Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 27:
While the Odisha government has announced to replace its 150-year-old Police Act with the new Odisha Police Bill-2013 to reform the police administration, the fact remains that the new Bill is meant to hoodwink the Supreme Court.
Going by the opinion of senior bureaucrats and police officers, the new Police Bill, approved by the state government in the recent cabinet meeting, is nothing but the proverbial ‘old wine in new bottle’.
It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court in 2008 had asked all the states to frame new Police Act as per the recommendation of the National Police Commission.
While most of the states have framed news Police Act as per the apex court directive, Odisha is yet to frame any such Act till date.
Aware that it would be liable to contempt of court, the state government has approved the new Police Bill in a hurry in the state cabinet recently before the apex court takes up hearing over the issue so that it can come up with a plea that the new Bill would not take much time to be passed in the State Assembly.
The objective of the Supreme Court directive to frame new Police Act was to keep the state police out of political interference.
Though the state government had tabled the Bill in the Parliament, the Bill could not be passed due to the protest by the Opposition alleging that the government had not incorporated this important clause in the Bill.
The National Police Commission had made some major recommendations in the new Police Bill i.e., taking away the supervisory powers of the State Police and entrusting them to the State Security Commission, an autonomous body which will have the chief minister, leader of the Opposition and others as its members.
Besides, the Commission had also recommended that the tenure of the Director General of Police (DGP) will be two years. Besides, it had also recommended formation of an independent committee for the appointment of the DGP.
However, the state government has managed to avoid these recommendations in its newly approved draft Bill in the state cabinet.
As per the provisions in the new draft Bill, though the state has formed State Security Commission to monitor the activity of the State Police, there is no provision to include the leader of the Opposition in the said Commission.
The State Security Commission will be led by chief minister as its chairman while the Odisha State Human Rights Commission, chief secretary, DGP and Home secretary will be the other members.
The intention of the state government not to include the leader of the Opposition as the member of the Commission is that the chief minister will have a final say on the functioning of the Commission as well the State Police administration.
As regards the appointment of the DGP, the new draft Bill has managed to skip the recommendation of the National Police Commission.
Though the Bill has agreed to the recommendation of the Commission regarding the two-year tenure for the DGP, it has made a provision that the DGP can be transferred to any post under the Centre and the State government in the same rank. This clearly indicates that the DGP can be posted as the DGP, Home Guard or any post in the State Police department.
Not only this, the state government has deliberately made a provision in the new Bill to appoint a senior police officer in the rank of DGP few days before his retirement so that it can raise his service tenure by two years.
Apart from this, the new draft Bill has no provision on the selection of the DGP from three senior police officers.
Besides, as against the recommendation of the National Police Commission for formation of a State Grievance Cell to hear the complaints against the police, the new draft Bill has proposed that the complaints would be heard by the Lokpal.