Police, Civil Service and Military are a part of coercive apparatus of any state. Modern state
is different from the medieval state in terms of making laws which can control the activities
of these forces. A democratic state is a constitutional state. Constitutional laws guide the
actions of each organ. To keep a check on the misuse of... power by any organ of the state,
there is a balance of powers. Executive, judiciary and legislature are three organs of the state
which balance each other to bring unity of purpose. If any organ goes outside the laws of the
state, it can come under the scrutiny of law by another organ. It regulates the relationship
between each organ and citizen. If a citizen feels that he or she is discriminated by any organ
of the state, he can resort to judicial review of the state action. Check and counter check help
to keep the functioning of the state within the rule of game. A democratic state has to respect
the human rights of each citizen and social class and groups. The state has enough space for
the movement of each social group. Each group is allowed to protest against the state actions
in a peaceful manner. Laws of the state are supposed to protect the rights of a citizen and
social group. Democratic state is a limited state vis a vis a citizen and social group. Each social
group, be it dominant or subaltern, is protected by the state. A state is basically a limited state
except in an unusual situation in a nation’s life, such as emergency because of war or internal
trouble. The state has laws to restrict the rights of a citizen. In such circumstances the police,
civil servants and military have immense powers. These three forces are part of an Administrative
State. Moreover they are a permanent part of the executive whereas the political executive
is a temporary one. Though they are the subject of control by the political executive, the action
of each force can come under scrutiny by the judiciary. In this unit, the relation of each of these
forces with the judiciary and legislature, is being analysed.
Police is a part of the ancient Indian history. The Mauryan empire did have a police force.
During the Moghul period, the Kotwali system monitored the activities of citizens. The British
rule created a modern policy by creating a Police Act of 1861. The colonial state allowed the
operation of police in a legal manner. They could investigate the criminal case as per the law
of the time. The colonial state created a legal framework which limited the police action.
Though they served the interests of the colonial masters, at the same time, the laws of the state
gave them autonomy. Even the British citizens came under their control to some extent if they
committed crimes which were listed by the Police Act. It is wrong to presume that the Police
Act served the interests of colonial masters only. This Act is serving the needs of the Post
has been kept intact. Though the National Police Commission (NPC) has suggested for a new
police Act, the democratic government has not felt the necessity of scrapping the old Act.
Reasons Behind the Expansion of Police
The activities of police have got expanded with the changes introduced by the modern society
. The Indian society is no more an agricultural society though majority of people live India
in the villages. But in terms of contribution to the national income, the share of agriculture has
declined drastically. The contributions of industry and service sector have increased. This
transition to an industrial and modern society has brought certain changes in the society. A
transitional society has some peculiar problems which need to be tackled by the police. The
Indian society is getting urbanised at a faster rate which creates some problems for the police.
The problems of the industrial and urban society are different in nature from the rural society.
The rural society has changed because of the social changes introduced by the green revolution
and political democracy. The caste hierarchy has undergone a radical change. Land reforms
such as the abolition of Zamindari system has changed the face of the rural society by
removing the hereditary social leaders. It has led to a sharp competition among various caste
groups for sharing the social power. The changing balance of social forces in rural society gets
reflected in politics.
The democratic politics has brought some changes in the society. Electoral system has
strengthened the democratic character of the society. This has led to sharp competition for
political power among the social groups and classes of people. The entry of political parties
into rural politics has strengthened the competition after leading to violence. Police intervention
is sought in such a political situation, for tackling the criminal elements and gangsterism.
Challenges Before the Police Force
1) violent agitations by linguistic groups to redraw the political map of
, strengthening India
2) the tribal groups of the
Central India and North Eastern India have organised themselves
on ethnic lines.
3) movement for land distribution very often leads to violence between the rich and the poor
4) agitations organised by the political parties to protest the displacement of people due to
major environmental projects by the government or by a private party.
5) terrorism and militant movements.
6) growth of religious fundamentalism leading to violent conflicts.
7) caste clashes between the upper and the lower castes on such issues as access to
common property or self respect movement.
8) violent conflicts between the rural rich and landless labour, on the issues of wages.
