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Complete Analysis of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951

Historical background, Objects, Scope and Definitions under the Act


The Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, is a piece of legislation that governs the functioning and organization of the police force in the Indian state of Maharashtra. This act provides the legal framework for the establishment, powers, duties, and regulations related to the police force in the state. Here are some key aspects of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951:
  • Historical Background: The Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, was enacted to replace the earlier Bombay Police Act, 1951, which applied to the region when it was part of the Bombay Presidency. After India's independence and the reorganization of states in 1956, Maharashtra was carved out as a separate state, and it needed its own set of laws to govern its police force. Hence, the Maharashtra Police Act was passed to provide a comprehensive legal framework for policing within the state.
  • Objects:
    1. Maintenance of Law and Order:To ensure the maintenance of law and order, prevention, and detection of crime within the state of Maharashtra.
    2. Protection of Rights and Liberties: To protect the rights and liberties of the citizens and provide them with a sense of security and justice.
    3. Efficient Policing: To establish a well-organized and efficient police force that can effectively discharge its duties and responsibilities.
    4. Regulation of Police Functions: To provide rules and regulations governing the functioning of the police force, including their powers and responsibilities.
  • Scope:
    • The Act covers a wide range of topics related to the police force, including
      1. the organization and structure of the police department,
      2. the appointment and powers of police officers,
      3. the duties and functions of the police force,
      4. the regulation of police behavior,
      5. the rights and privileges of police personnel.
    • It also addresses issues such as the investigation of crimes, maintenance of public order, and the establishment of police stations and police outposts.
  • Definitions (Sec 2):
    • The Act defines various terms and concepts essential for its interpretation and implementation. Some common definitions in the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, may include:
      1. Commissioner of Police: The highest-ranking police officer in a police commissionerate.
      2. District Superintendent of Police: The highest-ranking police officer in a district.
      3. Police Officer: An officer appointed under this act and includes any member of the police force.
      4. Police Station: A place established and maintained by the state government where police officers perform their duties.
      5. Public Place: Any place intended for use by, or accessible to, the public, whether owned by the government or a private entity.
      6. Arrest: The taking into custody of a person under authorized circumstances, leading to their detention.
These are just a few aspects of the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951. The Act goes into great detail regarding the powers, responsibilities, and procedures related to policing within the state, and it has likely seen amendments and updates over the years to adapt to changing circumstances and legal requirements.

Superintendence, control and organization of the Police Force

Chapter II: Superintendence, Control, and Organization of the Police Force

  • Sec 3. One Police Force for the whole of the State of Maharashtra.
    There shall be one Police Force for the whole of the State of Maharashtra and such Police Force shall include every Police officer referred to in clause (6) of section 2.
  • Sec 4. Superintendence of Police Force to vest in the State Government.
    The State Government in Maharashtra has complete control over the Police Force in the state. The government official from the Home Department, who might be called Secretary, Home Secretary, Special Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary, or something similar, oversees and manages the police force.
  • Sec 5. Constitution of Police Force.
    1. The State Government in Maharashtra can decide how many police officers there should be, how they are organized into different ranks, and what authority and responsibilities they have.
    2. The recruitment, pay, allowances, and all other conditions of service of the Police Force shall be determined by the State Government by general or special order. Nothing in this clause shall apply to the members of the Indian Police and Indian Police Service.
  • Sec 6. Inspector-General, Additional and Deputy Inspector-General. �
    1. The state government appoints a top police officer known as the Director-General and Inspector-General of Police. This officer has specific powers and duties defined by the government.
    2. Additionally, the government can appoint other high-ranking police officers and delegate certain powers and responsibilities to them. These additional officers can also assist and support the Director-General in their duties as directed by the government's orders.
  • Sec 7. Commissioner. �
    1. Choose a Police Officer to be the Commissioner of Police for Greater Bombay or other specified areas, as announced officially.
    2. Appoint additional senior officers like Additional Commissioners of Police and Joint Commissioners for these areas.
    3. The Commissioner of Police has specific powers and responsibilities as defined by the law and government orders, which can be general or specific in nature.
  • Sec 10. Deputies to Commissioner. �
    1. The State Government can appoint one or more Deputy Commissioners of Police in Greater Bombay or in areas where a Commissioner is already appointed.
    2. These Deputy Commissioners of Police work under the orders of the Commissioner and can perform many of the same powers and duties as the Commissioner. However, they cannot exercise certain powers, such as the ability to create, change, or cancel rules under section 33.
  • Sec 11. Assistant Commissioners within the jurisdiction of Commissioners �
    1. The State Government can appoint Assistant Commissioners of Police for areas where a Commissioner of Police has been appointed under section 7.
    2. These Assistant Commissioners have specific powers and responsibilities that they can perform according to the law or as assigned by the Commissioner, but they cannot exercise certain powers like making, changing, or canceling rules under section 33, which is reserved for the Commissioner.
  • Sec 12. Constitution of Divisions and Sections. �
    The Commissioner of Police, under the control of the State Government, can do the following for the area under their responsibility:
    • Create police divisions.
    • Break those divisions into smaller sections.
    • Define the boundaries and size of these divisions and sections.
    Each division will be led by an Assistant Commissioner, and each section will be led by an Inspector of Police.
  • Sec 12A. Inspectors. �
    Inspectors in the police force can be appointed by the Commissioner for their specific area or by the Director-General and Inspector-General for other areas. These appointments are made based on the general or special orders given by the State Government.
  • Sec 14. Certificate of appointment. �
    1. When a police officer, typically of the rank of Inspector or below, is appointed, they receive a certificate as proof of their appointment (As Provided In Schedule II). This certificate is issued under the authority of a designated officer as directed by the State Government.
    2. If the person named in the certificate leaves the police force or is suspended, the certificate becomes invalid or ineffective during that period.
  • Sec 15. Effect of suspension of Police Officer. �
    When a police officer is suspended from their duties, they lose their powers, functions, and privileges temporarily. However, they still remain a police officer and are under the authority and control of the same officials as if they were not suspended.
  • Sec 16. General Powers of Commissioner and Superintendent �
    The Commissioner is subject to the orders of the Director-General and Inspector-General, and the Superintendent is subject to the orders of the Director-General and Inspector-General and the District Magistrate. They have the authority to oversee and manage various aspects of the police force's activities. This includes things like handling weapons, training, monitoring people and events, coordinating duties, understanding laws and procedures, and managing day-to-day tasks to ensure the police force operates effectively within their respective areas of responsibility.
  • Sec 17. Control of District Magistrate over Police Force in the district. �
    1. The Superintendent (head of police) and the entire police force in a district are under the authority of the District Magistrate.
    2. The District Magistrate must follow rules and orders set by the State Government for managing the police force, and they must also obey lawful orders from the Revenue Commissioner.
  • Sec 18. Power of District Magistrate to require reports from Superintendent �
    The District Magistrate has the authority to ask the Superintendent of Police for reports, either specific or general, on various matters related to crime, repeat offenders, keeping the peace, controlling gatherings and events, deploying police officers, assessing the behavior of subordinate police officers, using additional resources, and any other matters related to maintaining order and controlling the police force.
  • Sec 18. Power of District Magistrate to require reports from Superintendent
    The District Magistrate has the authority to ask the Superintendent of Police for reports, either specific or general, on various matters related to crime, repeat offenders, keeping the peace, controlling gatherings and events, deploying police officers, assessing the behavior of subordinate police officers,
  • Sec 19. Power of supervision by District Magistrates
    1. If the District Magistrate notices that a police officer working under the Superintendent is not suitable for their job or is ineffective for that area's needs, the District Magistrate can ask the Superintendent to replace that officer with another. The Superintendent must follow this request.
    2. However, if the officer is of a higher rank than an Inspector, the District Magistrate can report their behavior to the Director-General and Inspector-General. The Director-General and Inspector-General will then decide what action to take and inform the District Magistrate of their decision.
  • Sec 20. Power of Director-General and Inspector-General and Commissioner to investigate and regulate matters of Police accounts.
    The Director-General and Inspector-General, statewide, and the Commissioner in their specific area, can investigate and manage all the matters related to the police. Everyone involved must cooperate with them, provide necessary assistance, and follow their instructions as long as they are in line with the State Government's orders.
  • Sec 21. Special Police Officers.
    1. The Commissioner, Superintendent, or a specially authorized Magistrate can appoint a capable man between the ages of 18 and 50 as a Special Police Officer. This appointment happens with a written order, the officer's signature, and their seal. It's done when there's a fear of a riot or serious disturbance of peace, and the regular police force isn't enough to protect people and property.
    2. Special Police Officers, once appointed, receive a certificate approved by the State Government. They have the same powers, rights, and responsibilities as regular police officers, along with the same duties and obligations.
  • Sec 22. Appointment of Additional Police Officers
    1. Additional police officers can be employed or sent for a specific period, with determined pay, as decided by the authority specified in the law for this purpose.
    2. When appointed, these additional police officers receive a certificate approved by the State Government. The certificate specifies the powers, rights, and duties they have. They also follow the orders of the Commissioner or Superintendent, depending on the case.
    3. These additional police officers can be requested by anyone needing extra police assistance. The cost of employing them will be collected in the manner explained by this law or any other applicable law.
  • Sec 22A. Appointment of Railway Police. �

