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Indian Police and Ethics

GS Paper 4

Syllabus: Application of Ethics


Policing is essential for maintaining law and order and the smooth functioning of society. The absence of a professional code of ethics creates a scenario where it is easy to be a moral opportunist and use unethical conduct as a means of career advancement.

Why Police Ethics are different?

Life and liberty are fundamental moral values. While making any moral decisions, the police have to consider a complex array of conditions. For any action taken by a person, they have to see the motivation and intentions of the action and its consequences. They have to do their jobs in accordance with the laws that are in place at that time,

Police may be required to face danger or hostility in order to do their duty; police officers are likely to experience a range of emotions including fear, anger, suspicion, excitement, and boredom largely than people in other occupations. To act effectively as police, they must be able to respond to these emotions in the right way, which requires them to be emotionally intelligent.


Issues with Ethical Policing in India:

  • Corruption
  • Politicization of the police
  • Custodial death
  • Using harmful methods like coercion and deception.
  • Lack of a proper tenure policy for the posting of officers at different levels and arbitrary transfers.


Various suggestions given for Ethical Policing

The National Human Rights Commission (1998)

  • The police must be “low in authority and high in accountability.” the protection of human rights is a core police function.
  • Police practice must comply with carefully worked out ethical principles that appropriately balance the moral rights of victims with those of suspects constrained by the ethical principles of necessity and proportionality.

Community Policing: It helps in reducing the trust deficit between police and the public as it requires the police to work with the community

  • Community Policing Programme ‘Ummeed’ (Delhi)
  • Friends of Police (Tamil Nadu)
  • Janamaithri Suraksha Project (Kerala)
  • Joint Patrolling Committees (Rajasthan)
  • Meira Paibi (Manipur)
  • Community Policing Project (West Bengal)
  • Maithri (Andhra Pradesh)
  • Mohalla Committees ( Maharashtra)


Practice Questions

Q. Discuss some of the ethical issues surrounding a modern police job. (250 words)