Honours Certificate Programme

BA (MCJ) – Interdisciplinary

Series on Police and Human Rights 

By Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

Proposed outline 

Title: Police and Human Rights

Sessions: 6

Dates: 29 October, Thursday to 3 December, Thursday

The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, New Delhi, proposes to conduct a series on policing and human rights for the St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. The series is intended to help students understand policing in India better, with a focus on the role of the police in upholding, protecting and promoting realization of human rights. The series will briefly introduce the history of policing in India, its origins under colonial rule and journey through independence; and explain how the police in India is organised, staffed and governed. It will include a combination of sessions that will review gender and caste issues related to policing with sessions that will provide practical information about the police, in particular on reporting crimes. The running thread through each session will be an emphasis on the standards and principles of democratic policing befitting a democratic nation. The sessions will not only educate students about the existing police structure, powers and practices, but enable them to critically reflect on the extent to which these are in sync with our constitutional framework and values, recognize gaps and encourage thinking about, and engagement with, efforts at achieving better policing.


SessionsTopicDelivered byDurationProposed Dates
Session 1Know Your PoliceCHRI1.5 hrs29 October, Thursday
Session 2Filing complaints; Reporting crimesCHRI1.5 hrs5 November, Thursday
Session 3Women’s rights and policingCHRI with partner1.5 hrs12 November, Thursday
Session 4Caste-based violence and policingCHRI with partner1.5 hrs19 November, Thursday
Session 5Police power to use force: Regulating the ‘Danda’CHRI1.5 hrs26 November, Thursday
Session 6Police Reforms and Us: How Can We Participate? CHRI2 hours3 December, Thursday

*Dusshera is on 25 October, Sunday, and Diwali is on 14 November, Saturday

Details of each session is as follows:


Date: 29 October, Thursday

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM 

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Aim: The series will begin with an introductory session on policing in India to help students better understand how the police is organized, staffed and governed. Knowing the police rank structure and make-up of important units such as the police station will improve knowledge of how the police functions, the positions with whom key decisions rests, be it regarding public safety, crime prevention or investigation, and the limits of police powers. 

Information covered: The session will focus on the following: 

  • Police rank structure – difference between the Indian Police Service and State Police Service
  • Important decision-making ranks
  • Police station and its make-up
  • Diversity in policing – proportional representation of women, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and religious minorities in India

Resource persons: Senior members of CHRI’s police reforms program will conduct the session 

Mode of delivery: Combination of

  1. Presentation
  2. Short videos on the police station (virtualpolicestation)
  3. Interactive discussion: Based on the rank structure and data shared on existing personnel strength at each level and representation of different sections/communities, what do you feel are the three major challenges/problems in our police organization? 

Reading material (post the session)

  1. Police Organization in India (English/Hindi)
  2. 101 Questions (English/Hindi/Marathi
  3. Sheets on the rank structure and police station staff
  4. Fact sheet on Maharashtra Police

Exercise at the end of the session (for all students) 

Find out the names of the following:

  1. Police station that covers a) your residential area; and b) your college.
  2. Officer-in-Charge/SHO of both the police stations.
  3. Name of current Mumbai Police Commissioner
  4. Name of current DGP, Maharashtra


Date: 5 November, Thursday

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM 

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Aim: Crimes in India are classified under two categories in law – cognizable and non-cognizable. Cognizable offences are relatively more serious offences where the police can initiate an investigation on receiving a complaint/information including carry out an arrest without first getting a court’s permission. Non-cognizable offences are where the police first require court permission before proceeding with investigation. The procedure followed by the police in registering complaints of cognizable and non-cognizable nature is different. The session will introduce these broad categories (through examples), explain the different first registration procedures for each, the reason why they are different and its implication for policing, and crucial information for the public in approaching the police to file any complaint. Knowledge of these procedures will improve the quality of the public’s engagement with the police, and also enable the public to hold the police to check when procedures are not followed. 

Information covered: The session will focus on: 

  • Reporting a crime to the police:
  • What is the difference between cognizable and non-cognizable offences under law? Why is this important?
  • How do we report a crime to the police? What are the different ways?
  • Registering the crime by the police
  • What steps are police required to follow once I report a crime? 
  • Can I go alone to register? 
  • What is a FIR? 
  • Refusal to register FIR by the police
  • What can you do if the police refuse to register FIR? 
  • Special provisions for women complainants 

Resource persons: Senior members of CHRI’s police reforms program

Mode of delivery: Combination of

  1. Short video on FIR (procedure versus practice)
  2. Case study (examples of filing FIR for common crimes relevant for Mumbai – chain snatching/car theft/robbery OR for any crime reported in the newspaper that day)

Reading material

CHRI: Pamphlet on FIR (English; Hindi)

CHRI: Maharashtra Police Complaints Authority: A User Guide (English; Marathi)

Class assignment

CHRI will share a short multiple-choice questionnaire based on the session on reporting and FIR. All students will be expected to fill in the online survey before the next session/within the stipulated time. 


Date: 12 November, Thursday

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM 

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Aim: Policing worldwide is seen as a man’s institution. This bears out in the composition of the police organization that remains predominantly male-dominated in India – women make up just 9% of the total police strength as on 1.1. 2019. This also bears out in the common experiences of humiliation, disbelief, harassment and violence that women complainants/victims often experience while reporting a crime, especially a sexual offence, to the police. This session will focus on women rights and policing. Through targeted discussions, it will throw light on common attitudes and gaps in the understanding, and practice, of gender equality that characterizes policing in the country, and its repercussion on safety of women. It will explain important policy and legal developments aimed at achieving equal treatment, both within the police and in response to women complainants, with a view to enable critical reflection. 

