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Draft law empowers KP police chief, shrinks role of public safety bodies

Draft law empowers KP police chief, shrinks role of public safety bodies

PESHAWAR: A cabinet committee of the provincial government has finalised the draft of the proposed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act 2016 recommending increase in the provincial police chief’s powers and reduction in the role of public safety bodies introduced under the Police Order 2002.

The move to introduce the new police law has already generated a controversy, as the province’s civilian bureaucracy and police are engaged in a tug of war over powers and controls over the department.

Both sides have prepared separate drafts and a cabinet committee consisting of ministers and officials from both departments has reviewed both the drafts and prepared its recommendations.

“We have sent our recommendations to the chief minister,” Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli, KP minister for labour and mineral development, who is also a member of the cabinet committee, told Dawn.

Mrs. Tahirkheli said that the draft they have reviewed would be placed before the cabinet for approval.

A comparison of both drafts shows the KP home department’s draft was more or less a copy of the Police Order 2002, while the one submitted has some marked differences from the police order, by giving police chief more powers and cutting the powers of safety bodies.

The procedure of the police chief’s appointment has been kept the same as they’re in the Police Order 2002 under which the provincial government from a panel of three officers recommended by the federal government posts a police officer as the IGP.

However, the power for the premature transfer or repatriation of the police chief has been given to the provincial government under the proposed law unlike the current one.

Under the Police Order, the power was available to the Provincial Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission.

The proposed law says the nomenclature of the provincial police officer (PPO) used in the order for the police chief has been reverted to the inspector general of police.

Under it, the police chief’s powers to appoint capital city police officer and district police officers has been increased in contrast to the 2002 police order, wherein the IGP was authorised to make these postings after the approval of the government.

Section 20 of the proposed act has done away with the government’s approval for the appointment and has fully authorised the police chief to appoint the CCPO and DPOs on his own.

Under the proposed law, the powers of the powerful provincial public safety commission, which under the police order is empowered to repatriate police chief have been considerably slashed under the proposed law. In future, this power will be given to the government.

The body will be able take cognisance of the police’s excesses but won’t probe matters relating to investigations of regional police officers and DPOs.

Under the police order, the provincial body was empowered to take cognisance of cases of police neglect, abuse of authority and conduct prejudicial to public interest against head of district police even on its own has now been stripped of this power and now only can conduct an inquiry against a district head on a resolution passed by district assembly for transfer of DPO.

Under the proposed act, commission upon receiving a complaint will refer it to IGP, who shall hold inquiry through relevant authorities within a period of 21 days. However, in case commission is not satisfied with the report, the chairman of the commission directs its enquiry panel to enquire and gave final report and its decision will be communicated to the relevant competent authority for appropriate action within 30 days.

In contrast to the police order, where the job of accountability was vested in the safety bodies, the new law proposes to set up parallel regional police complaint authorities to enquire into complaints against all police officials up to the rank of ASP or DSP.

In a bid to balance the police chief’s powers, the draft also provided some powers for the chief minister, who will hold and preside over periodical meetings on law and order to formulate policy and oversight.

The chief minister may also order an inquiry against a police officer for excess, neglect and abuse of authority.

Also counter militancy and terrorism has been included in police duties, besides binding the Special Branch to report to the police chief. Currently, it reports to the chief minister.

A senior government official told Dawn that an agreement had been reached over the police draft by giving some powers to the safety bodies and that it had the blessings of the PTI chief as well.

He however said it was unlikely to end the tug of war as the bureaucracy was not likely to go for it while the police won’t yield to bureaucratic control.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2016

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