The advancement in the field of technology has been exploited at its core and hence has been instrumental to the increase of infraction in the society. Starting from the traditional issue of jurisdictional competency of the police authorities to the present-day threat of “fourth generation” warfare which includes bank frauds, cyber-attacks and organised the killing, the country has always been under the threshold of happening of various heinous crime which has made the society standstill with helplessness. Therefore, the internal security of the country which is primarily under the control of the police forces had always the challenge to protect the internal peace, however, such challenge has increased with the prominence of the bloodless war in the form of cyber-attacks, economic offences etc. The technical issues relating to the defence of exceeding territorial jurisdiction of the police stations, inadequate procedural knowledge along with the lack of training, skills and equipment has made such fourth-generation warfare unstoppable and unavoidable.
This Article, therefore, focuses on the primary issues and challenges of the police forces in curbing such modern bloodless warfare and what will be the possible practical solutions to negate such effects of warfare as much as possible.
Introduction: The stage of unprotectedness
“Crime in the world has prominently contributed to the breakdown of law since time immemorial”
The above line expressed by the former Member of the Parliament of United Kingdom brings us to the reality that there remains a lot of action on the part of the various sovereigns of the world and its law enforcing agencies which needs to be done primarily to restrict the criminal misdemeanour that has been immensely successful in destroying the goodness of the world. Unfortunately, India with its multi demographic structure which includes different religion, ethnicity, culture and beliefs has always been one of the nation wherein the rate of brutality has always posed the serious question of safety of the people to the government. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Vineet Narain & Ors. v. Union of India & Anr, emphasised on the importance of strengthening the police forces of the country by stating the point that the police forces are legally obligated to proceed and function in accordance to the law against each and every citizen of this country irrespective of the position and the power of the concerned individual so as to prevent the erosion of law and let the democracy flow smoothly with the preservation of Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
The misfortune lies in the fact that the recent statistics and data does not hold the desired result of efficiency as the reports of the National Crime Records Bureau released by the Ministry of Human Affairs has clearly mentioned the seriousness that a total of 50.74 lakh criminal cases have been committed in the territory of India out of which 31.32 lakh cases have been registered under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 and the rests have been initiated under the special laws of the land and such criminality in the country has increased by 1.3% in comparison to the figures of 2017.
The above thought-provoking statistics shows the ground level reality that the safety of the citizens of this country is still under a big question and therefore the sovereign of this country with its law enforcing agencies mainly the police forces haven’t been the pivotal weapon through which the inner safety of this great country can be preserved with utter proudness. The disappointment lies in the fact that the police forces of these countries. The National Security Advisor of India Mr Ajit Doval in one of his speeches concentrated on the fact that India is currently facing a situation of “fourth-generation warfare” which in common parlance consist of the highly qualified cyber-crimes, drugs and women trafficking mainly through the medium of globalisation and technological integration. Therefore, he relied upon the efficiency of the police forces as such wars controlled and battled through the domain of technology and virtual infrastructure which is therefore against the invisible armies. Hence, Doval advocated for the fact that it is the war which needs to be fought by the police forces and not the regular armed forces of the country and if the police forces of the country face defeat then such defeat will stand as the barrier for the development of the country because a compromised internal peace cannot act as a catalyst for the growth of the nation.
The initiative and the visionary of the current Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi in 2014 resulted in the formation of the SMART Police. This reform was introduced with the preliminary objective of combating the basic issues and challenges by the Prime Minister himself during the inauguration of the 49th Annual Conference of Directors General and Inspectors General 2014. The vision and the objective revolved around the fact that the SMART policing where “S” stands for Strict and Sensitive, Modern and Mobile exhibits “M”, “A” stands for Alert and Accountable, “R” depicts Reliable and Responsive and lastly “T” stands for Techno-savvy and trained. However, the policing reforms haven’t been effective enough and require immediate practical reforms as there are various problems, while some are infrastructural, others are merely pivoting around the political whims and fancies of the ruling party in the state and at the Centre. There have been problems relating to a police organisation, infrastructure and environment to obsolete weaponry and intelligence gathering techniques to the shortage of manpower to corruption, police force in the country is not in a good shape. The political whims that have affected the police efficiencies, as per the police laws, both the Central and State police forces come under the superintendence and control of political executives, which has resulted in the lack of democratic functioning and appropriate direction.
