Recently, there have been multiple Naxal attacks on CRPF personnel in Chhattisgarh. Parliamentary Committees have previously examined the working of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs). In this context, we examine issues related to functioning of these Forces and recommendations made to address them.
What is the role of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs)?
Under the Constitution, police and public order are state subjects. However, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) assists state governments by providing them support of the Central Armed Police Forces. The Ministry maintains seven CAPFs: (i) the Central Reserve Police Force, which assists in internal security and counterinsurgency, (ii) the Central Industrial Security Force, which protects vital installations (like airports) and public sector undertakings, (iii) the National Security Guards, which is a special counterterrorism force, and (iv) four border guarding forces, which are the Border Security Force, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Sashastra Seema Bal, and Assam Rifles.
What is the sanctioned strength of CAPFs personnel compared to the actual strength?
As of January 2017, the sanctioned strength of the seven CAPFs was 10,78,514 personnel. However, 15% of these posts (1,58,591 posts) were lying vacant. Data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development shows that vacancies in the CAPFs have remained over the years. Table 1 shows the level of vacancies in the seven CAPFs between 2012 and 2017. The level of vacancies is different for various police forces. For example, in 2017, the Sashastra Seema Bal had the highest level of vacancies at 57%. On the other hand, the Border Security Force had 2% vacancies. The Central Reserve Police Force, which account for 30% of the sanctioned strength of the seven CAPFs, had a vacancy of 8%.
How often are CAPFs deployed?
According to the Estimates Committee of Parliament, the number of deployment of CAPFs battalions has increased from 91 in 2012-13 to 119 in 2016-17. The Committee has noted that there has been heavy dependence by states on central police forces even for day-to-day law and order issues. This is likely to affect anti-insurgency and border-guarding operations of the Forces, as well as curtail their time for training. The continuous deployment also leaves less time for rest and recuperation.
The Estimates Committee recommended that states must develop their own systems, and augment their police forces by providing adequate training and equipment. It further recommended that the central government should supplement the efforts of state governments by providing financial assistance and other help for capacity building of their forces.
What is the financial allocation to CAPFs?
Under the Union Budget 2018-19, an allocation of Rs 62,741 crore was made to the seven CAPFs. Of this, 32% (Rs 20,268 crore) has been allocated to the Central Reserve Police Forces. The Estimates Committee has pointed out that most of the expenditure of the CAPFs was on salaries. According to the Committee, the financial performance in case of outlays allocated for capacity augmentation has been very poor. For example, under the Modernization Plan-II, Rs 11,009 crore was approved for the period 2012-17. However, the allocation during the period 2013-16 was Rs 251 crore and the reported expenditure was Rs 198 crore.
What are the working conditions for CAPFs personnel?
The Standing Committee on Home Affairs in the year 2017 had expressed concern over the working conditions of personnel of the border guarding forces (Border Security Force, Assam Rifles, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, and Sashastra Seema Bal). The Committee observed that they had to work 16-18 hours a day, with little time for rest or sleep. The personnel were also not satisfied with medical facilities that had been provided at border locations.
In addition, the Standing Committee observed that personnel of the CAPFs have not been treated at par with the Armed Forces, in terms of pay and allowances. The demand for Paramilitary Service Pay, similar to Military Service Pay, had not been agreed to by the Seventh Central Pay Commission. Further, the Committee observed that the hard-area allowance for personnel of the border guarding forces was much lower as compared to members of the Armed Forces, despite being posted in areas with difficult terrain and harsh weather.
What is the status of training facilities and infrastructure available to CAPFs?
The Estimates Committee has noted that all CAPFs have set up training institutions to meet their training requirements and impart professional skills on specialised topics. However, the Committee noted that there is an urgent need to upgrade the curriculum and infrastructure in these training institutes. It recommended that while purchasing the latest equipment, training needs should also be taken care of, and if required, should be included in the purchase agreement itself. Further, it recommended that the contents of training should be a mix of conventional matters as well as latest technologies such as IT, and cyber security.