9) violent conflicts between the upper caste and lower caste in towns on the question of
reservation of jobs on caste lines.
10) while social legislations are made by the state, the responsibility to execute those laws
is given to the police. The tackling of crimes against children and women are a major
responsibility of the present police.
11) introduction of IT has brought in cyber crimes which need to be tackled by the police.
12) the growth of underworld in metropolis has created problems for the police.
The Police Response
India is a federal state and the powers are distributed between the Centre and the States. The
police administration comes under the purview of the state government. The problems affecting
the state need special attention of the police administration. Very often, unable to handle such
a situation, they depend on the Central government for help to maintain the public order. The
Central government has Central Reserve Police Force and Border Security Force to aid the
state governments. These central forces have specific duties but at the same time, they aid the
state governments in the case of law and order situation. There are three groups of states that
need special central help: (i) states like Jammu & Kashmir which have terrorist problems, need
the assistance of the central police force. (ii) The other group of states is infested with
Naxalism which also demand the central help for tackling the situation. (iii) The third group
of states where a large-scale communal problem can cause an alarming situation necessitating
the intervention of central forces. The central government has created a Rapid Action Force
(RAF) within the Central Reserve Police Force. The RAF is an emergency force that is
normally airlifted to trouble spots so that quick action can be initiated to contain an explosive
situation. Often the central police help in maintaining order during the elections times to the
State Assemblies and Parliament. The Election Commission has a close interaction with the
Home Ministry to call for the central forces to conduct free and fair elections. As there are
some areas which are declared as disturbed, the state police try to handle the situation with
the cooperation of the central forces. In a competitive political system, there is a large number
of political leaders whose life is threatened by the terrorists and need protection by the state.
The State has created a Special Security Force drawing from both BSF and CRPF to take
care of the VIP movement.
From 1860 onwards, the Police Commission has been keeping the records on the reported
crimes. In 1953, the central government introduced an annual publication Crime in India, with
comprehensive statistics on all crime reported to the police in all States and Union Territories.
Tackling crime in India is now, the responsibility of the National Crime Records Bureau of the
central government. The study assesses crime rate i.e., offences per 100,000 people. The post
independent state has recorded more crimes against women; infact rapes have doubled between
1985-1995. There is a manifold increase in the number of crimes.
The Police Role in Government
The use of police in India has been frequent and extensive. Very often their non partisan
behaviour is questioned. The police is used by a political party or a coalition of parties against
their political opponents. Often the police is accused of showing their communal bias while
controlling the riot. Majority of them allegedly have caste and class bias and this has led to
a negative public perception of the police administration. Various surveys conducted by some
independent organisations found that the public do not consider the police as a friendly organ
of the state. This perception affects the investigation of crimes. Criticism of the police by the
executive, legislature and citizens is very common.
Relations with the Executive
During the emergency it has been observed by the Shah Commission that the executive, for
its political ends, has used the police. This has led to the constituting of a National Police
Commission under the chairmanship of Dharma Vira. The Commission has suggested measures
seeking an autonomous status of the police. Two recommendations made in this connection
- a fixed tenure of four years for the police chief and the constitution of a state security
commission headed by the state minister in charge of the police also remain to be implemented.
The political executive has to formulate public policy regarding the law and order situation.
The transfer of the police officials must be decided by the state security council. This helps
in reducing the day-to-day interference in the police administration and checking unfair practices
at the time of transfer and posting. A level of transparency should be maintained in the above
Relations with the Legislature
The legislature is the supreme authority in a democratic system. It is endowed with certain
privileges and facilities which need to be respected by the police force, without which the
legislative committee of privileges can question and punish the latter. The police need to show
due respect and honour to the MLAs and MPs during their visits to the Police Stations. The
police administration’s perception of undue demands from the legislative members, affects their
reputation in the eyes of public. The countrywide police agitation in 1979 was triggered by
a trivial altercation between a Haryana traffic policeman and a legislator. The relationship
between the police and MLAs and MPs is extremely delicate, calling for great restraint on
Relations with the Judiciary
The police has a tenuous relation with the judiciary. The police feels that the courts lack faith
in them. For example, the Indian Evidence Act lays down that no confession made to a police
officer shall be admissible in evidence. This is a major source of discontent for police officers
at all levels. There are many restrictions imposed by the judiciary on the police. No person
can be arrested without a warrant and shall be held in police custody for longer than twenty
four hours: he has to be produced before the concerned magistrate within this stipulated time.
