Prakash Singh is a 1959 batch retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Uttar Pradesh cadre. Post-retirement, he has often made headlines for taking the legal route to enforce the implementation of the police reforms. In December 2022, he appeared on the Sony TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).
Prakash Singh was born on Friday, 10 January 1936 (age 86 years; as of 2022) in Azamgarh, United Provinces, British India (now in Uttar Pradesh, India). After completing his schooling, Prakash enrolled at the University of Allahabad, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in arts. Later, he pursued a master’s degree in arts in history at the University of Allahabad.
Parents & Siblings
Not much information is available about his parents and siblings.
Wife & Children
His wife’s name is Savitri. His son, Pankaj Kumar Singh, is an IPS officer and the former Director General (DG) of the Border Security Force (BSF). His son, Piyush Kumar Singh, is a corporate executive and entrepreneur who lives in the United States of America.
Prakash Singh was posted as an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in 1959 in Kanpur. Later, he was promoted to the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP).
In 1965, he was posted to Kohima, the North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) (now in Nagaland). There, he participated in counter-insurgency operations to defeat the Naga rebels. According to Prakash, the militants had ordered his assassination and even placed a reward on his head. Talking about it, he said,
It was a scary time. I remember the Naga militants had issued a farman for my death. The order was followed by a reward on my head. After that, it was a cat and mouse game.”
Prakash served in Kohima till 1968. During the rise of insurgency in Punjab, Prakash was appointed as the Inspector General (IG) of the Punjab frontier of the Border Security Force (BSF). Prakash was accredited with devising strategies that led to the downfall of militantism in Punjab. Later, to curtail the infiltration from Pakistan to the Indian side of Punjab, Prakash conducted a study on the deployment of fences along the International Border with Pakistan, which bore fruitful results. In 1991, Prakash was posted to Assam as Director General of Police (DGP) of Assam Police. Prakash, however, requested the Chief Minister of Assam to remove him from the post as he could not handle the frequent interference of the state government in police affairs. Talking about it, he said,
I asked the CM, in writing, that please remove me. I can not function to my best capabilities because of the constant interference from the government.”
Prakash served as the DGP of UP Police twice. His first tenure began on 22 July 1991; however, he was removed from his post on 30 September 1992 after he refused to adhere to the CM’s order of reducing security around the then-disputed Ram Mandir site. Prakash was reinstated as DGP of UP Police on 23 December 1992 after the Babri Masjid was demolished. He served as DGP till 8 June 1993. According to him, he was removed once again after a few policemen complained to the Home Ministry against him as he had taken disciplinary action against the policemen for corruption and malpractices. Talking about it, during an interview, he said,
I was summoned to Home Ministry, apparently, for taking strict actions against a few police officers who were corrupt. They grouped together and lodged a complaint against me to the HM. When I reached there, the HM fired on me but I firmly stood my ground. Later, he told me to leave as there was no point in talking, I saluted and left. While on my way back, my orderly was ready with my transfer orders and I was asked to hand over my charge to a new DGP in just two hours. They also tried to suspend me, but found nothing against me to suspend.”
As DGP UP Police, he conducted several campaigns against the mafias operating in the state. Prakash later attended a 4-month course at the Administrative Staff College in Australia. On 9 June 1993, Prakash assumed the position of Director General (DG) of the Border Security Force (BSF). As DG, he emphasized the modernisation of the force deployed in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. He served with the BSF till 31 January 1994. Prakash retired from the service in 1994.
After retiring from the police service, Prakash Singh served as an expert on the selection of All India Civil Services officers with the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). In 2007, he served as chairman of the Allahabad High Court’s constituted committee on decriminalizing politics in Uttar Pradesh. He held the post of chairman till 2008. In 2008, he was appointed by the Planning Commission as a member of its expert panel to study challenges faced by the government in extremist-affected areas. From 2013 to 2014, he served as a member of the National Security Advisory Board.
PIL in the Supreme Court
According to Prakash Singh, the police force in India still functions according to the Colonial-era provisions of the Police Act of 1861. Seeking modernisation of the functionality of the police force, he filed a PIL in the Supreme Court in 1994. According to the litigation, Prakash demanded that all the states should adopt the seven recommendations made by the 1977 National Police Commission. The recommendations were –
- The tenure for which a DGP serves in the state should be fixed so that the police officers about to retire from their service are not appointed to the post.
- Fixing the period for which an Inspector General (IG) of a state’s police serves to minimize political interference in the functioning of the police.
- Establishing State Police Complaints Authority (SPCA), which would take action against corrupt police officers on the complaints from the public.
- Establishing State Security Commissions (SSC), which should encompass IAS, IPS, and PCS officers.
- Setting up a National Security Commission (NSC).
- Implementing new investigation, law, and order policies in every state for improving the functionality of the police force.
- Every state must have a Police Establishment Board (PEB), which would look after the postings of the police officers in the state. This would minimalize political interference while handing out postings to the police officers.
In 2006, the Supreme Court gave its judgement in favour of Prakash Singh and directed all the states to implement the recommendation made by the National Police Commission; however, as of 2021, only 18 states have passed a resolution for implementing the recommendations. In an interview, Prakash Singh also claimed that he had approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for speeding up the implementation of the police reforms, but he was shunted by the then NSA of India.
- The Government of India awarded India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri, for distinguished police service in 1991.
- He was awarded Police Medal for Meritorious Service and Police Medal for Distinguished Service by the Uttar Pradesh government.
- Prakash Singh has authored several books including Irregular Warfare: The Maoist Challenge to India’s Internal Security, India’s Northeast: The Frontier in Ferment, Histoire du Naxalisme (French), Kohima to Kashmir: On the Terrorist Trail, The Naxalite Movement in India, The Struggle For Police Reforms In India: Ruler’s Police to People’s Police, and more.
- In 2003, after the Naxalites tried to assassinate the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the Andhra Pradesh government appointed him to investigate the matter. He submitted a detailed report on 6 February 2004.
- In 2014, he appeared on a talk show titled Satyamev Jayate.
- In October 2015, Prakash Singh assumed the position of chairman of the New Delhi-based Indian Police Foundation and Institute.
- To submit a report on the Role of Officers of Civil Administration and Police during the Jat Reservation agitation, the Haryana Government appointed Prakash in February 2016. He submitted the report within 71 days.
- In 2018, Prakash Singh was felicitated at the Indian Federation of Working Journalists event by Maneka Gandhi.
- Prakash Singh became an associate fellow at the US-based Joint Special Operations University (JSOU).
- Prakash Singh is also a member of the Vivekananda International Foundation.
- On 27 December 2022, Prakas Singh appeared on the Sony TV show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC).