State's draft police reforms bill not in consonance with SC orders


 Around 12 other states have already  “circumvented” the apex court’s directives passed on police reforms following its judgment of September 22, 2006 in Prakash Singh and Others vs Union of India and Others.

Speaking to Deccan Herald on the progress of the implementation of the Supreme Court orders, former UP Director General of Police Prakash Singh (the original petitioner in the case) said “so far progress has been very slow with 12 states circumventing the court orders and enacting legislation in a great hurry.”

Singh said the Centre was not keen to implement  police reforms even after over three decades of persistent demands. The states, including Karnataka, have apparently followed the Centre in their “half-hearted”  implementation of the court directives.

Commonwealth Human Rights initiative (CHIRI), an international organisation, consulted by  the Sorabjee panel, feels the Karnataka government’s Draft Bill on Police Boards (to insulate police from political pressure) would be constituted three months after the Bill is passed even though the court wanted it to be set up immediately. 

Unwarranted influence

The CHIRI says the Karnataka Draft Police Bill (Section 49) does not specifically mention a purpose of the Board expressly articulated in the Supreme Court directive, which is “to ensure that the State government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State police.”

“Moreover, there is no mention in the Draft Bill whether the State Police Board will have binding powers. This violates the SC directive which clearly states that “the recommendations of this Commission shall be binding on the State Government,”according CHIRI.

In violation of directives

On the court directive on two-year fixed tenure for DGPs, the Karnataka Draft Police Bill, according to CHIRI,  “violates the Supreme Court directive as it provides the DGP a two-year tenure subject to the normal date of superannuation.”

The SC directive calls for minimum tenure independent of the date of superannuation.
The directive on the creation of special investigation cell and separating law and order from investigation duties has been assured by Karnataka at the state level but not at the district level by saying“the Commissioner or District Superintendent of Police may create special Investigation Cells in his jurisdiction as and when required.”  

CHIRI, however, is appreciative of several provisions of the draft Bill, including creating a Police Accountability Authority at the state and district levels to inquire into complaints against police personnel.

“On paper, Karnataka has partially complied with what the SC directed but the actual ground level implementation is yet to happen. Besides, there has been little public debate or consultation around the draft Bill”, said Navaz Kotwal, CHIRI programme coordinator on police reforms.

CHIRI has sent its own report on the Karnataka Draft Police Bill to the State Government.
“The State DGP has assured changes. The Bill may go to the select committee after its introduction, she said.

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