Clipping of PEB's wings draws criticism from Oppn

Clipping of PEB's wings draws criticism from Oppn

The State government’s decision to curtail the authority of the Police Establishment Board (PEB) by giving the government complete authority to transfer police officers above the rank of additional superintendent has drawn flak from Opposition members in the Legislative Council.

The Council, on Tuesday, was witness to a heated debate over the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill, 2013, when it came up for consideration in the House.

The Assembly had passed the bill on Monday. The bill seeks to remove the powers of transfer from the PEB, and give the government complete authority to finalise transfers of senior police officers across the State.

Janata Dal (Secular) member, M C Nanaiah, castigated the government over the issue and accused it of bringing the bill forward without proper forethought. “Placing the complete authority of transfers in the hands of the government is ill-advised,” he said. “The Police department should be devoid of political interference.”

 The previous government had suggested a similiar amendment to the Karnataka Police Act, 1963, only to withdraw the proposal after better sense prevailed. “The bill is contradicting the Supreme Court ruling of September 2006, which asks the PEB to have total control over the transfer of officers,” Nanaiah pointed out.

The government is currently empowered to modify the PEB’s decisions only in exceptional cases. The Bill seeks to empower the government to transfer officers of and above the rank of additional superintendent within a year of a case of misconduct, negligence or an act of moral turpitude — in the opinion of the government — being registered against the officer.

MLCs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), G Madhusudhan, Ganesh Karnik, B J Puttuswamy and K B Shanappa all sought to have the government re-examine the amendment and entreated it not to make a hasty decision.

Madhusudhan said that the amendment will have a detrimental effect on the morale of the Police department, who will be influenced by sitting legislators from the ruling party. “The morale of the honest personnel will sink,” he said. “And why shouldn’t it? The government can now execute transfer orders according to its whims and fancies”
His party colleague, Shanappa, suggested the government to keep the bill in abeyance.

Home Minister defends

Home Minister K J George, however, maintained that the Bill is required to keep a hold over the transfer of key postings in the Police department. “We are faced with situations where senior police officers get court stay orders in key postings,” he said. “One example of this was the controversy surrounding the appointment of the chief of the Anti-Naxal Force (ANF). This hampers the government functioning in such situations and is thus required for us to hold the power to transfer personnel.”

Unsatisfied with this response, BJP legislators staged a walkout, and later the bill was passed.

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