The Supreme Court and High Courts have imposed many restrictions on the power of the
arrest vested in police officers. In Joginder Singh v. State of UP (1994), the Supreme Court
stated that an arrest should be made merely because it was lawful to do so. The officer
concerned should actually be able to justify such action. The judiciary is very much sensitive
to the complaints of the human rights violations by the police. The formation of National
Human Rights Commission headed by a former Chief Justice of India is in the process of
making the police more sensitive to the human rights violations. The NHRC takes a very
proactive position with regard to human rights violation by the police.
Relations with the Public
Democracy demands that the police needs to respect the citizens. They have to be helpful to
them whenever they come to the police station for filing any complaint. This is the age of
citizen friendly police administration. But there are many complaints against the police that an
ordinary citizen may not be able to file FIR without offering a bribe to the police officer at
the Police Station. The investigating officers use the force in dealing with crime suspects. The
public often view the police with suspicion. To quote David Bayley, “the survey results
demonstrate forcefully what many close observers of police-public relations in India have long
thought namely that the Indian public is deeply suspicious of the activities of the police. A
considerable proportion except the police to be rude, brutal, corrupt, sometimes in collusion
with criminals and very frequetly dealing unevenly with their clients.” (The Police and Political
Development in India, p. 203) This opinion is supported by the NPC report that the Commission
expressed its anxiety over the poor state of police- public relations. (Vol. 5, p. 48) The police
administration needs to be citizen friendly for bringing back its credibility before the public. In
a democracy, the public evaluates the performance of each service. The police administration
needs to reform its organisation by which the police officer are aware of the citizen’s charter
and they provide quick and honest services to them. Credibility in democracy will be the
biggest asset of the police.
CIVIL SERVICE IN DEMOCRACY
Pre Independence Era
The civil service in India has a long history. There was an organised administration during the
pre British rule. It is interesting to note that the civil service for the public works started during
the middle of 19th century. This was the time when the colonial state went for a permanent
civil service based on merit. The modern education system, introduced by the colonial state,
enabled the educated people to compete for various jobs of the state.
The Government of India Act of 1858 provided for a multi-tier bureaucratic authority which
continued to exist upto 1947. These were:
1) the secretary of the state assisted by India office;
2) the viceroy and his executive council which constituted central government assisted by the
3) The Governor and his Council at the provincial level assisted by the Provincial Secretariat
4) The District Collector assisted by other district officers.
Services were divided into three levels- the superior services (All India and Central Services),
the provincial services, and the subordinate services. All India services were recruited by the
Secretary of State to work in any part of India; as a rule, officers were assigned a particular
province. By the Government of India Act 1919, other services were abolished but the India
Civil Service and the Indian Police Service remained. These services were monopolised by
the Britishers and gradually got Indianised. In 1923, the Government of India established
Public Service Commission for the recruitment of persons with appropriate qualification. The
Government of India Act of 1935 undertook some modifications.
Post Independence Era
There were several debates in the Constituent Assembly regarding the retention of the civil
service. The Constitution has made specific provisions regarding the responsibilities of the civil
servants. In a democratic system the political executive is the highest body assisted by the civil
Civil Service and Legislature
The Distinctive Features of the Administrative Framework of the Country are:
1) The supremacy of the parliament over the executive and the right of Parliament to seek,
receive and apprise information about governmental actions with a view to reviewing the
working of the administrative machinery.
2) The pre-eminence of the position of the Prime Minister in the Council of Ministers and
3) The collective responsibility of the Council of Ministers to the Parliament
4) The individual responsibility of each minister holding a portfolio to formulate the departmental
policies. It is his or her responsibility of supervising the administration of these policies and
other departmental works.
5) The obligation on the part of ministers and civil servants to uphold the Constitution and
rule of law.