The Jurisdictional Incapability:
The constant delay and inefficiency on the part of the police to take up or show their response towards taking up cases due to the jurisdictional issues between two different police stations has imposed some serious threats to the civilians. The law enforcing agencies of our country has never been citizen-centric towards their duty and has always taken the defence of exceeding territorial jurisdiction to set off their liability for the heinous crime that has taken place in the society. For victims also this would be extremely frustrating as their expectations of getting justice will decrease and it would result in vital time being lost thereby giving the accused the opportunity to flee, remove or tamper the shreds of evidence or influence witnesses which ultimately leads to a darker world of increased criminality.
The recent sexual assault of the lady veterinarian in the capital city of Telangana which is also known as the “Disha Rape and Murder Case” traumatized the nation from within, witnessed various agitations and protests from the civilians. It is a serious exemplar wherein the police station at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport delayed the filing of the First Information Report due to the jurisdictional issues between the two police station although the concerned police station was located near the highway and was very much near to the toll plaza from where the victim was missing and ultimately amounted to the murder and rape of the woman veterinarian in the streets of Hyderabad. The family of the victim like any other case of Indian society stood helpless after getting the refusal of help from the police officials. The Supreme Court of India in the case of Lalita Kumari v. State of U.P., clearly held the fact that the police forces cannot refuse to register the FIR based on the territorial jurisdiction of the same. The reason for such ruling by the Apex Court strongly focuses on the fact that even if there is the slightest delay in filing the FIR of any heinous crime, then such delay can stand as a fatal situation wherein the depth of brutality increases two-fold.
The issue of filing the FIR due to jurisdictional discrepancies was also a major issue in the Nirbhaya case where the ghastly crime took place in a roaming bus. The Verma Committee which was initiated just after the Nirbhaya rape case looked into the jurisdictional issue with utmost importance and determined the fact that refusal to take up the First Information Report on the grounds of “lack of or incapable jurisdiction” is an unreasonable and vague excuse and therefore the committee came up with the recommendation of Zero FIR which was ultimately introduced in the Criminal Amendment Act of 2013. The Highest Court of the country in the case of Satvinder Kaur vs. State (Government of NCT Delhi), while delivering the judgement of the dispute, granted greater power to the police forces of the country by allowing them to investigate all those criminal cases which doesn’t fall under their territorial jurisdiction.
Therefore, the police forces with the passing of years have been vested with both the power of investigating criminal cases which don’t fall under their jurisdiction and as well as to register the FIR for the cognizable offences regardless of the jurisdiction but still it is quite unfortunate to mention the fact that the police forces in the Disha Rape and Murder case were reluctant and disobedient enough by refusing to take up the First Information Report due to the lack of jurisdiction which later turned out to be fatal for the family as the victim had to give away her life due to the late and inactive response of the police force.
The ineptness towards the Cyber-crimes
The present situation of “Fourth Generation Warfare” has resulted in an invisible war with the primary element of the integration between technology and globalisation. As mentioned earlier, the nature of these crimes are rather advanced, which then necessitates that in order to prevent such a crime to take place, or in order to hold the persons responsible for this activity accountable, the State would have to be more technologically advanced than the ones orchestrating these activities. Among all this, the first line of defence is the Police system. Internal security is very much a prerogative of police and efficient policing is needed in order to tackle these threats. But for that, the police system needs to be efficient, effective, and technologically sound. However, the current situation of the Police System seems to be in no way proximate to the desired one. Not only does the police system struggle with a hopeless state of weaponry at hand, it also struggles to keep in check with basic infrastructural facilities such as wireless connections in the police stations. In an era of ICT, the police system continues to be struggling to get proper communication network. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) information shows that across all States and UTs, there are fifty-one police stations that have neither telephones nor wireless sets.
Thus the use of technology has elevated the rate of cyber-crimes in India to a different level. The Annual Report of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology clearly specify the fact that the reported incidents of cyber-crimes in India for the year 2016-17has been 35,418 whereas, in the year 2017-2018, the number raised up to 69,539 and the numbers for the year 2018-2019 stand at 2,74,465. However, only the reported cases cannot be taken as the sole criteria to determine the rate of cyber-crime as there are thousands of unregistered cases in India which never gets registered due to the pressure of society, culture, economy etc.
