The history of criminal justice system reform efforts especially vis-à-vis police, the most important component of the system, has been replete with administrative efforts in both India and Pakistan. In case of Pakistan, as many as 21 commissions/committees/initiatives relating to police reforms were recorded till the year 2000. The implementation of these reforms is, however, a challenge in both the countries. The instant write-up will adumbrate on how the Indian Supreme Court implemented some reform components relating to police; the attempt may inform the debate on implementation of police reforms in Pakistan.
Implementing Police Reforms
The Supreme Court of India (hereinafter SCI) decided two cases that defined its efforts in implementing police reforms in the country. The first is the case of Prakash Singh that was decided in 2006; while the second is of Dr. Senkumar that was decided in 2017. A brief introduction of the two judgements is as under:
A. Prakash Singh Case (2006)
As recorded in the judgement, the Prakash Singh Case was filed in 1996 by retired police officers. The case was heard by a three-member bench of the SCI headed by the then Chief Justice Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal. Justice Sabharwal noted in the judgement the history of police reforms. He particularly noted that eight reports were submitted by the National Police Commission (NPC), which was constituted by the Government of India on 15th November 1977. The NPC produced as many as eight reports over a period of four years (i.e. till 1981). It also prepared a model Police Act for India. The reports gathered dust till 1996 when some retired police officers filed a petition in the SCI. The prayer of the petitioners was summarized in the judgement in the following words:
“The petitioners seek that Union of India be directed to redefine the role and functions of the police and frame a new Police Act on the lines of the model Act drafted by the National Police Commission in order to ensure that the police [are] made accountable essentially and primarily to the law of the land and the people. Directions are also sought against the Union of India and State Governments to constitute various Commissions and Boards laying down the policies and ensuring that police perform their duties and functions free from any pressure and also for separation of investigation work from that of law and order.”
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