PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police department has opposed the amendment proposed by the home and tribal affairs department to the KP Police Act, 2017, regarding the appointment of civil servants as the secretaries of the public safety bodies.
Interestingly, the proposed amendment has already been approved by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak.
Sources told Dawn that even more than a year after the promulgation of the KP Police Act 2017, the task of setting up the public safety commissions at the provincial and district levels and regional police complaint authorities had been in limbo for one reason or the other.
Home department asks chief secretary to ‘sort out’ the matter
They said the district public safety and police complaints commissions had so far been set up in just 10 of the total of 26 districts of the province.
However, the formation of safety commissions in the rest of the districts, provincial level and RPCAs are nowhere in sight as scrutiny committees formed to select the members have yet to start their work despite several reminders during the last three months.
“It seems that nobody wants checks on the police,” said a source requesting anonymity.
The source said the police’s opposition to the amendments in the KP Police Act, 2017, which was approved by the chief minister a couple of weeks ago, had further complicated the issue.
The documents available with Dawn show that the home and tribal affairs department had moved a summary calling for amendments to sections 63 (2), 65(2) and 71(2) of the KP Police Act, which provide for the contractual hiring for the positions of secretaries of RPCAs, provincial and district public safety commissions.
A document noted that under the Police Order 2002, the posts of secretaries at district level were filled by transfer from amongst the officers of All Pakistan Unified Group, PMS in BPS-18.
It said to maintain government writ over these statutory bodies including provincial and district safety commissions and RPCAs pertaining to administration, financial matters and coordination with other government institutions, amendments are proposed to same sections of the KP Police Act 2017.
The amendment proposed that the secretariat of the provincial commission be headed by an officer not below BS-20, district commission by not an officer of below BS-17 and PRCA secretariat be headed by an officer of BS-18 and they would be appointed by the provincial government.
A KP police letter issued on March 2 and available with Dawn noted that an earlier meeting chaired by the chief minister had agreed that the police department would be engaged and consulted on issue of amendments relating to the posting of secretaries. “However, the summary to the chief minister was moved without due consultation of the police department,” the letter noted.
The letter noted that police law envisages making the police apolitical and accountable to the people through democratic institutions and civilian oversight bodies. “The establishment and composition of various external oversight bodies including provincial and district public safety commissions and RPCAs under the Police Act clearly specify that bodies will not be under any political or bureaucratic control to ensure their neutrality and independence,” it said.
It said that the appointment of the serving civil servants as secretaries to the commissions and RPCAs would be against the very spirit of the neutrality and independence of the oversight bodies.
“The police act envisaged private professionals including retired government servants as secretaries on contract basis, independently selected by the concerned scrutiny committee so that they could run the affairs of the commission ensuring the complete impartiality,” it said, adding that posting civil servants as secretaries would entail bureaucratic control over the bodies instead of the democratic control provided by the act.
It said that contention that contractual employees cannot exercise the functions of drawing disbursing officers would be explained through rules of relevant public safety bodies.
Police department proposed that instead of the amending the law, government may along with contractual secretaries can post regular employees of BPS-17 and BPS-18 as drawing and disbursement officers for the commissions and RPCAs.
It said that at this stage when law has yet to be fully implemented on ground, there seems to be no plausible reason to amend it without first testing it.
“It is strongly recommended that amendment proposed may be dropped and police act be implemented in letter and spirit,” the letter said, adding that the implementation commissioner can propose amendments if issues crop up during the implementation process.
Curiously, in another letter written on Feb 2, the KP police had said, the “appointment of secretaries of the commission is the prerogative of the government.”
Sources told Dawn that after the police’s opposition to the amendments, the home department had moved a note to the chief secretary asking him to sort out the matter.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2018