LAHORE: The chief secretary has rejected the proposal of establishment of district dispute resolution committees (DDRCs) across the province and this development is being seen an attempt to hamper reforms in the police.
After examining the matter for four months or so, the chief secretary has declared the DDRCs beyond the provisions of law.
Earlier to this, the additional chief secretary (home), the secretary (law) and secretary (prosecution) also put up similar nature critical notes respectively on the summary which was forwarded by Inspector General of Punjab Police Amjad Javed Saleemi.
CS declares it beyond the provisions of law; move is being seen an attempt to hamper reforms in police
Mr Saleemi had drafted the summary seeking approval from Chief Minister Usman Buzdar for establishment of the DDRCs and its implementation through an ordinance, an official told Dawn.
He said apparently the CM endorsed observations of the chief secretary and heads of the other government institutions and referred the matter to the cabinet committee.
The [cabinet] committee after going through it [in detail] raised objections and forwarded the case to a sub-committee on law and order headed by Law Minister Raja Basharat to revisit the same.
Consequently, the ‘procedural hiccups’ and ‘bureaucratic bottlenecks’ hampered the process as the case of establishment of DDRCs is still lying pending in the offices of the concerned authorities for approval even after a lapse of four months or so.
Talking about its significance, the official said the establishment of DDRCs was a major component of the police reforms to make it a public service institution rather than “a government body.”
He said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had tasked the Punjab IGP with replicating the set-up as provided under Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act 2017.
The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan had also supported the concept of the DDRCs while launching the Police Reforms Committee’s report — “Police Reforms: Way Forward” — in January this year with a sole purpose of easing burden on courts all over the country.
Retired Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar had launched the report while a steering committee headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, (now CJP) had also worked on the implementation of the recommendations.
In the summary, Mr Saleemi had pleaded that in the wake of excessively over-burdened segments of criminal justice system i.e courts and police, petty issues especially the non-cognisable offences, sometimes become a long and expensive tug of war among the parties.
“There is an urgent need for introducing a dynamic low-cost intervention through alternate dispute resolution in the form of the district dispute resolution committees,” reads the summary.
He further stated that a detailed draft on the rationale, functions, structure including code of ethics for committee members etc was prepared highlighting its significance, including salient features of these committees.
“A draft amendment regarding insertion of Article 168-A in the existing Police Order 2002, for constitution of DDRCs at district, sub-division or police station level has been placed for approval,” the summary reads.
Besides giving reference of KP Police Act 2017, the IGP Punjab also referred the sections 96, 97, 98 and 99 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 which had introduced the concept of panchayat (village council) after it was vetted by the law department.
The law secretary objected to the summary stating, “The settlement of all cases, though they may be of petty nature, by the committee constituted by the Provincial Police Officer may travel beyond the provisions contained in the Section 345 and thereby coming to be repugnant to them and thus void in terms of Article 142 (b) read with Article 143 of the Constitution.”
Prosecution Secretary Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry observed that the proposed amendment in the Police Order 2002 might contradict the procedure contained in Cr.P.C or create legal complications.
“The Section 154 of the Cr.P.C provides that an officer in-charge of a police station is bound to register an FIR where information relating to the commission of a cognisable offence is received,” states Mr Chaudhry.
He further stated that Section 155 of the Cr.P.C provides that whenever an information regarding commission of a non-congisable offence is given to an officer in-charge of a police station, he/she shall enter the substance of such information into a book and refer the information to the magistrate for seeking his permission for investigation.
“The upshot is that police on receipt of any complaint is bound to proceed under sections 154 or 155 of the Code as the case may be and referral of the matter to the district dispute resolution committees may delay registration of FIR and investigation leading to the legal complications,” observed the secretary (prosecution).
Additional chief secretary (home) retired Capt Fazeel Asghar categorically rejected the proposal stating, “The home department does not support the proposal of IGP/PPO Punjab.”
Mr Asghar said let the [cabinet] committee on legislative business consider the matter holistically and give final shape to the proposal prior to placing it before the cabinet.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2019