KARACHI: Lawmakers belonging to the treasury and opposition sides met again on Wednesday to review the revival of the Police Order, 2002 and discussed threadbare the formation of a public safety commission to maintain checks and balances on police.

The meeting of a select committee of the Sindh Assembly to review the proposed repeal of the colonial-era Police Act of 1861 and revival of the Police Order was held in the assembly building.

“Basically, a law that facilitates people and is implemented [for] the benefit of the people is something that should be enforced and implemented,” Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu told reporters.

Mr Rahu, who is the convener of the select committee, said the revival of the law, which was originally promulgated by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, was not aimed at stripping the police of powers by the provincial government.

Minister Rahu says the govt and opposition agreed to end political interference in police business

“Such an impression is totally wrong. The Sindh government is not making the inspector general of police powerless; instead, the new law would ensure that police serve the people of Sindh better,” he said.

Mr Rahu said the provincial government had consulted the representatives of civil society and took them and the IG police on board. “We have included the recommendations that have been furnished by them in our report.”

He said the new legislation would introduce checks and balances and mitigate unending public complaints.

He said no law was being made against the orders of the court.

“The superior judiciary has also given such a power to the assembly and not the government and we are making decisions in the light of the directives of the court,” he said, adding: “The Sindh government desires that the police should be subservient to the people and their elected representatives.”

He said the Police Order, 2002 was not being passed in its original shape, as amendments were being made to maintain “balance”.

“We will remove all anti-people clauses from the original 2002 law. We are all agreed that there should be no political interference in the functioning of the police,” Mr Rahu said. “The Sindh government and the opposition are on the same page on this issue.”

Later, a government spokesperson told reporters that formation of the public safety commission was under consideration for maintaining checks and balances on police.

He also rejected an impression that the government wanted to usurp powers of police.

“It is also incorrect that powers of transfers and postings in police will rest with one person in the new police law. The transfers and postings in police will be done in consultation with the Sindh chief minister and the IGP,” said CM’s Information Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab.

He said the public safety commission would comprise of 12 members as mentioned in the Police Order, 2002.

He said the same law was also in practice in Punjab. “It can also be in operation in Sindh.”

He said that the proposed bill contained three key points — independence, setting up of a safety commission and formation of committees on district and provincial levels.

He said police would be accountable to the commission.

He said the new law would come into force in 30 days after its passage from the provincial legislature.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2019