Legal Accountability of the Police in India

This report argues for the introduction of a judicial remedy in the form of a cause of action against police officers in their individual capacity for violations of constitutional rights. This recommendation was made in light of the government’s failure to implement the reforms mandated by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India (2006) 8 SCC 1


Given the reported failure of the state and central government to fully implement the directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh v. Union of India2 , in this paper we explore the option of whether a judicial remedy in the form of a cause of action against police officers in their individual capacity for violations of constitutional rights might enhance oversight conducted by the Police Complaint Authorities. In approaching this question, we discuss three broad mechanisms of external police accountability- First, the establishment of independent police oversight boards in accordance with Prakash Singh v. Union of India3 judgment of Supreme Court of India. Second, it will deal with a judicial remedy in the form of cause of action against police officers for violation of constitutional rights as a means of enhancing police accountability. It will explore the judicially enforceable forms of accountability that flow from existing criminal laws, public laws and private laws. Third, the National and State Human Rights Commission (NHRC/SHRC) as a remedy for police misconduct are also briefly discussed in the document. The memorandum will assess whether a shift towards a mechanism of independent police oversight boards is to be preferred to the court based remedy under criminal, private or public law. Before we begin with this discussion, it may be useful to make a brief note of the quasi-federal nature of the Indian police organisation and some of the developments on police reforms initiated in the recent years.

Cite:

Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy, 'Legal Accountability of the Police in India' (04 Jun 2014) <https://clpr.org.in/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Police-Accountability-CLPR.pdf> accessed on 15 Sep 2019