Police in India – legislative framework and organisation

Police is the civil force of the government, responsible for prevention and detection of crime, and the maintenance of law and order at ground level.

Legislative framework for policing

Police, prisons, and public order are subjects enumerated in the state list, while Criminal law and Criminal procedure are subjects enumerated in the concurrent list of the seventh schedule.

An early framework to police law in India was provided by the Police Act of 1861, enacted in the wake of the 1857 Independence Struggle. The act instituted a police system that was highly authoritarian, and was designed to be absolutely subservient to the executive branch of the government. Post independence, each state in India has enacted its own legislation governing police, but these largely follow the model created by the Police Act of 1861. Thus, police in India is not an independent service, and functions on the guidance and instruction of the political executive.

Police Forces

Each state has its own police force. Police of Union Territories are directly under the central government. At the central level, some paramilitary agencies function under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Central police forces can assist a state’s police force, but only if so requested by the state government. This provision was briefly tempered during the national emergency of 1975, when the requirement of concurrence of the state government was done away with.

State police – organisation

  • Controlling authority: Department of Home of the State Government
  • Agency Executive/ Administrative head – Home Secretary – an IAS officer.
  • Hierarchy
    • Director General of Police (DGP)
      • An IPS officer.
      • Head of the State Police Service.
      • Called as Commissioner of Police in a state with metropolitan police for a large city.
    • Inspector General of Police (IGP)
      • At range level (consisting of 3-5 districts).
    • Superintendents of Police (SP)
      • At district level.
      • Has wide discretionary powers.

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