The Good Cop

By Bibek Debroy

“The station-house officer will sometimes bush up a case on payment of his terms; he will receive presents from parties and their witnesses… Suspects and innocent persons are bullied and threatened into giving information they are supposed to possess. The police officer, owing to want of detective ability or to indolence, directs his efforts to procure confessions by improper inducement, by threats and by moral pressure.” No, this is not a quote from yet another committee on police reforms — from a belated follow-up to the Supreme Court’s Prakash Singh judgment of 2006. The quote is from the report of the 1902-03 Indian Police Commission, which was also not the first of its kind. There were committees in states as well as the 1860 Police Commission that led to the Police Act of 1861. Since then, down the years, there have been several Committees/Commissions — some directly on the police (the National Police Commission and the Ribeiro and Padmanabhaiah committees), others alluding to police reforms indirectly (the Malimath Committee and the Second Administrative Reforms Commission). Obviously, matters weren’t satisfactory. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have had the Supreme Court’s 2006 judgment.

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