In India, police and law and order come under the purview of state governments. Accordingly, each state has its own police force for maintaining law and order and investigating crimes. However, due to financial and other constraints, states have critical gaps in their policing infrastructure.2 Figure 1 shows the expenditure by states on police, as a percentage of their total budget. In 2015-16, Manipur spent the highest proportion of its state budget on police, followed by Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
Figure 1: Police Expenditure as a proportion of total state budget
The Ministry of Home Affairs has been supplementing resources of states under the Modernisation of Police Forces (MPF) scheme. The Union Cabinet last week approved the implementation of an umbrella scheme of MPF and has allocated funding of Rs 25,060 crore for the 2017-18 to 2019-20 period. In light of this decision, we present the key features of the scheme and examine other issues related to the police forces.
Modernisation of Police Forces scheme
The MPF scheme was initiated in 1969-70 and has undergone several revisions over the years.2 It was allocated Rs 11,946 crore for the period between 2012-13 to 2016-17, which has now been doubled after last week’s Cabinet approval. Funds from the MPF scheme are typically used for improving police infrastructure through construction of police stations and provision of modern weaponry, surveillance and communication equipment. Upgradation of training infrastructure, police housing and computerisation are also important objectives funded through the scheme.
Following the recommendations of the Fourteenth Finance Commission, to increase the share of central taxes to states, it was decided that the MPF scheme would be delinked from central funding from 2015-16 onwards. States were expected to finance the scheme using their own resources. However, of the recent allocation made by the Cabinet, Rs 18,636 crore will come from the central government and Rs 6,424 crore will come from the states.3 This implies that the centre will fund almost 75% of the scheme.
Underutilisation of Funds
Data from the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) shows that funds have not been fully utilised under the MPF scheme. In the year 2015-16, out of a total grant of Rs 9,203 crore that was made available for modernisation, states utilised only Rs 1330 crore (14%).
Figure 2 shows the trend in underutilisation of modernisation funds from 2009-10 to 2015-16. Over this period, there has been a consistent underutilisation of funds by states. On average, states spent 55% of the funds allocated to them, with the highest being 86% utilisation in 2013-14.
Figure 2: Utilisation of funds for modernisation by states (%)
Issues related to police forces
While the MPF scheme seeks to improve police infrastructure, there are a number of structural issues that have been raised by experts over the years related to police forces. We discuss a few of these below.
(i) Overburdened police force
Apart from the core function of maintaining law and order, police personnel carry out various other functions such as traffic management, disaster rescue and removal of encroachments. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) has noted that these extra obligations lead to overburdening of the police force. It recommended that these functions should be carried out by other government departments or private agencies. Note that as of January 2016, 24 per cent of sanctioned police posts in India were vacant.6 This indicates that police personnel may be overburdened, which may have negative consequences on their efficiency and performance.
(ii) Poor quality of investigation
In 2015, the conviction rate for crimes recorded under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 was only 47%. The Law Commission (2012) observed that one of the reasons for low conviction rates in India is poor quality of investigation by police. The police lack training and expertise required to conduct professional investigations. They also have insufficient legal knowledge and inadequate forensic and cyber infrastructure. In light of these deficiencies, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) recommended that states should have specialised investigation units within the police force for better investigation of crimes.7
(iii) Police accountability
In India, control over the police force vests with the political executive. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2007) noted that this has to led to abuse of police personnel and interference with their decision-making authority.7 To allow the police operational autonomy while maintaining accountability, the Supreme Court issued guidelines to the central government and state governments (and Union Territories) in the year 2006.
The guidelines provided for the establishment of three institutions: (i) a State Security Commission, (ii) a Police Establishment Board, and (iii) a Police Complaints Authority.11 The Supreme Court also stated that the state Director General of Police (DGP) should be selected from three senior-most officers of the state empanelled by the Union Public Service Commission and must have a minimum two-year tenure.
In addition, the court recommended that officers in key positions in the field (Inspector General in charge of Range, Station House Officer) must be given a two-year tenure. Currently, DGPs and senior officers are selected by the political executive of the state and are not guaranteed security of tenure. In order to improve the quality of investigation, the Court recommended that investigating police must be separated from law and order police.11
These guidelines and recommendations of other expert bodies were used to create the draft Model Police Bill, 2015 by BPR&D, which states have been encouraged to adopt. While states have partially implemented some of these guidelines, no state has adhered to them in full. In most states, the three institutions which the Supreme Court has directed states to create have not been given the authority they need to ensure accountability and insulate the police force from political misuse.12
Entry 1 and 2, List II, Schedule 7, Constitution of India, 1950.
 Modernisation of Police Force Scheme Book, Ministry of Home Affairs, 2010 http://mha.nic.in/sites/upload_files/mha/files/Scheme-MPF-11Nov.pdf.
 “Cabinet approves umbrella scheme of Modernisation of Police Forces”, Press Information Bureau, 27th September 2017.
 Annual Report, Ministry of Home Affairs, 2015-16, http://mha.nic.in/sites/upload_files/mha/files/AR(E)1516.pdf.
 “Major Programmes Under Central Assistance for State Plans”, Union Budget, 2015-16 http://indiabudget.nic.in/budget2015-2016/ub2015-16/bag/bag8.pdf.