The critical point in addition to such concern is the fact that the rate of investigation completion has been much lower than the rate of cyber-crimes. The infection rate of such crime has been the maximum in Hyderabad in the year 2018 with a 2% increase of the same which was followed by Bengaluru and Pune with 39% and 35% respectively. Therefore, the police forces of the country have the greater responsibility to fight with such invisible armies and combatants who are operating from different parts of the world and the country and make sure that the investigations of such cyber brutalities are looked upon with greater skill and efficiency. However, the reality seems to be really contradicting as the inner peacekeepers of the country do not have the expertise and knowledge to combat such modern warfares. The modus operandi pertaining to the cyber-crime investigation holds not only the holds the inquiry, investigation and interrogation in relation to physical artefacts which conventionally happens only in the cases of civil and criminal matters but also in relation to digital artefacts requiring greater and deeper knowledge as the attacks on the embedded system of the Information Technology is increasing at a tremendous rate as new crimes in the name of cyberstalking, cyber blackmailing was introduced in the NCRB Report of 2017.
Principal District Judge Justice Kumarugaru from the state of Tamil Nadu while inaugurating the National Cyber Defence Research Centre focuses on the fact that the field of cyber-crime requires a greater set of skills, experience and expertise and therefore the Indian legal system is struggling to keep the rate of cyber-crime in check as the police personnel are not able to restrict and investigate the matters of cyber-crime.However various incidents have shown up the exact fact that the incompetency of the police personnel in investigating the concerned case has reached a very disappointing level wherein the law enforcing agencies had to seek help from the private cybersecurity and forensic agencies to bring the culprit in front of the court. Such incident happened in the state of Tamil Nadu wherein a local actor was blackmailed by a cyber-offender with a record of intimate video conversations after tempting him over phone conversations. The blackmailer who was operating from a different city used a different Virtual Private Network (VPN) to leave no digital trace for the same. The Chennai Police after conducting the preliminary investigation sought the help of AVS Labs which is a well-reputed cyber forensic firm of Chennai. This incident which stands as one of the many cases prevailing in India clearly establishes the fact that the police forces of the country are not trained and equipped well to fight such modern warfare.
The Mistrust towards the police actions
It is also quite unfortunate to mention the situation of our country wherein a considerate amount of the population does not believe in the inner peacekeeping force of the country. Indian society with the passage of time has started to lose faith over the actions of the police forces and the legal system of the country. It is therefore quite important to bring up the statistics of 2018 survey conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies which was done in more than 22 states of the country. The results strictly pointed out to the fact that less than 25% of the current population believe in the actions of the police forces wherein the numbers for the belief towards the military and the army is 54%. Such a difference in trust and belief on the two peacekeeping forces of the country has been due to various reasons which have been going on in this country from the independence from the British rule. One of the primary reason revolves around the fact that the behaviour of various police officers when they are directly communicating with the citizens is very disappointing,
there have been various complaints of misbehaviour initiated by the citizens against the police officials. The reluctance to take up the FIR, casual attitude while investigating any offence and the absence of timely response has made the people to show no faith over the efficiency of the police department. The sanctioned police forces of the country across the states as per 2017 were estimated at 2.8 million however, in reality, the figures have reached just1.9 million. Therefore, there is a 30% vacancy rate which according to Mint’s collection throws down the fact that there are just 144 police officers for every 1 lakh population of the country.
The shortage of police staffs therefore both in the ranks of assistant commissioners, deputy commissioners as well as the inspector and constables creates a vacuum in the management of such forces and on the ground level policing respectively. become a real difficult situation for the concerned department This vacancy of forces along with several drawbacks has created a wider gap which now stands as a pivotal reason for the absence of timely responses from the police officials. Therefore, there remains a greater challenge for the sovereign as well as for the police forces of the country to make sure that the trust and belief of the citizen towards the internal peacekeeping forces of the country gradually increase and again people start to feel safe in this country.
Practical Reforms – The appropriate way out
The present issues and challenges before the police forces of the country are of serious importance and thus requires greater practical solutions and reforms. Although, it is quite unrealistic to believe in the fact that such resolution will entirely eliminate all the issues and concerns but it can be delivered with clarity that such immediate reforms and solutions can be helpful in combating the modern warfare which will ultimately help in lowering the crime rates prevailing in the society. The practical reforms, therefore, will act as a greater catalyst in eradicating the above-mentioned issues and eventually its effect would be depicted on the society.