    The State Government can create special police districts covering specific railway areas and appoint police officers for them.

    These officers handle railway-related policing and other assigned tasks, following the State Government's orders. Some can act like station officers in their areas. They have regular police powers and responsibilities throughout the state, and the Superintendent of Police can delegate some of their powers with State Government approval.

    Case Laws:

    Regulation, Control and Discipline of the Police Force

    Chapter III from sections 23 to 32 of the Maharashtra Police Act 1951 deals with Regulation, Control and Discipline of the Police Force

    Section 23: Framing of Rules for Police Administration:

    • (1) Regulation of Inspections: Rules can be made to regulate inspections of the Police Force.
    • (2) Equipment and Necessities: Rules determine the type and quantity of arms, clothing, and other necessities provided to the police.
    • (3) Residence: Rules specify the terms and conditions for police officers residing in government-provided premises.
    • (4) Police Fund: Rules govern the institution, management, and regulation of Police Funds.
    • (5) Distribution and Location: Rules regulate the distribution, movements, and location of police officers.
    • (6) Duties and Powers: Rules assign duties and prescribe the manner and conditions for exercising powers by police officers.
    • (7) Intelligence Gathering: Rules guide the collection and communication of intelligence and information.
    • (8) Efficiency and Discipline: Rules aim to ensure the efficiency of the police force and prevent abuse or negligence of duties.

    Section 24: Director-General and Inspector-General's Authority

    • (1) Requesting Information: The Director-General and Inspector-General can request information and reports related to crime suppression and order maintenance.
    • (2) Communication of Orders: Orders issued by the Director-General and Inspector-General are communicated to the District Magistrate and the Revenue Commissioner.
    • (3) Commissioner's Authority: The Commissioner also has similar authority within their jurisdiction.

    Section 25: Punishment for Neglect of Duty

    • (1) Punishment Options: Penalties that may be imposed on police officers for neglect of duty, cruelty, negligence, or misconduct include financial recovery, suspension, rank reduction, removal from office, compulsory retirement, or dismissal.
    • (2) Suspension During Inquiry: Suspension pending an inquiry into an officer's conduct is not considered a punishment under this section.

    Section 26: Procedure for Awarding Punishment

    Punishment Procedure: This section outlines the procedure to be followed when awarding punishment to police officers. It follows the prescribed procedure, except in certain cases as specified.

    Section 27: Appeals from Punishment Orders

    1. Right to Appeal: Police officers have the right to appeal against orders of punishment.
    2. No Enhanced Punishment: Appeals cannot result in enhanced or more severe punishments unless proper notice is given, and causes for enhancement are considered.

