Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 30:
Many senior members from Congress and BJP have asked the state government to make the Odisha Police Bill, 2015 more people-friendly based on the guidelines of the Supreme Court.
“The Bill has not been prepared in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Court. This is going to be beneficial for the police and administration, but the public is not going to get any benefit out of this legislation. The government needs to take concrete steps to make the bill more people-friendly,” said Leader of Opposition in Odisha Assembly Narasingha Mishra, speaking at a function organized by Civil Society Forum on Human Rights (CSFHR) in the city on Wednesday.
“The bill needs to be prepared only after extensive consultation with people from all sections of the society. We are going to oppose it in the assembly if we do not find it people-friendly,” he warned.
Congress, the main opposition party in the state Assembly, has long alleged that even though there is a provision for constitution of a security commission in the Bill, there is no provision for inclusion of the Leader of Opposition in it.
Congress has the support of BJP on this issue, as evident from the speeches by BJP MLA Pradeep Purohit and Vice President Pratap Sarangi in the meeting chaired by former Finance Minister Panchanan Kanungo. BJP had earlier stood by the Congress in opposing the bill when it was introduced on the floor of the House during the budget session of the assembly earlier this year.
The speakers at the CSFHR went on to demand publication of the Bill in the Odisha government portal, formation of a select committee for analysis, taking suggestions from people from the grassroots, employing a DG from the three senior most police officers, formation of a separate committee for member selection, formation of police complaint authority at district and state levels, employment of a retired high court judge as the head of the state level complaint cell and district level retired judges at district levels and exclusion of section 51(3), 63(1), 63(2) from the Bill.
The opposition parties have been saying that while the apex court had directed adoption of one of the two models – the Ribeiro Committee and the Sorabjee Committee – recommended by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), neither of the two models has been taken into consideration by the state government in formulating the Bill.
They have also pointed out that the Model Police Act-2006 prepared by the Central government after the Supreme Court directive, has a provision for constitution of a State Police Board, which will be headed by the Home Minister and Leader of the Opposition with other members in it, within six months of bringing the new police bill. However, this provision of the model police bill 2006 has found no place in the Odisha Police Bill, 2015.
It may be noted that the Bill, which has already been approved by the Cabinet, seeks to consolidate the provisions of the Police Act, 1861 and Odisha State Armed Police Act, 1946 in a single legislation for better police administration in the State.
It proposes the creation of a Criminal Investigation Organisation whose focus will be on criminal investigation. An officer of the rank of IGP will be in its charge. For tackling terrorism and providing security of VIPs, a separate organization named as the State Intelligence Organisation will be constituted.
Besides, it offers a fixed tenure of at least two years for Director General of Police (DGP) and other key police functionaries to ensure autonomy through security of tenure. It also aims at streamlining the appointment and transfer process.
As per the Bill, the state would be divided into several police ranges and each range will be divided into police districts that will be distinct from revenue districts. Each district will be divided into police sub-divisions with a specified number of police stations.
It also provides for creation of a State Police Complaint Authority at the state-level to look into complaints of grave misconduct against police officers of the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP) and above.