10 January 2006 - The Home Minister, Shivraj Patil said in November 2005 at a passing out parade of the National Police Academy that the government is working towards a new Police Act. In September 2005, the Government of India had constituted the Police Act Drafting Committee in September 2005 to draft a new Police Act to replace the Police Act of 1861. The Home Ministry's website says that suggestions are invited by everyone for the new Police Act before 31 January 2006. The government's move to cannot but be appreciated as the existing Police Act was enacted in 1861! After 144 years it is time to change the laws governing police in the country.
The members of the Committee include Soli Sorabjee, former Attorney General, Government of India, N C Saxena IAS (Retd.), former Secretary to the Government of India, N R Madhav Menon, Director, National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, Prof. Ranbir Singh, Director, National Law Institute, Hyderabad, Ajay Raj Sharma, IPS (Retd.), Director General, Bureau of Police Research and Development and others. Joint Secretary (Police Modernisation) Harminder Raj Singh is the Convener of the Committee. U N B Rao, IPS, is the Secretary to the Committee.
However, before we begin drafting a new Police Act some pertinent questions need to be answered. Why do we need a new act? What is wrong with the old and existing one? What are the objectives of the new Police Act? What are the objectives of policing in India? What are the challenges facing police in the country and what limitations are being observed in the present police system? Many more such questions come to the mind and these need to be answered before a new Act is promulgated.
It needs to be remembered that The Police Act is a Central Act and ratified by the Parliament. It lays down the basic infrastructure of the police system in the country. The control and governance of policing remains a State subject and states are required to enact their own State Police Acts to give shape to the basic structure in accordance with their regional requirements. The objectives of policing, the powers of the police officers and their administration are all regulated by this Act. Hence, its consequences are far reaching. The state governments cannot violate the main provisions of the Police Act such as the organisational structure that places the IPS on top of the hierarchy and gives control to the DG cum IGP (Director General, Inspector General of Police) as the chief police administrator in every state.