Police Act

The Police Act, 1861

The objective of the Police Act, 1861 is to re-organize the police and to make it a more efficient instrument for the prevention and detection of crime. It says every State Government establishes its own police force which is formally enrolled. The force consists of such a number of officers and men and is constituted in such manner as the State Government may decide from time to time. The overall administration of the police in the entire State is vested in the Director-General of Police.

The administration of police in every district vests in the District Superintendent of Police under the general control and direction of the District Magistrate who is usually the Collector of the district.

Every police officer appointed to the police force other than the Inspector-General of Police (or Deputy or Assistant Inspector General of Police) and the District Superintendent of Police (or Assistant District Superintendent of Police) receives a certificate in the prescribed form by virtue of which he is vested with the powers, functions, and privileges of a police officer. The certificate shall cease to be effective and shall be returned forthwith when the police officer ceases to be a police officer.

Also Read: File a Complaint without Visiting the Police Station

Other Police Act

The Police Act, 1888 enables the Central Government to create a special police district embracing parts of two or more States and to extend to every part of such district the powers and jurisdiction of a police force belong- ing to a State specified by the Central Government. This, of course, can be done only with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned.

The Police Act, 1949 creates a police force for the Union Territories, following the pattern of the Police Act, 1861

The reorganization of police has been on the agenda of the State Governments and Central Government for quite some time in fact many commissions/committees have gone into this question and made many recommendations. Despite the lapse of several years, no action was taken by the Central Government or the State Governments.

The Supreme Court was therefore approached by way of public interest litigation for compelling the government to act. Thus in Prakash Singh v. Union of India, the Supreme Court issued some guidelines as to the police set-up and directed the States and the Centre to reorganize their police set-up as envisaged in its judgment. The several States are however yet to reorganize the police accordingly

The Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 has played an important leading role in police operations in recent years. The Act provides for the constitution of a special force in Delhi for the investigation of certain specified offences in the Union Territories and also provides for the extension of the operation of this police force to other parts of India with the concurrence of the State Governments concerned. The image of Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI) impartiality and independence has often made the public to demand investigation by it in preference to investigation by State police. And bypassing the inherent restrictions in Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Act, the judiciary used to order investigation by the CBI.5 This has been ruled to be valid by the Supreme Court.

Police under the Crpc

The CrPC confers specific powers, for example, power to make arrest, search, etc. on the members of the police force who are enrolled as police officers. Wider powers have been given to police officers who are in charge of police stations. Such station-house officers are also required to discharge onerous duties in relation to detection, investigation and prevention of offences.

 The term “police station” means “any post or place declared generally or specially by the State Government, to be a police station, and includes any local area specified by the State Government in this behalf’, The ordinary meaning of the words “officer in charge of a police station” has been purposely broadened by clause (o) of Section 2, Crpc which says,

“officer in charge of a police station” includes, when the officer in charge Definitions of the police station is absent from the station-house or unable from illness or other cause to perform his duties, the police officer present at the station- house who is next in rank to such officer and is above the rank of constable or, when the State Government so directs, any other police officer so present.

This only shows the importance of the duties of the station-house officer and the concern of the Code for their prompt discharge

Police officers above the rank of a station-house officer are invested with the powers of the station-house officer but over larger local limits

Section 36 of the Crpc Code says:

 “Police Officers superior in rank to an officer in charge of a police station Powers of superior may exercise the same powers, throughout the local area to which they are officers of police appointed, as may be exercised by such officer within the limits of his station”

This again shows the key role given by the Code to police stations in the scheme of investigation and prevention of crime. The use of the word “rank” in Section 36 comprehends the hierarchy of police officers. If the Inspector-General, Vigilance, is an officer superior in rank to an officer in charge of a police station, he could in view of Section 3 6 exercise the powers of an officer in charge of a police station throughout the local area to which he has been appointed {in this case the entire Bihar State)

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