Information covered: This session will cover the following issues: 

  • Overview of crimes against women (CAW) and special procedures
  • List of gender-based crimes/sexual offences
  • Special safeguards for women
  • Police initiatives on CAW (helplines; helpdesks/ special cells etc)
  • Legal obligations and standards on equal opportunity for men and women

Resource persons: CHRI will deliver this session together with one of our civil society partners/experts working on women’s rights issues (to be finalized). 

Mode of Delivery: Discussion through case studies

Reading Material


2020, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives, Barriers in Accessing Justice: The Experiences of 14 Rape Survivors in Uttar Pradesh, India (English; Hindi)

2015, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Rough Roads to Equality: Women Police in South Asia

Lawyers’ Collective: Engaging with the Criminal Justice System: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Violence 

CHRI pamphlet: Victims of Sexual Offences (English; Hindi)

Class assignment

A short write-up (up to 500 words) on any one of the following:

  1. An analysis of the coverage of reported sexual assault/rape incidents by the press. 
  2. Any film based on policewomen (for instance Mardaani, Soni, Delhi Crime) and 2-3 issues that emerge from the depiction of women in police in popular culture.
  3. Does the police need women or not? Explain. 
  4. A police chief of police X has decided that all women police officers can serve only in all-women teams dealing mainly with crimes against women and children. He believes this will provide the best opportunities for women in police to excel. The police chief has given the local community and police personnel an opportunity to share thoughts and feedback on this proposal. In the shoes of a community member/or in the shoes of a woman police officer, what do you think? Please give us your thoughts in 500 words. 

Session 4: Caste-based violence and policing

Date: 19 November, Thursday

Time: 3:00 PM – 4:30 PM

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Aim: The aim of this session is to raise students’ awareness of caste-based offences called “atrocities” and explore issues related to the expected police response to such offences. Recent examples of reported violence against the Scheduled Castes will be taken to explore and discuss questions around bias (implicit and explicit) and discrimination. The session will also connect with information shared in the first session on the numbers of Scheduled Castes in the police to highlight gaps in SC representation in the police, and explore the implications for policing in general. 

Information covered: This session will cover the following areas:

  • Overview of caste-based offences as defined in law 
  • What are caste atrocities?
  • Special procedures for the police to follow
  • Police initiatives 
  • Legal standards and obligations on equal opportunity 

Resource persons: CHRI will deliver jointly with an expert/activist working on Dalit and Adivasi rights. 

Mode of Delivery: Combination of

  1. Presentation (legal provisions and independent research findings)
  2. Discussion through case studies

Reading material

2020, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Quest for Justice: Implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

2018, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Guide on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (English; Hindi)

Class assignment

A short write up (up to 500 words) OR a short video (2-3 mins) sharing reflections on any movie/documentary that addresses caste violence and/or discrimination in popular culture (movie can be from any part of the country)

Session 5: Police power to use force: Regulating the ‘Danda’

Date: 26 November, Thursday

Time: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM 

Duration: 1.5 hrs

Aim: A key feature that distinguishes the police from other public authorities is that the police have the “authority to use force in situations where it is necessary in order to achieve a legitimate law enforcement objective” (2017, OHCHR). Force may be used to carry out an arrest when a suspect is not cooperating, or to regulate a public assembly that turns violent, for instance. In this session, we will moderate a focused discussion on principles, and the practice of police use of force. This will be done through a mix of presentations on international and domestic standards the police have to follow, and interactive discussion around case studies of police use of force in India. Questions that will be explored include: In what situations are the police authorized by law to use force?  What do standards say about police using lethal force, including firearms? How are the police held accountable for use of force? 

Information covered: The session will cover the following:

  • Legal obligations and principles on use of force
  • Oversight and accountability
  • Case studies of use of force scenarios 

Resource persons: Senior members of the police program at CHRI

Mode of Delivery: Combination of:

  1. Presentation through case studies

Reading Material

2017, UNITED NATIONS, Resource book on the use of force and firearms in law enforcement

UNITED NATIONS, Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

Class assignment

Students are to work individually or in groups of 2-3 to develop posters/information brochure/flyer explaining the abiding principles on use of force by the police, and protocols to be followed. The material is to be designed as an educational material to improve public understanding of what constitutes unlawful force and measures to hold the police accountable. 

Session 6: Police Reforms and Us: How Can We Participate? 

Date: 3 December, Thursday

Time: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM 

Duration: 2 hrs 

Aim: The series will conclude with a session on the role citizens can play in demanding and pushing for accountable and just policing in the country. The session will present different strategies that civil society police reform advocates have tried through specific case study examples – campaigning, advocacy, research, strategic litigation, and partnerships. But mainly, the session will be an interactive discussion to hear from the students on ideas they may have to push for police reforms, whether in big or small ways. 

Information covered: This session will present:

  • Information and case studies on police reform initiatives
  • Advocacy for change in Police Acts 
  • Campaigns 
  • Strategic litigation 
  • Select initiatives by police departments 
  • Action research 
  • Tools for research on policing
  • Existing sources of information on policing
  • Use of Right to Information Act
  • Surveys
  • Audits
  • Interviews and Focus Group Discussions
  • Legal Analysis

Resource persons: Senior members of the police program. 

Mode of delivery: Presentation along with discussions

Class assignment: 

Students to collectively develop a charter with ten main demands/action points on police reforms (tbc) 

Contact email: akshara.jadhav@xaviers.edu

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