Uttarakhand High Court Orders Abolition of Revenue Police System Within a Year

The Uttarakhand High Court has mandated the abolition of the state’s revenue police system within the next year, directing that its responsibilities be transferred to the regular police force. This decision aims to unify law enforcement under a single entity. Uttarakhand remains the only state in India where the revenue police operate alongside the regular police.

The revenue police, staffed by officials from the revenue department, has jurisdiction only over remote rural areas and possesses limited enforcement powers. The order was issued by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Rakesh Kumar Thapliyal while addressing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that called for the system’s termination.

This ruling follows a series of similar judgments, including a 2018 decision during a dowry death case, which criticized the revenue police’s ineffective handling of the investigation. The system’s inadequacies were again highlighted in 2022, when delays in the murder investigation of resort receptionist Ankita Bhandari were attributed to initial handling by the revenue police. Subsequent outcry over the case prompted the state cabinet to pass a resolution for phasing out the revenue police.

The Supreme Court had previously recognized the need for reform in 2004, in Navin Chandra vs State Government, pointing out the lack of proper training and facilities for the revenue police compared to their regular counterparts.

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