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Have SC’s attempts to depoliticise police inadvertently led to a weakening of federalism?


It is widely recognised that the system envisaged by India’s founding fathers in the Constitution which came into force on January 26, 1950 was an unusually centralised one for the Indian Union’s size.

At the time, it was justified by citing the fact that India had just become independent after two centuries of colonialism while undergoing a bloody Partition that had killed millions. The country needed the stability of a centralised administration.

Belying this narrative, however, in the decades to follow, India has become even more centralised – not less. The most recent example: states now not being allowed to even appoint their own heads of police.

Losing the police

As of now, Maharashtra’s police force is headed by an interim “acting” Director General of Police. The reason: it is waiting for the Union Public Services Commission to shortlist the names of three officers. It is only after this, that Maharashtra will be able to pick its own DGP.

This isn’t all. Currently, the state of Jharkhand is facing a case of contempt in the Supreme Court for appointing an acting DGP on its own, which the state argued was an outcome of the UPSC not appointing a selection panel.

On September 3, when West Bengal approached the Supreme Court, questioning the authority of…

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