6) The obligation of every public servant to implement faithfully all policies and decisions of
the Ministers even if these are contrary to the advice tendered by them.
7) The right of public servants to express themselves frankly in tendering advice to their
superiors including the ministers.
8) The observance by public servants of the principles of political neutrality and impartiality
and anonymity. (Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), Report on Machinery of
Government of India, p. 3).
Most of the posts below the level of Ministers in the Secretariat and in the field organisation
are manned by the civil servants. Their work consists of assisting the political executive in
policy formulation, programme implementation and administration of the laws of the land. They
did contribute in policy making process actively as they are taken as the professionals who
are competent to provide the inputs in the policy making process. The final touches are
supposed to be given by the minister followed by the Council of Ministers. It is wrong to
presume that the policy making is done by the political masters and the implementing agency
is the civil service. They are responsible for implementing the policies. At the same time, they
are not accountable to the Parliament. It is the ministers who are accountable to the Parliament
and answer the questions related to the issues regarding the implementation of policies.
Constitution of India
The provisions of the Constitution have made it clear that they cannot be removed by the
politicians. They retain their independence in the democratic system. Art 311 says that they
cannot be removed from the job without a proper enquiry duly constituted by the President
of India. This explains the peculiar position of the civil servants in our democracy. The reasons
are given by some of the scholars that at the time of Independence there were violent conflicts
between the Hindus and Muslims on one side and between the landlords and peasants on the
other. The framers of the constitution realised the need for the independence of the civil
servants from these social groups and made specific provisions for the civil service. The
Constitutional Review Committee has suggested the removal of the provision. They can be
controlled and managed by the Civil Service Commission like the French system. Art 309
gives powers to the central government to regulate the service conditions and recruitment
through an Act made by the appropriate authority. They are regulated by the Central Civil
Service Conduct Rules, 1964. The Official Secrecy Act, 1923 provides for strigent action for
unauthorised disclosure of information prejudicial to the interests of the State. They have been
provided adequate security as they handle some of the important works of the
government. If they shirk responsibilities they can be persecuted by the state under the various
Acts of a State.
Often there is a complaint that they are prone to corruption and abuse of power and it is not
easy to bring them under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, as one needs the permission
of higher authority for filing charges against the civil servants at the joint secretaries level and
Reforms are Overdue
The civil servants are assigned responsibilities in a particular state where the government of
the state cannot persecute them. Often, they function as the representatives of the central
government which goes against the spirit of federalism. A professional outlook, knowledge and
management skills are required. The Administrative Reforms Committee (ARC) suggests that
those departments in which technical qualifications are required, the IAS may not be posted
there. Most of these suggestions have remained on the paper. Modern state and economy
demand knowledge managers. With the introduction of IT, there is a demand for e-governance.
This is the demand raised by Kurien who has managed successfully a biggest cooperative
dairy development project.
The Alagh Committee suggests that the method of recruitment needs to be changed with an
emphasis on knowledge.
Relations with Judiciary
The relations between the Judiciary and civil service have not been cordial. Some of the senior
civil servants including the Chief Secretaries have already faced contempt of court cases and
duly punished. They have to upgrade their knowledge of law and Constitution by which they
can be friendly to Judiciary. They have to be sentitive to various issues and conduct themselves
accordingly. They have to be citizen friendly and responsive to the needs of the public. The
right to information has been passed by the state governments and the civil servants have to
deliver the services in a quick and effective manner by which they are accountable to the
public. With the introduction of management of Public Services, the Civil Service is accountable
to both Public and Parliament.
With the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments the Panchayati Raj system has been
strengthened. The government has accepted a three-tier administrative system. At every level
there are public representatives who can help in making the public policies and supervise the
administration of these policies. They have the powers of the District Collectors. They are
known as the chief executive to the District Development Councils. This has changed the face
of the District Collectors (DCs) and District Magistrates (DMs). In a democracy, the civil
service has to modify its behaviour and style of functioning to complement the needs of
As P.K. Mattoo says, “the establishment of the Panchayati Raj institutions on a country-wide
basis and the transfer of some of the traditional functions of the civil service system to these
newly established institutions constitute a new policy trend in the civil service system. The
Government, as a rule, is committed to the principles of democratic decentralisation.