    Section 28: Police Officers Always on Duty

    1. Continuous Duty: Police officers are considered to be on duty at all times.
    2. Statewide Deployment: They can be deployed anywhere in the state as directed by the State Government.

    Section 29: Resignation Conditions for Police Officers

    1. Resignation Restrictions: Police officers, except for Constables, can only resign with written permission.
    2. Debt Settlement: Resignation is contingent on settling any debts owed to the government or Police Fund.

    Section 30: Surrender of Certificate and Equipment

    1. Handing Over: Departing police officers must return their certificates, equipment, and other provided items.
    2. Seizure: A magistrate or authorized officer can issue a warrant to seize these items if not returned.

    Section 31: Occupying and Vacating Premises

    1. Occupation Conditions: Police officers occupying government-provided premises must comply with specified conditions.
    2. Vacating: They must vacate when required by the State Government or authorized officers.

    Section 32: Section 144 Orders

    State Government's Power: The State Government can issue orders similar to those under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure when necessary.

    Police Regulations

    Chapter IV of the Maharashtra Police Act 1951

    Chapter IV from sections 33 to 46 of the Maharashtra Police Act 1951 deals with Police Regulations.

    Rule-Making Authority:

    1. Government officials like the Commissioner, District Magistrate, and Superintendent of Police have the power to create and modify rules.
    2. These rules serve various purposes, such as controlling traffic, issuing licenses for specific activities, and maintaining public order.
    3. Importantly, these rules must align with existing laws.
    4. Some rules require prior public notice and publication to ensure transparency.
    5. Additionally, these rules cannot permit activities like the sale, manufacture, or transportation of alcohol or intoxicating drugs without the necessary legal permits.

    Dance Performances:

    1. Certain venues like restaurants, permit rooms, and bars are prohibited from hosting dance performances.
    2. Any existing licenses for dance performances in these places are invalidated.
    3. Violating this prohibition can lead to penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
    4. However, there is an option for individuals or establishments to appeal these penalties and seek reconsideration.

    Exemptions from Dance Ban:

    Some types of venues, including theaters, cinemas, auditoriums, and sports clubs, are exempt from the ban on dance performances. This means they can continue to host dance shows, even if there is a general prohibition in other places.

    Street Barriers:

    The Commissioner and Superintendent of Police have the authority to set up temporary street barriers to conduct vehicle checks. The purpose of these barriers is to ensure that vehicles and drivers comply with the law, promoting safety and security on the roads.

    Dead Body Disposal Rules:

    Competent authorities have the responsibility to establish rules for the respectful disposal of deceased individuals. These rules consider local customs and practices to ensure that the disposal methods are culturally sensitive.

    Public Behavior Orders:

    Authorities can issue orders to regulate public behavior during gatherings, processions, and other public events. These orders are intended to maintain order and prevent disturbances in public spaces.

    Prohibited Acts:

    Authorities have the right to prohibit certain activities, such as carrying weapons, possessing corrosive substances or explosives, and creating disturbances. Violating these prohibitions can result in the confiscation of prohibited items.

    Noise Control:

    The Commissioner or Superintendent of Police can issue orders to prevent excessive noise, music, or disturbances caused by loudspeakers or musical instruments. They also have the authority to modify or revoke these orders if necessary.

    Riot Prevention:

    In situations where there is a risk of riots or disturbances, authorities can temporarily close or take control of buildings or places to prevent such events. Compensation may be provided to lawful occupiers if they experience substantial losses due to these preventive measures.

    Order at Religious Events:

    Authorities can issue orders to guide the conduct of participants in religious or ceremonial events to prevent disruptions and maintain order. These orders must be reasonable and respect legal rights and established practices. They can also be subject to court decisions and must be publicly announced.

    Police Powers at Public Places:

    Senior Police Officers have the authority to issue directions at public places, amusements, or public meetings to prevent disorder or danger. The public is required to obey these directions, and police have free access to these places to enforce them.


