Sindh govt asked to introduce alternative dispute resolution for petty issues

Updated February 23, 2020

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Police authorities have proposed an amendment in the existing police law to introduce an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism to address minor offences and social problems, which sometimes lead to heinous crimes, it emerged on Saturday. — AFP/File
Police authorities have proposed an amendment in the existing police law to introduce an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism to address minor offences and social problems, which sometimes lead to heinous crimes, it emerged on Saturday. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Police authorities have proposed an amendment in the existing police law to introduce an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism to address minor offences and social problems, which sometimes lead to heinous crimes, it emerged on Saturday.

If the suggested amendment in the law was carried out, dispute resolution committees (DRCs) would be established in all police stations across Sindh comprising 21 members each from a cross section of the society to resolve “non-cognizable offences through negotiation of the conflicting parties with their mutual consent”.

Inspector General of Police Dr Syed Kaleem Imam told Dawn that he had sent a summary to the home department asking the government to amend the police law.

He believed that majority of the cases reported to the police were non-cognizable and civil in nature, which sometimes led to crimes. If these issues triggered by small causes were addressed through the ADR, it would likely reduce a huge burden on police and courts as well, he said.

IGP has sent a summary to the home department for bringing an amendment to existing police law

He opined that this mechanism through prompt settlement of petty disputes might also generate a positive change in the thana culture.

The police chief pointed out that this ADR system had already been introduced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad Capital Territory recently.

According to the summary, “This [ADR] system involves the role of police as a facilitator, arranging mediation between contesting parties and helping them in reaching a peaceful resolution of a conflict.”

Two basic advantages of the proposed ADR mechanism are saving people from getting embroiled in long legal process as their conflicts get resolved at the police station level through mediation without entering into formal legal process as well as saving energies/resources of police as the petty issues like civil matters, even minor cognizable cases would get resolved through intervention of notables, thus leaving police to focus more on genuine policing challenges like prevention of heinous crimes, terrorism and maintenance of law and order.

The summary said realising the utility of the ADR system, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had introduced an amendment (Article 168-A) of the KPK Police Order (Amendment) Act 2015 and successfully implemented this system.

Similarly, Punjab is also said to be in the process of incorporating the ADR in the Police Order 2002 and an amendment has been sent to the government for legislation there.

The Sindh police suggested to the provincial government that considerable efforts of police were currently utilised in addressing non-cognizable/minor complaints. However, in the presence of ADR, these can be diverted to other means of resolution, thus saving precious man-hours of the police force.

Besides, the inclusion of community through a formal/structured mechanism will generate a sense of participation for the public; thus spreading the spirit of community policing as well.

The IGP requested Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to bring an amendment to make ADR a part of police law.

A draft of the proposed amendment in the existing police law has also been submitted to the provincial authorities.

It said the police stations were dealing with three categories of work including public facilitation services, civil/minor disputes of citizens and police crimes prevention, maintenance of law and order and investigation of heinous crimes.

If petty issues and offences of civil or minor nature were addressed through the ADR, police stations may focus more towards the challenges of prevention and detection of heinous crimes and terrorism, it added.

The summary also said that courts were also “overburdened and under-resourced” and when petty issues involving non-cognizable offences got forwarded to civil courts from police, the involved parties found themselves entangled in a long and expensive process.

“This delay in dispensation of justice causes a feeling of frustration, humiliation and despondency,” it added.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2020