According to the Estimates Committee, the MHA has been making efforts to provide modern arms, ammunition, and vehicles to the CAPFs. In this regard, the Modernization Plan-II, for the period 2012-17, was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The Plan aims to provide financial support to CAPFs for modernisation in areas of arms, clothing, and equipment.
However, the Committee observed that the procurement process under the Plan was cumbersome and time consuming. It recommended that the bottlenecks in procurement should be identified and corrective action should be taken. It further suggested that the MHA and CAPFs should hold negotiations with ordnance factories and manufacturers in the public or private sector, to ensure an uninterrupted supply of equipment and other infrastructure.
On June 13, 2022, the West Bengal government passed a Bill to replace the Governor with the Chief Minister, as the Chancellor of 31 state public universities (such as Calcutta University, Jadavpur University). As per the All India Survey on Higher Education (2019-20), state public universities provide higher education to almost 85% of all students enrolled in higher education in India. In this blog, we discuss the role of the Governor in state public universities.
What is the role of the Chancellor in public universities?
State public universities are established through laws passed by state legislatures. In most laws the Governor has been designated as the Chancellor of these universities. The Chancellor functions as the head of public universities, and appoints the Vice-Chancellor of the university. Further, the Chancellor can declare invalid, any university proceeding which is not as per existing laws. In some states (such as Bihar, Gujarat, and Jharkhand), the Chancellor has the power to conduct inspections in the university. The Chancellor also presides over the convocation of the university, and confirms proposals for conferring honorary degrees. This is different in Telangana, where the Chancellor is appointed by the state government.
The Chancellor presides over the meetings of various university bodies (such as the Court/Senate of the university). The Court/Senate decides on matters of general policy related to the development of the university, such as: (i) establishing new university departments, (ii) conferring and withdrawing degrees and titles, and (iii) instituting fellowships.
The West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 designates the Chief Minister of West Bengal as the Chancellor of the 31 public universities in the state. Further, the Chief Minister (instead of the Governor) will be the head of these universities, and preside over the meetings of university bodies (such as Court/Senate).
Does the Governor have discretion in his capacity as Chancellor?
In 1997, the Supreme Court held that the Governor was not bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers, while discharging duties of a separate statutory office (such as the Chancellor).
The Sarkaria and Puunchi Commission also dealt with the role of the Governor in educational institutions. Both Commissions concurred that while discharging statutory functions, the Governor is not legally bound by the aid and advice of the Council of Ministers. However, it may be advantageous for the Governor to consult the concerned Minister. The Sarkaria Commission recommended that state legislatures should avoid conferring statutory powers on the Governor, which were not envisaged by the Constitution. The Puunchi Commission observed that the role of Governor as the Chancellor may expose the office to controversies or public criticism. Hence, the role of the Governor should be restricted to constitutional provisions only. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the West Bengal University Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 also mentions this recommendation given by the Puunchi Commission.
Recently, some states have taken steps to reduce the oversight of the Governor in state public universities. In April 2022, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed two Bills, to transfer the power of appointing the Vice-Chancellor (in public universities) from the Governor, to the state government. As of June 8, 2022, these Bills have not received the Governor’s assent.
In 2021, Maharashtra amended the process to appoint the Vice Chancellor of state public universities. Prior to the amendment, a Search Committee forwarded a panel of at least five names to the Chancellor (who is the Governor). The Chancellor could then appoint one of the persons from the suggested panel as Vice-Chancellor, or ask for a fresh panel of names to be recommended. The 2021 amendment mandated the Search Committee to first forward the panel of names to the state government, which would recommend a panel of two names (from the original panel) to the Chancellor. The Chancellor must appoint one of the two names from the panel as Vice-Chancellor within thirty days. As per the amendment, the Chancellor has no option of asking for a fresh panel of names to be recommended.