Assembly nod for bill restoring police transfer powers to govt

The Legislative Assembly on Monday approved the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2013, which seeks to restore the power of transferring and promoting senior police officers back to the State government.

Besides, the bill seeks to re-constitute the Police Establishment Board (PEB). The Board, if the bill becomes an Act, will have the DG&IGP as chairman and three senior police officers not below the rank of ADGP as members. Currently, the Act says the three senior-most officers shall be the members. This will provide choice to the government to pick any officer of the ADGP rank as Board members.

The bill, which was piloted by Home Minister K J George, also seeks to completely withdraw the Board's powers to make recommendations to the government in posting and transfering officers above the rank of Additional Superintendent of Police. Besides, the government can modify any decision of the Board after citing a valid reason.

Currently, the government is empowered to modify the Board's decisions only in exceptional cases. The bill also seeks to empower the government to transfer officers of and above ASP rank within one year of posting for misconduct or negligence or an act of moral turpitude in the opinion of the government.

‘Political interference’

The BJP and the JD(S) opposed the bill saying that it will lead to political interference in transfer and posting of police officers. Former Home Minister R Ashoka (BJP) said the proposed amendment was in violation of the Supreme Court direction on bringing in reforms in the police department by ending political interference.

“The amendment bill defeats the very purpose of establishing the Board. It will restore all powers of transferring and posting officers to the government. It is against the apex court order, and it is unlikely to stand legal scrutiny, if challenged,” he warned.
Y S V Datta of the JD(S) said the government will have powers to appoint any ADGP rank officer of its choice as members of the Board. There is every likelihood of misusing the proposed amendments, he added.

George, however, defended the bill saying it will enable the government to post honest officers. “The government is accountable to people and the House. The Board is not. How can the government have control over the system if all transfers are done by the Board?,” he asked. Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T B Jayachandra said the bill does not violate the apex court direction. The bill is yet to be passed in the Legislative Council.

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