Given the deteriorating law and order situation and increase in crime across states, it is not surprising that the Supreme Court pulled up six states with the highest vacancies in police departments for failing to fill up these posts. While the court took cognisance of 4.42 lakh vacancies in police departments across the country, according to a Times of India report, it ordered either the home secretary or a representative joint secretary of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, to assist the bench “in preparing a definite roadmap to fill the vacancies”. But this is not the first time that the court is pulling up states for a shortage of cops.
In 2013, the apex court had issued notices to all states, but none had taken concrete steps. Moreover, in 2014, prime minister Narendra Modi had launched SMART police campaign, with improving capacity being a core objective.
But the states need to address many more issues if they are to make policing more effective.
A NITI Aayog paper, Building smart police in India, highlights the apathy towards police personnel in India. While police personnel have to be on duty for 11 hours a day, about 28% SHOs and 30% supervisory officers reported that their staff worked more than 14 hours a day. Moreover, of the total expenditure of `74,258 crore spent on police, only 1.46% was spent on training.
You might also want to see this:
Even the Centre’s allocation to police had fallen from Rs 2,000 crore in 2014 to Rs 595 crore in 2016-17. Support material for the force is limited, too, with 342 police stations having no access to even a telephone, 127 having no wireless facilities and 54 having neither of the two. There is a need to address these constraints even as states fill up vacancies. Even if states do come up with a plan for the latter, unless poor working conditions are addressed, policing efficiency is going to remain sub-par.