I)The model of Zero FIR
To negate out the jurisdictional discrepancies which stood as the primary reason in the “Nirbhaya Rape Case”, J. Verma Committee Report recommended the provision of Zero FIR which will stand as out as a free jurisdiction provision. After the recommendation from the committee, the said provision was introduced in the Criminal Amendment Act of 2013. In common parlance, this provision refers to the filing of FIR in any police station regardless of the territorial jurisdiction of the police concerned. First Information Report when measured in terms of its evidentiary value, it holds greater value in respect to the other statements that are recorded by the police throughout the course of an investigation. The police station although not having the jurisdiction has to take up the FIR and should later transfer the same report to the police station who is having the territorial jurisdiction to take up the same. The FIR filed under the provision of Zero FIR is prominently registered but not numbered, thus the unnumbered FIR is sent to the concerned jurisdictional police station where it is duly numbered and hence such FIR is known as Zero FIR. This provision therefore stands as one of the pivotal weapons for the establishment of justice.
The state of Telangana after the incident of brutal rape and murder of the veterinarian implemented the concept of Zero FIR in its state. The Warangal police of Telangana filed its first FIR just after few days of the merciless issue happened in the streets of Hyderabad. The judiciary of our country has shown immense faith towards this provision and believes that such tool can stand as a measure by virtue of which the actions and the efficiency of the police will increase. Therefore, there remains greater necessary that this tool is applied by every police department of the nation so that justice prevails with the establishment of the rule of law.
II) The SMART Police reforms warfare
The reforms start with the improvement of capacity and infrastructure, the boosting primarily deals with the increase in a number of the police forces, improve in the recruitment conditions, service facilities for the officers. Quality training and workshop needs to be held at proper intervals so as to give the lessons of work pressure management and how to deal with the complexities of law and order situation. Another domain which requires greater importance is the provision and facility of accommodation which is provided to the police officers regardless of the hierarchy and post. The 5th Report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission has supported and recommended the utmost necessity of constructing major housing construction ventures for providing reasonable housing facilities to the officers. The transportation and communication facilities provided to the police forces need complete alteration and modification. Such a facility of reasonable transportation should be granted to even lower ranked police officers to boost up the process of investigation. The present administration conditions of the police departments need a complete turnaround, the basic step should be to separate the investigative police form the law and order police, the same was also stated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Prakash Singh v. Union of India, wherein it was specifically held that the separation of the investigating police officers from the law and order police officers is the very first step needs to be taken by the concerned state government which will help in boosting up the process of investigation and better expertise in the respective field with greater efficiency in the coordination of the prosecution and the police forces.
Conclusion of warfare
India from the time of its independence till date has always seen an escalated rate of crime. The concern lies to the fact that such a rate has been increasing in a drastic increasing rate with less conviction rate and investigation. Various government and non-government reports have pointed out the fact that the investigation rate of cases is much less than the rate of crimes which are prominently prevailing in India. The police forces of the country who are in charge of preserving the inner peace of the country has just not been able to put a check on such escalated rate of crime. Various issues and challenges have come up before the sovereign as to why the police forces are not being able to deliver their best potential but still proper practical and ground level reforms have not been applied.
This country and its society has quietly witnessed the occurrence of ghastly crimes and could do nothing in preventing or punishing them. The Fourth-generation warfare which has the greater element of technology in it has resulted in the growth of modern cyber-crimes which has resulted in a bloodless war which requires the immediate attention of the legislators of the country. Lack of modern equipment, technically unskilled and mere incompetency of the police forces have made them excessively weak to process such investigation.
Lack of investigation due to technicalities in addition to the absence of timely response has unfortunately made the people not to trust such forces. People nowadays don’t believe in the functioning and activities of the police forces and therefore the trust of getting justice has faded from the legal system of our country. Therefore, at this situation of crisis, the time has come to make a complete turnaround in the reforms of the police forces in respect to its existing models of functioning and as well as in the administration part of such forces. The state government needs to immediately make sure that the if any vacancy is present in respect to the number of personnel working, the government needs to immediately start a quality process of recruitment with proper attention to quality and quantity.
If such vacuum gets eradicated slowly, then the efficiency of the police forces can be seen slowly. It is therefore contended and believed that if the practical reforms are applied well in this situation, then there will be a when there will be a massive boost up in the process of investigation which ultimately leads to the increase in the rate of conviction rate in India. The day, therefore, will not be very far when each and every citizen of this country will again start to believe in the efficiency of such peacekeepers and would feel safe in this great country of ours.
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BY- Khushboo Jindal and Tarun Saini