The state-level and regional police complaints authorities are expected to function as independent bodies and provide an effective and speedy remedial platform for citizens with grievances against the police such as inaction and abuse of power.
On September 22, 2006, while pronouncing a landmark verdict on police reform in response to a public interest litigation filed by former Indian Police Service officer Prakash Singh, the Supreme Court mandated that all state governments form state-level and regional police complaints authorities to look into complaints of police harassment, brutality and inaction.
According to the 2006 judgment, members of the state-level and regional authorities are expected to work for them full-time and may hire staff to conduct field inquiries. The Supreme Court, for this purpose, allowed the authorities to use the services of retired investigators from the CID or any other organisation. The Supreme Court said that the recommendations of these authorities will be binding on the concerned officials.
Once set up, the State level Complaints Authority will take complaints about misconduct by police personnel, including incidents of death, grievous hurt or rape in police custody, while the regional authorities will look into less serious complaints, such as extortion, land or house grabbing, or any incident involving abuse of power by police personnel.
In its landmark 2006 judgment, the Supreme Court had said, “The supervision and control has to be such that it ensures that the police serves the people without any regard, whatsoever, to the status and position of any person while investigating a crime or taking preventive measures… Its approach has to be service-oriented, its role has to be defined so that in appropriate cases, where on account of acts of omission and commission of police, the Rule of Law becomes a casualty, the guilty police officers are brought to book and appropriate action is taken without delay.”