 “Data on Police Organisations”, Bureau of Police Research and Development, 2016, http://bprd.nic.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/file/201701090303068737739DATABOOK2016FINALSMALL09-01-2017.pdf.
 “Public Order”, Second Administrative Reforms Commission, 2007, http://arc.gov.in/5th%20REPORT.pdf.
 “Report No. 239: Expeditious Investigation and Trial of Criminal Cases Against Influential Public Personalities”, Law Commission of India, March 2012, http://lawcommissionofindia.nic.in/reports/report239.pdf.
 “Crime in India”, National Crime Records Bureau, 2006-15 http://ncrb.nic.in/StatPublications/CII/CII2015/FILES/Compendium-15.11.16.pdf.
 Section 3, Police Act, 1861.
 Prakash Singh vs Union of India, Supreme Court, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 310 of 1996, November 8, 2010.
 “Building Smart Police in India: Background into the needed Police Force Reforms”, Niti Aayog, 2016, http://niti.gov.in/writereaddata/files/document_publication/Strengthening-Police-Force.pdf.
In the last few years, several states have enacted laws to curb cheating in examinations, especially those for recruitment in public service commissions. According to news reports, incidents of cheating and paper leaks have occurred on several occasions in Uttarakhand, including during the panchayat development officer exams in 2016, and the Uttarakhand Subordinate Services Selection Commission exams in 2021. The Uttarakhand Public Service Commission papers were also leaked in January 2023. The most recent cheating incidents led to protests and unrest in Uttarakhand. Following this, on February 11, 2023, the state promulgated an Ordinance to bar and penalise the use of unfair means in public examinations. The Uttarakhand Assembly passed the Bill replacing the Ordinance in March 2023. There have been multiple reports of candidates being arrested and debarred for cheating in public examinations for posts such as forest guard and secretariat guard after the ordinance’s introduction. Similar instances of cheating have also been noted in other states. As per news reports, since 2015, Gujarat has not been able to hold a single recruitment exam without reported paper leaks. In February 2023, the Gujarat Assembly also passed a law to penalise cheating in public examinations. Other states such as Rajasthan (Act passed in 2022), Uttar Pradesh (Act passed in 1998) and Andhra Pradesh (Act passed in 1997) also have similar laws. In this blog, we compare anti-cheating laws across some states (see Table 1), and discuss some issues to consider.
Typical provisions of anti-cheating laws
Anti-cheating laws across states generally contain provisions that penalise the use of unfair means by examinees and other groups in public examinations such as those conducted by state public sector commission examinations and higher secondary education boards. Broadly, unfair means is defined to include the use of unauthorised help and the unauthorised use of written material by candidates. These laws also prohibit individuals responsible for conducting examinations from disclosing any information they acquire in this role. The more recent laws, such as the Gujarat, Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan ones, also include the impersonation of candidates and the leaking of exam papers within the definition of unfair means. Uttarakhand, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh prohibit the use of electronic aids. Maximum prison sentences for using such unfair means range from three months in Uttar Pradesh, to seven years in Andhra Pradesh.
Issues to consider
The Gujarat and Uttarakhand anti-cheating Acts have relatively stringent provisions for cheating. The Uttarakhand Act has a fixed 3-year prison sentence for examinees caught cheating or using unfair means (for the first offence). Since the Act does not distinguish between the different types of unfair means used, an examinee could serve a sentence disproportionate to the offence committed. In most other states, the maximum imprisonment term for such offences is three years. Andhra Pradesh has a minimum imprisonment term of three years. However, all these states allow for a range with respect to the penalty, that is, the judge can decide on the imprisonment term (within the specified limits) depending on the manner of cheating and the implications of such cheating. Table 1 below compares the penalties for certain offences across eight states.
The Uttarakhand Act has a provision that debars the examinee from state competitive examinations for two to five years upon the filing of the chargesheet, rather than upon conviction. Thus, an examinee could be deprived of giving the examination even if they were innocent but being prosecuted under the law. This could compromise the presumption of innocence for accused candidates. The Gujarat and Rajasthan laws also debar candidates from sitting in specified examinations for two years, but only upon conviction.
These laws also vary in scope across states. In Uttarakhand and Rajasthan, the laws only apply to competitive examinations for recruitment in a state department (such as a Public Commission). In the other six states examined, these laws also apply to examinations held by educational institutions for granting educational qualifications such as diplomas and degrees. For example, in Gujarat, exams conducted by the Gujarat Secondary and Higher Secondary Education Board are also covered under the Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2023. The question is whether it is appropriate to have similar punishments for exams in educational institutions and exams for recruitment in government jobs, given the difference in stakes between them.
Sources: The Rajasthan Public Examination (Measures for Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2022; the Uttar Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 1998; the Chhattisgarh Public Examinations (Prevention of Unfair Means) Act, 2008; the Orissa Conduct of Examinations Act, 1988; the Andhra Pradesh Public Examinations (Prevention of Malpractices and Unfair means) Act, 1997; the Jharkhand Conduct of Examinations Act, 2001, the Uttarakhand Competitive Examination (Measures for Prevention and Prevention of Unfair Means in Recruitment) Act, 2023, the Gujarat Public Examination (Prevention of Unfair Methods) Act, 2023; PRS.