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India: State and Other Police Services
Country Study > Chapter 10 > National Security > Law Enforcement > State and Other Police Services

STATE AND OTHER POLICE SERVICES


The Police Act of 1861 established the fundamental principles of organization for police forces in India, and, with minor modifications, continues in effect. Consequently, although state-level police forces are separate and may differ in terms of the quality of equipment and resources, their patterns of organization and operation are markedly similar.

An inspector general, answerable to the home secretary of the state, heads each state, union territory, or national capital territory police force. Under the inspector general are a number of police "ranges" composed of three to six districts, headed by deputy inspectors general. District police headquarters are commanded by superintendents. District superintendents have wide discretionary powers and are responsible for overseeing subordinate police stations as well as specialty elements, such as criminal investigation detachments, equipment storehouses and armories, and traffic police. Many large districts also have several assistant district superintendents.

Most preventive police work is carried out by constables assigned to police stations. Depending on the number of stations there, a district may be subdivided and, in some states, further divided into police "circles" to facilitate the supervision from district headquarters. Most of the major metropolitan areas such as New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras have separate municipal forces headed by commissioners. Police in the states and union territories are assisted by units of volunteer Home Guards, maintained under guidelines formulated by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In most states and territories, police forces are functionally divided into civil (unarmed) police and armed contingents. The former staff police stations, conduct investigations, answer routine complaints, perform traffic duties, and patrol the streets. They usually carry lathis -- bamboo staffs weighted or tipped with iron.

Contingents of armed police are divided into two groups, the district armed police and the Provincial Armed Constabulary. The district armed police are organized along the lines of an army infantry battalion. They are assigned to police stations and perform guard and escort duties. Those states that maintain distinct armed contingents employ them as a reserve strike force for emergencies. Such units are organized either as a mobile armed force under direct state control or in the case of district armed police (who are not as well equipped) as a force directed by district superintendents and generally used for riot-control duty.

The Provincial Armed Constabulary (Pradeshik) is an armed reserve maintained at key locations in some states and active only on orders from the deputy inspector general and higher-level authorities. Armed constabulary are not usually in contact with the public until they are assigned to VIP duty or assigned to maintain order during fairs, festivals, athletic events, elections, and natural disasters. They may also be sent to quell outbreaks of student or labor unrest, organized crime, and communal riots; to maintain key guard posts; and to participate in antiterrorist operations. Depending on the type of assignment, the Provincial Armed Constabulary may carry only lathis .

At all levels, the senior police officers answer to the police chain of command and respond to the general direction and control of designated civilian officials. In the municipal force, the chain of command runs directly to the state home secretary rather than to the district superintendent or district officials.

Working conditions and pay are poor, especially in the lower echelons of the police forces. Recruits receive only around Rs1,900 per month (about US$64). Opportunities for promotion are limited because of the system of horizontal entry into higher grades. Allegations of bribery, attributable to the low pay and poor working conditions, have been widespread.

Since the late 1980s, women have entered in larger numbers into the higher echelons of the Indian police, mostly through the Indian Police Service system. Women police officers were first used in 1972, and a number of women hold key positions in various state police organizations. However, their absolute numbers, regardless of rank, are small. Uniformed and undercover women police officers have been deployed in New Delhi as the Anti-Eve Teasing Squad, which combats sexual harassment against women ("Eves"). Several women-only police stations have also been established in Tamil Nadu to handle sex crimes against women.

Police uniforms vary widely according to grade, region, and kind of duty performed. Among the armed police, uniforms tend to resemble army dress rather than conventional police uniforms. The khaki uniforms of the Indian Police Service officers are similar in all states, but headgear varies widely, especially among metropolitan areas.

Data as of September 1995




Last Updated: September 1995


Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for India was first published in 1995. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on Factba.se.

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