Consequently, considerable stress is now being given to the introduction of a rural bias in
Civil Service/Political Environment
The civil service system gets its nourishment from its political environment. It is not independent
of the political executive. Their performance depends on the quality of the political executive.
With a decline in the quality of political leadership, the democracy has suffered. The performance
of civil service had declined. A reform in civil service is a continuous process. Evaluation of
their performance needs to be measured both by the political executive and civil society. The
public is recognising good and competent officers. This recognition motivates them to work
better. They are also accountable to the political leadership. They have to perform in a neutral
and objective manner. In an era of coalition politics, their non partisan role is going to
strengthen democracy. They are getting pressurised by some vested interests in the name of
politics. This nexus between the politicians and criminals and civil servants has been studied
by the Vohra committee. This is a warning for both the democratic leadership and civil service.
There is a demand by the civil service association for scrapping the Official Secrecy Act which
can help them to be bold and fearless. With the introduction of citizen’s charter, there is a
demand that their notings should be made to the public where their work can be evaluated
in terms of value addition. These changes can help them to perform better in a democracy.
Relations with Political Leadership
Civil service and political leadership has a definite relationship in a democracy as they play
an active role in the making of public policy. They give a clear direction to the civil administration
for implementing the public policy and also make them accountable to the failures in implementing
the policy. In the Indian democracy, one can find a high quality of leadership during Nehru
and Indira Gandhi’s period, except during the emergency. During Nehru’s period India entered
into a path of planned development. Any planned development demands that civil service has
to fulfill the target fixed by each plan. This was possible because of the energetic leadership
of Nehru and a high intellectual content in each plan which is based on ground reality. Mrs.
Gandhi took the initiative to implement the policy of green revolution with the help of civil
servants and scientists. She succeeded in making India a food surplus state. These are some
examples which show the quality of leadership who can motivate the civil service to work with
a passion and desire to serve the nation. The equation between the political leadership and
the civil service has changed subsequently. Civil service is virtually dominating in these
relationships. This does not augur well for the Indian democracy. In an era of globalisation,
it has been found that the civil service is much more prone to implementing World Bank
policies than follow the political leaders. It seems that in first decade of liberalisation from
1991 to 2000, the civil servants in some of the ministries who had a close association with
the World Bank, have played a key role in making public policies. It affects the sovereignty
of a nation.
MILITARY IN DEMOCRACY
In the post colonial world, the Military is playing a decisive role in politics. Between 1960 and
1980 three quarters of the Latin American states, one third of Asian states and over a half
of the African states experienced coups. The 1980s saw the trend continue strongly. It is a
moot point of history that there has been a coup or an attempted coup in some parts of the
world. From a World Bank study, one finds that since 1948 there has been at least one coup
attempt per developing country every five years. (World Bank, 1991, p. 128).
Theories Behind Military Coups
The role of military in politics has been a subject of debate among the social scientists,
especially the political scientists. Their classical theory says that military has no role in democratic
politics. They maintain a distance from the civilian leadership. They do not directly take
interest in politics. This is a medieval phenomenon. During the feudal period weak kings have
been replaced by their Military Commanders. This does not happen in modern politics.
Military has a constitutional role in a democracy. They are supposed to obey the civilian
political leader. Facts disapprove the above hypothesis. There are various political theories in
support of the Military taking over political power. The theory of modernisation says that in
a traditional society, the military is a modernising force. They are educated people with a
modern outlook. They know how to modernise a traditional society. This helps them to come
to political power. Furthermore, they are organised people who have control over the weapons
and military trained personnel. They got motivated to capture power against the civilian
leaders. The civilian leaders do not always have the required modern organising skills nor do
they have modern educated youths with them to compete for power. A group of political
economists float a theory that a developing country, due to its meagre sources, cannot waste
such precious resources in instituting political democracy. For them political democracy is a
luxury for the poor. The poor is more interested in bread and not freedom. The third group
of social scientists provide a cultural theory that most of the third world countries do not have
the cultural tradition of democracy. They have an authoritarian approach to life. Their family
is authoritarian in structure which supports the military rule. Very often a single religious group
who is dominating a nation uses cultural nationalism to rule over a nation. The military represents
the cultural nationalism of a dominant community. Further some of the political scientists feel
that when a country experiences too much political instability because of fragmentation of
political parties, this leads to intervention of military in the name of political stability. These
societies feel that social and political order is more important than the political stability.
