the states, which  points to the lack of popular confidence in local police systems. This has dented the morale of the provincial police, but also resulted in the CBI being over burdened, and unable to do justice to their original charter.

There is a constant blame game between the Centre and the state governments as seen after the recent serial bomb blasts in Uttar Pradesh, when the Centre shirked its responsibility by saying that law and order was a state subject and that the state government needed to be more vigilant. The latter, however, blamed the Centre for not having provided it with adequate intelligence inputs in this regard.

It is in this situation that a proposal has been mooted for a Federal Police Agency (FPA) to deal with such issues lying in the states’ domain which go beyond normal law and order issues or which require more specialised attention and investigation. The Central Administrative Reforms Committee headed by Veerappa Moily has also recommended such an independent Crime Investigation Agency with its performance being monitored by a high-powered collegium comprising the Chief Minister, Speaker of the Assembly, Chief Justice of the High Court and Leader of the Opposition. The Committee, inter alia, has suggested a State Police Performance and Accountability Commission with the Chief Minister at its head, but with members from civil society to review and evaluate police performance. The Citizens’ Committee has also recommended specific measures for proper supervision of the police force.

The idea of a Federal Police Agency has been around for a long time but there are many issues which need to be discussed and sorted out before setting it up. It should first, be ensured that the jurisdictions of the state police and agencies like the CBI and FPA are clearly demarcated to avoid duplication or overlapping of functions and duties to the extent possible. Inquiries and investigations entrusted to these agencies should also become more systematic than reactive entrustments so to pre-empt any negative reflection on the performance of the local police.

It has been noticed in the recent past that the state governments or High Courts have entrusted enquiries in high-profile cases to the central agency only after there has been a popular outcry demanding the same as was seen in the Nandigram and Rizwanur Rahman  cases in West Bengal, which has a dampening impact on police morale.

While creating this central agency, it should not be ignored or forgotten that there is no substitute for an efficient and effective police force, as this remains the primary level where the State-citizen interface takes place. Hence, the provincial police needs to be further improved, rather than marginalized, by whittling down its authority or overshadowing it by the creation of parallel authorities.

Ergo, increased attention should be paid to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the state police and restoring popular confidence in them. The state police needs to be made more professional and effective, and to ensure this, the police must be allowed to function more independently and autonomously.

The Dharmavira Commission recommended complete police autonomy in the 1970s, but to date no serious thought has been given to this recommendation for the simple reason that the idea does not suit the interests of the political class. The cosmetic changes effected in police organizations consequent to the recent Supreme Court judgements have not made any substantive and qualitative difference to their service delivery. The proposal of the FPA also points to the dilettantism which informs police reforms.

It remains a fact that since law and order is a state subject, frequent calls on the CBI also results in erosion of the authority of the states and, thereby, of the Indian federal structure. The founding fathers never meant India to be a true federation as is obvious from the Constitutional reference to it as a ‘Union of States,’ but centralization of powers beyond a point is not advisable notwithstanding the centralising tendencies seen in federal countries across the world.

Therefore, even as the FPA is being set up, the police force must be made more professional. It must also be better trained and motivated to deal with the demands and challenges of policing in an anomic society.

Note: The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Government of India.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Pakistan: Crouching Democrats, Hidden Khakis
Mullah Fazlullah: Challenges to the ďEliminate or ExtraditeĒ Approach
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistanís Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Stronger Democratic Values for a Better Tomorrow
Sri Lanka and China: Towards Innovation Driven Economies
India-Sri Lanka: Strengthening Regional Cooperation
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
India-Pakistan: Working Boundaries and Lines of Uncontrolled Fire
Of Inquilab and the Inquilabis
Pakistan: Of Messiahs and Marches
Dateline Kabul
Mariam Safi
Can Afghanistan Become a "Perfect Place?"
Afghanistan: Political Crises After the Presidential Run-off
Talibanís Spring Offensive: Are the ANSF Prepared?
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
Bangladesh: Diplomatic Manoeuvres at the UNGA
Abeís Successful Visit to Dhaka: Two Political Challenges
Girl Summit Diplomacy and Bangladesh-UK Relations

Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticismís Sake?
Changing Global Balance of Power: Obamaís Response
Obama Administration: Re-engaging India
East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India in East Asia: Modiís Three Summit Meets
Modi's Visit to Japan: Gauging Inter-State Relations in Asia
North Korea: Seeking New Friends?

Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
China in Nepal: Increasing Connectivity Via Railways
India-Nepal Hydroelectricity Deal: Making it Count
Federalism and Nepal: Internal Differences
Prof Shankari Sundararaman
The ASEAN's Centrality in the Indo-Pacific Region
Myanmar's Political Transition: Challenges of the 2015 Election
South China Sea: Intransigence Over Troubled Waters

Sushant Sareen
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir
Pakistan: Why is Army against Nawaz Sharif?
Pakistan: Degraded Democracy
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Maritime Terrorism: Karachi as a Staging Point
Maritime Silk Road: Can India Leverage It?
BRICS: The Oceanic Connections

Middle Kingdom
DS Rajan
China in the Indian Ocean: Competing Priorities
China-Japan Friction: How can India Respond?
Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Musings on the Bomb

Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Naxalites and the Might of a Fragile Revolution
Six Thousand Plus Killed: The Naxal Ideology of Violence
Anti-Naxal Operations: Seeking Refuge in Symbolism
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security
Obamaís New Strategy towards the Islamic State: Implications for India
Modiís Tryst with Abe

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
War against the Islamic State: Political and Military Responses from the Region
The Islamic State: No Country for the Old World Order
India and the Conflict in Gaza
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile
Uranium and Nuclear Power: Three Indian Stories
A Strategic Review for India

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Strategic Estrangement: An Odd Bedfellow to Economic Engagement
The Islamic State Caliphate: A Mirage of Resurrection
A Covenant Sans Sword
Voice from America
Amit Gupta
Modiís US Visit: So Much Promise, Such Little Outcome
India and Australia: Beyond Curry, Cricket, and Commonwealth
And Then There is the Middle East: The Lack of an End-Game

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
Regional Economic Architecture: Is India Ready?

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Development Initiatives in Naxal Affected Areas

Anachronistic Naxalism: Need for Reinvention

Guarding against Police Brutality

Reforming the Prison Administration in India

100 per cent FIR: Jalpaiguri Shows the Way

Growing Naxalism: Need for a Unified Command

A New Gorkhaland State: How Justified is the Demand?

Strengthening Indo-Bangla Relations

Bird Flu: A Threat to Economic Security

Securing Indian Jails against Naxal Threats

Strengthening the Right to Information

Growing Naxal Threat in West Bengal

Policing an Anomic Society: Need for Phase-II Reforms

Rehabilitating the Socially Alienated under RSVY

Indo-Bangladesh Relations: Unleashing the Potential

Naxalism: The Enemy Within

Enforcing the Right to Information

Tackling Terrorism

Lessons from Singur

Debating the Nuclear Deal

Debating Police Reforms

Reforming the Police and Policing

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2014
 January  February  March  April  May  June  July  August  September  October  November
 2013  2012  2011  2010  2009  2008  2007  2006
 2005  2004  2003  2002  2001  2000  1999  1998

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map | IPCS Email
B 7/3 Lower Ground Floor, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi 110029, INDIA.
Tel: 91-11-4100 1900, 4165 2556, 4165 2557, 4165 2558, 4165 2559 Fax: (91-11) 41652560
© Copyright 2014, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
        Web Design by http://www.indiainternets.com