Police Complaints Authorities in India
Seventeen years ago, in its landmark judgement on police reforms- Prakash Singh & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors, (2006), the Supreme Court of India directed all States and Union Territories to set up Police Complaints Authorities (PCAs) at the state as well as the district level. Envisaged as independent and dedicated oversight bodies that would inquire into the functioning of the police, they also function as a forum for citizens to seek redress against police wrong doings.
CHRI has monitored and reported on the status of PCAs since inception. Our first national-level report on the PCAs was published in 2009 in which we pointed to gaps, both in the legal framework constituting them as well as in their functioning. Subsequently we published similar status reports in 2012 and 2020. Building on these efforts, in our latest report we examine the current status of PCAs at the state level with the aim of highlighting both their potential, as well as limitations in enforcing greater police accountability across the country. Information was collected for this analytical study through requests made under the Right to Information Act, 2005, in two phases- first in 2021 and later in 2023.
The findings from our study and recommendations are primarily intended to encourage policy and legal review of the PCAs’ role and relevance in the context of police accountability. Additionally, we hope the research will inspire deeper probing of the efficacy of these institutions, increase civil society and media engagement with them and mobilise public pressure on governments that are yet to set up such authorities.