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Policy Watch No. 18

Citizens and the State: Policing, Impunity, and the Rule of Law in India

In every nation, the police are a prominent representation of the state, backed by a profound constitutional and criminal justice architecture. The rule of law, a cornerstone of robust democracies, binds the triad of voters, elected representatives, and the state through legal frameworks. 

Beyond the fundamental question of for whom laws are drafted lies the critical role of law enforcement officers – the police machinery, and officers of the court – the judiciary. In this Policy Watch, Eklavya Vasudev, a legal scholar at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and Thomas Blom Hansen, Professor and Department Chair of Anthropology at Stanford University, U.S., take a deep look at the dynamics between the citizens and the state in the context of the criminal justice system. 

Amidst recent reforms by the Union Government, the authors critique the unchanged, historically rooted design of the criminal justice system, which endows the police with extensive powers often disadvantageous to vulnerable groups. The suggested remedy lies in reshaping the police into a community-sensitive force, steadfast in upholding the rule of law.

Keywords: India’s penal laws, IPC, CrPC, Judiciary, Police, Criminal justice system. 

Click here to download Policy Watch No.18 [PDF 737 KB]

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2. Bajpai, G.S. 2023. New Bills and a principled course for criminal law reforms, The Hindu, Aug. 17.

3. Vij, R.K. 2023. An overhaul, the criminal law Bills, and the big picture, The Hindu, Sep. 09.


4. Chandru, K. 2023. The Centre’s controversial makeover of crucial criminal codes can have far-reaching impacts, Frontline, Sep. 01.

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