‘Truncated’ role of police in new scheme of things

Published September 26, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a go-ahead to the home departments to ‘take over control of the police’ in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad.  — AFP/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a go-ahead to the home departments to ‘take over control of the police’ in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a go-ahead to the home departments to ‘take over control of the police’ in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad.

Under the new system, the major functions of the police would be performed by the deputy commissioners (DCs) who have been given judicial powers of 22A and 22B besides authority of inspections of police stations that earlier were sole discretion of the police.

“A new parallel police force will be raised that shall be under the control of the DCs of the two provinces and Islamabad. The police officers shall be answerable to the DCs in crime control, law & order and other public complaints,” say documents.

Major functions of the force will be performed by DCs

A senior official told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran Khan had formed a committee headed by the interior secretary to draft a proposal of police reforms. He said the chief secretaries and provincial police officers of Punjab and KP besides other federal government officers were on the committee.

The federal government, he said, after seeking approval from the PM directed the provincial authorities to implement the plan in letter and spirit.

According to the documents, the police would function under the DCs while the police officers posted for field assignments would have to get certification of ability before carrying out inspections of the police stations. The police officers include regional police officers, district police officers and city police officers besides those appointed in the provincial capitals.

“The public safety commissions and the police complaint authorities shall stand abolished in the two provinces and Islamabad. A new external and internal accountability mechanism of the police has also been furnished in the system while giving prime role to the government officers including those from the home departments.

“The powers of the provincial police officers have been reduced in making appointments of the police officers at various levels. These powers have been transferred to a high level search committee which shall be formed at provincial level.

“The Committee shall comprise a director general and up to five directors while a director must be a retired police officer, a prosecutor, a lawyer and a civil servant with significant experience and one member may be a layperson.

“The regional complaint authority shall have same composition at regional level (one director and five deputy directors).”

The documents further say the police complaint authority shall have legal, police and administrative expertise to look into cases of police misconduct. “It shall be an autonomous body with the powers to undertake investigations/inquire directly in case of death and serious injury due to police action. For the purpose, it has been recommended that the Police Order/act shall be amended accordingly besides proposing federal government to bring a law separately.”

The provincial police complaint authority shall be established at the provincial level with regional presence.

Internal Accountability:

Under new system, all personnel posted in the internal inspection units must be certified government and provincial police officers (PPO) to lay down framework of certification in consultation with all stakeholders. The internal accountability branch will be placed under Additional IG (IGP for compliance).

External Accountability Mechanism:

The Public Safety Commissions will be abolished and independent external inspectorates established with following mandate:

The inspectorates must be established by law (Search Committees). These should comprise a director general and up to seven chief inspectors. At least one chief inspector must be a retired police officer, a prosecutor, a lawyer, a civil servant and an auditor with significant experience; one chief inspector may be a lay person.

Yearly inspection schedule will be finalised in consultation with PPO and notified by the Inspectorate.

External Accountability and Oversight:

A Democratic Accountability shall be exercised by the cabinet sub-committee on law and order. According to the TORs, the committee shall decide/make recommendations regarding any matter related to law and order/internal security and criminal justice.

It shall make decisions regarding funds allocated to it for purposes of Law and Order, initiatives and reforms in the Criminal Justice System.

The station house officer will be declared drawing and disbursing officer and amendments to rules have been proposed.

Special Branches under Chief Ministers:

The Special Branch shall be placed directly under the chief minister. Earlier, all the special branches directly worked under the IGP and formed the only reporting agency to the government.

According to the documents, all officials were from police and hardly reported illegal detentions/arrests/raids/encounters (extra-judicial killings) to the government. Their placement under the chief minister will give them more autonomy and freedom of reporting of police excesses.

It has been directed that there should be a separate recruitment of qualified civilian cadre besides police officers in the IB and the ISI.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2019

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