    In addition to the above points, there are also rules and measures in place to address various other situations, such as dealing with stray dogs, managing sick or unfit animals, and preventing epidemics at large gatherings.

    Special measures for Maintenance of Public Order and Safety of State

    Chapter V of the document outlines special measures for maintaining public order and the safety of the state.
    • Section 47 - Employment of Additional Police:
      1. Allows the Commissioner or Superintendent to assign more police officers on request.
      2. The person requesting must cover the cost.
      3. Police are under the authority of the police department.
      4. The person can request their withdrawal after a month.
    • Section 48 - Employment of Additional Police at Large Works and for Employee Behavior:
      1. Police can be assigned to places with large gatherings or where employee behavior is concerning.
      2. The cost is the responsibility of the entity running the place.
      3. Costs are determined by the government.
    • Section 49 - Recovery of Costs of Additional Police:
      1. Disputes about costs are resolved by the Chief Presidency Magistrate or District Magistrate.
      2. The Collector can recover the amount like land revenue if necessary.
    • Section 50 - Employment of Additional Police in Cases of Special Danger:
      1. Allows the State Government to assign extra police if an area is disturbed or dangerous.
      2. Costs are recovered as taxes imposed on residents or specific groups.
      3. Municipalities may collect this tax with a small additional fee.
      4. The State Government can extend the assignment period if needed.
    • Section 51 - Compensation for Injury by Unlawful Assembly:
      1. Covers compensation for property damage, death, or grievous harm by an unlawful assembly.
      2. The District Magistrate specifies the affected area and date.
      3. Compensation amounts are taxed and collected from residents or specific groups.
      4. Municipalities may collect this tax with a small additional fee.
      5. The District Magistrate can exempt some individuals from paying.
      6. The State Government can review and modify orders.
      7. No civil lawsuits for compensated losses.
    • Section 52 - District Magistrate to Award Compensation:
      1. The District Magistrate decides who gets compensation.
      2. Claims must be made within 45 days and individuals should be blameless in the incident.
      3. Compensation cannot be assigned or seized and is not subject to setoff.
      4. Orders can be revised by the State Government.
    • Section 53 - District Magistrate's Role Under State Government Orders: The District Magistrate acts based on State Government orders.
    • Section 54 - Proportionate Recovery of Costs and Compensation:
      1. Explains how landlords can recover a portion of costs from tenants.
      2. The amount is proportional to the rent.
      3. Recovery can't be done in Greater Bombay during the application of the Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, 1947.
    • Sections 55 and 56: Dispersal and Removal
      1. Section 55 allows authorities to disperse groups or gangs causing danger or alarm in their area.
      2. Section 56 permits the removal of individuals causing alarm, engaged in criminal activities, or involved in offenses against public order.
    • Section 57: Removal of Convicted Persons Section 57 enables the removal of individuals convicted of specific offenses, if they are likely to reoffend.
    • Section 57A: Removal of Beggars Section 57A authorizes the removal of individuals declared as beggars in areas where the relevant act is enforced.
    • Sections 58 and 59: Duration and Due Process
      1. Section 58 specifies the maximum duration for removal orders (up to two years).
      2. Section 59 outlines the due process before issuing removal orders, including providing the person a chance to explain their situation.
    • Sections 60 to 63: Enforcement and Appeals
      1. Sections 60 and 62 detail the enforcement measures if individuals do not comply with removal orders.
      2. Section 61 establishes the finality of orders, except on specific grounds.
      3. Section 63 allows for temporary permissions for re-entry.
    • Section 63A: Control of Assemblies and Uniforms Section 63A permits the prohibition or restriction of meetings, drills, and the wearing of specific uniforms for public order and security reasons.
    • Section 63B: Village Defense Parties
      1. Section 63B authorizes the formation of voluntary Village Defense Parties for protecting villages.
      2. Members are chosen based on suitability and age criteria.
      3. Officers oversee these parties at different levels.
      4. Members and officers receive training and have specific powers while on duty.
      5. They are not disqualified from political roles based on their membership or service in these parties.