Constitutional niceties such as parliamentary procedures, popular consent or political
representation are ignored, because elected assembly is dissolved soon after the take over of
power by the military. Elections get suspended and political parties get banned.
Military in Indian Politics
India being a third world country is having a stable political democracy. “Civil-military relations
in post colonial India have been something of a model for the third world in that military
capacity has been greatly increased without a major threat to civilian rule. The 50 years of
postcolonial history reveal considerable tension between civil and military authority and policy
debates during this period display a variety of conflicting views on the appropriate role for the
military in Indian life.” (Glynn L. Wood and Daniel Vaagenes, “Indian Defense Policy: A New
Phase’ Asian Survey, vol. Xxiv, no. 7, July, 1984).
Relations with Political Leaders
Civil-military relations developed during Nehru’s Prime Ministership. He gave more priority to
economic and human resource development of a society. He maintained India’s relationship
with most of the foreign countries through an effective foreign policy strategy. His defence
Minister VK Krishna Menon was able to handle the affairs in a competent manner. Menon
became the “symbol of civilian control of the military during the Nehru years and a symbol
of political intrusion into the military’s professional business.” (Wood and Vaagenes).
The Sino-Indian War of 1962 was clearly the watershed for the Indian military. The India
Government of has started the modernisation of the Indian military, both in terms of the supply
of arms and ammunition and training of the personnel. India has established its defense
relations with both the USA and Soviet Russia. Its military process came to the fore at the
time of the creation of Bangladesh when Mrs. Gandhi was the Prime Minister. The Indian
military has played a decisive role in framing the defense policy. India has entered into the
nuclear club as the sixth member with the testing of a nuclear device in 1974. India is pursuing
its autonomous policy in nuclear development and has developed its own nuclear weapon.
The Indian Army is the fourth largest in the world after China, Russia and the US. The Air
Force has acquired some of the sophisticated fighter planes. The Army and Air Force appear
to have an integrated plan for India’s defence. During 1980s and 1990s, the Indian Navy also
tread the path of modernisation alongwith its counterparts. The Indian Navy has got more than
100 ships, 150 air craft and thousands of highly trained man-power. Indian defence budget
has increased since 1971, and touched almost 3 percent of its GDP. India’s strategic objectives
and its inter-service ratio for defence expenditures have been relatively stable.
The Role of Military in the Decision Making Process
India is a regional power in Asia and is aspiring to be a permanent member in the UN Security
Council. The Heads of the Army, Air Force and Navy have been playing an active role in
formulating an effective defence policy. They are represented, in the cabinet meeting, by the
Defence Minister. A concise policy draft is prepared by them with the help of the defence
Secretary who is usually an IAS officer. They are members of the National Security Council.
The Indian military is rarely used in internal politics except at the time of a large scale
communal riot or ethnic conflict. They are not allowed to play an active role in the democratic
politics. They are performing their constitutional role which is strengthening the Indian democracy.
The coercive apparatus of the state is a part of ancient Indian History. In the modern state,
constitutional laws guide the actions of each and every institution/organ, for an effective
functioning of the state. Police, civil service and military constitute the core of the coercive
apparatus. In this unit, these three organs are studied in detail. In the contemporary era, the
state is infested with many a problem and the police force is faced with a number of challenges.
Its relations with the legislature, executive, judiciary and public are studied in detail.
The civil service in India has a distinct record right from the pre-British era. Their work
consists of assisting the political executive in policy formulation, programme implementation
and administration thus contributing actively to the policy making process. Nevertheless, reforms
are overdue with regard to this administrative machinery. Military, in the post colonial world,
has been playing a decisive role. They have control over the weapons and military trained
personnel. They are instrumental in formulating an effective defence policy. The above three
have been playing an important role in strengthening the Indian democracy.