Fifteen years after the Supreme Court had issued directions for police reforms, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the State Governments to set up Police Complaints Authorities as per the judgment in Prakash Singh vs. Union of India, 2006.
The NHRC’s core advisory group on criminal justice system reforms has said there is an “immediate need to set up police complaints authorities at the State/UT and district level” as per the Supreme Court’s directives, according to the minutes of its meeting published on Tuesday. The core group, which met on August 18, recommended to the MHA and the States that the status of compliance should be displayed on the websites of the Ministry and the State Home Departments.
The NHRC group also said the MHA and the Law Ministry should consider implementing the recommendations of the 113th report of the Law Commission to add Section 114 B to the Indian Evidence Act. This would ensure that in case a person sustains injuries in police custody, it is presumed that the injuries were inflicted by the police and the burden of proof to explain the injury lies on the authority concerned.
The core group also recommended making the legal framework technology-friendly to speed up the criminal justice system. “Presently the legal framework is not suitable for adoption of technology in the criminal justice system,” the minutes said.
Involvement of trained social workers
The group also recommended that the Supreme Court’s December 2020 order to instal CCTV cameras with night vision in all police stations should be “implemented immediately” to ensure accountability. Among the recommendations were the involvement of trained social workers and law students with police stations as part of community policing and incorporating community policing in police manuals, laws and advisories.
According to data provided by the Home Ministry to the Lok Sabha in March, 16 States and UTs had implemented police complaints boards.