    Executive Powers and Duties of the Police

    Chapter VI of the document outlines Executive Powers and Duties of the Police

    Duties of a Police Officer (Section 64):

    Duties of a Police Officer (Section 64):

    • Serve summonses, execute warrants, and follow lawful orders.
    • Gather intelligence on crimes and take steps to prevent or address them.
    • Prevent public nuisances.
    • Promptly apprehend individuals with sufficient reason.
    • Assist other Police Officers when necessary.
    • Carry out duties imposed by the law.

    Power to Enter Places of Public Resort (Section 65):

    • Police Officers can enter places like drinking shops or places frequented by disorderly individuals without a warrant.
    • They can inspect these places to maintain public order.

    Duties of Police Officers towards the Public (Section 66):

    • Provide assistance to disabled or helpless individuals in public.
    • Take charge of intoxicated persons and dangerous or incapacitated lunatics.
    • Ensure the well-being of individuals under arrest or in custody.
    • Conduct searches without unnecessary rudeness or annoyance.
    • Handle women and children with decency and gentleness.
    • Help prevent fire, accidents, and public dangers.

    Police to Regulate Traffic and Public Order (Section 67):

    • Regulate and control traffic in streets, preventing obstructions.
    • Maintain order in streets, public places, and near places of worship.
    • Regulate public bathing, washing, and landing places, preventing overcrowding.

    Conforming to Police Directions (Section 68):

    All persons must follow reasonable directions given by a Police Officer in line with their duties.

    Power to Restrain and Arrest (Sections 69-71):

    • Police Officers can restrain, remove, or arrest persons who resist or refuse to obey directions.
    • They can arrest without a warrant in specific circumstances.

    Enforcement of Orders (Sections 70 and 71):

    Magistrates and Police Officers can enforce orders issued under various sections of the Act, including orders related to public safety and public nuisances.

    Taking Charge of Unclaimed Property (Section 82):

    • Police are responsible for unclaimed property and property left in public places.
    • They may take temporary charge and, in certain areas, hand it over to a Commissioner.

    Dealing with Intestate Property (Sections 83 and 84):

    Procedures for handling intestate property are outlined, involving communication with relevant authorities and potential auctions.

    Proclamation for Claiming Property (Section 85):

    • A proclamation is issued specifying property details, allowing claimants to establish ownership within a specified period.
    • Property of low value or subject to decay may be sold by auction.

    Delivery of Property (Section 86):

    • Property claimed by a rightful owner is returned after deducting incurred expenses.
    • Security may be taken from the recipient.
    • If no claim is made within a specified time, the property goes to the State Government and may be sold by auction.

    Provisions Not Affected (Section 88):

    Certain Acts like the Indian Succession Act or Administrator-General's Act do not apply to intestate property handled under this Act.

    Handling of Stray Cattle (Sections 89-95):

    • Police can take charge of stray cattle and send them to a pound.
    • Owners can claim impounded cattle by paying fees and expenses.
    • Unclaimed cattle may be sold by auction.
    • Rates for pound-fees and expenses are determined by the State Government.
    • Police can inspect and seize false weights and measures.
    • Weight and measure standards must correspond with legal standards.

    Procedure in Certain Cases (Section 96):

    • Magistrates' powers under specific sections of the Code of Criminal Procedure may be exercised by the Commissioner in certain areas.
    • Detention of accused persons is authorized for up to fifteen days by the Presidency Magistrate.
    • Reports from Police Stations are forwarded to the Commissioner in certain areas.

    Superior Police Officer's Duties (Section 97):

    • A superior Police Officer can perform duties assigned to their subordinates.
    • They can take actions to ensure the law is effectively enforced.

    Emergency Duties of Police (Section 98):

    • The State Government can declare a service as essential to the community.
    • Police Officers must obey orders related to this service during the declaration.
    • Orders related to essential services are considered lawful.

Written By: Harshavardhan Prakash Deshmukh, 4th Year Of B.A.LL.B. - Modern Law College, Pune,

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