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The National Police Commission (NPC)

The Government of India appointed the NPC on November 15, 1977. The Commission consisted of Mr. Dharam Vira (retired Governor) as Chairman, Mr. N.K. Reddy (retired Judge, Madras High Court), Mr. K.F. Rustamjee (ex Director General of the Border Security Force and Special Secretary, Home Ministry), Mr. N.S. Saxena (ex Director General of the CRPF and Member UPSC), Mr. M.S Gore (Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay) as members, and Mr C.V Narasimhan (Director of the Central Bureau of Investigation) as Member Secretary.

Though the Commission was set up on November 15, 1977, it started functioning effectively only in April 1978. In fact, its first meeting was held on December 22, 1978.

The Commission was asked to make a comprehensive review at the national level of the police system, in the context of the far-reaching changes that had taken place in the country after the enactment of the Indian Police Act 1861, the report of the last Police Commission of 1902, and particularly those which had taken place since Independence. The NPC had fairly wide and comprehensive terms of reference, involving a fresh examination of the role and performance of the police, both as a law enforcement agency and as an institution to protect the rights of the citizens enshrined in the Constitution. One of its most important terms of reference required it to recommend measures and institutional arrangements to "prevent misuse of powers by the police" and "misuse of police by administrative or executive instructions, political or other pressure, or oral orders of any type, which are contrary to law".

The NPC produced eight reports between February 1979 and May 1981. The Commission had finished the first two reports, when the Government changed at the Centre. With Indira Gandhi's return to power in January 1980, the very existence of the National Police Commission came under threat. Firstly, the Commission had been appointed by her opponents- the Janata Party. Secondly, the Commission had committed the unpardonable error of quoting from the Shah Commission's report, criticising the way the police was used during her regime. Thirdly, Mr. C.V. Narasimhan, who was the Director of the CBI when the CBI arrested Mrs. Gandhi during the Janata regime, headed the Commission's secretariat. Mr. Narasimhan was relieved of his duties on April 19, 1980 and nobody was appointed in his place. The Commission functioned without a regular Member-Secretary, until it closed in May 1981.

The first report came out in February 1979 and was made public by the Janata Government. The remaining seven reports (the 2nd to the 8th) were released to the public only in March 1983. When the reports were forwarded to the state governments through the Government of India's letter no. 11013/11/83-NPC Cell dated March 31, 1983, they were specifically informed that "at some places in the 2nd Report (paras 15.24, 15.35 and 15.55) the Commission has relied on the observations and findings of the Shah Commission to arrive at certain conclusions. Government strongly repudiate all such conclusions. At several other places (such as paras 15.2, 15.4, 15.6, 15.7, 15.18, 15.19 and 15.26 of the 2nd Report; para 22.3 of the 3rd Report; para 32.7 of the 4th Report; para 44.9 of the 6th Report; paras 59.10, 59.19 and 59.25 of the 7th Report and para 61.8 of the 8th Report), the Commission has been unduly critical of the political system or of the functioning of the police force in general. Such general criticism is hardly in keeping with an objective and rational approach to problems and reveals a biased attitude. Government are of the view that no note should be taken of such observations". The message was loud and clear, and after such advice, it is not surprising that the state governments conveniently put the major recommendations of the NPC in the cold storage.

The most important recommendations of the NPC centred around the problem of insulating the police from illegitimate political and bureaucratic interference. These recommendations perturbed the entrenched elite at the prospect of losing control over an organisation that they had been misusing for so long.

For a summary of the NPC's recommendations, click below:

NPC's Reccommendations

 

 
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