Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 18:
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), which has been working on issues of better policing and police reform in India for nearly two decades, has urged the Odisha government to refer the Odisha Police Bill 2015, which was introduced in the State Assembly on February 16, to a legislative select committee for further review.
“While it is encouraging that the Odisha government is considering new police legislation, the process must be inclusive, participatory and guided by informed debate and discussion for which a select committee is a good mechanism to facilitate this,” CHRI director Maja Daruwala said in a statement released today.
Reiterating the need for a statewide consultation on the Police Bill, she said it will be a colossal mistake to hurriedly pass the Police Bill into law in the current Assembly session.
“While CHRI notes that the Odisha Police Bill is considerably good, amendments are needed in several areas, firstly to address deviations from the 2006 Supreme Court directives on police reform:
- Greater checks and balances in the process of selection of the DGP are needed, and security of tenure must be laid down
- Security of tenure for key police positions must be more clearly enshrined
- The State Security Commission needs more independent members and the processes to select and remove them have to be better stipulated, and the Commission’s recommendations have to be made binding
- The state-level Police Establishment Board has to be brought into compliance with the Court’s directive
- The security of tenure of officers assigned to Crime Investigation Units must be ensured
- Many improvements are needed to strengthen Police Complaints Authorities which are to be established at both the state and district levels
Amendments are also needed to maximize police accountability for misconduct and aligning the Bill’s provisions to existing penal sanctions:
- Changes are proposed to Clause 61 on Dereliction of Duty by a police officer
- Changes are proposed to Clause 62 on Arrest, Search, Seizure and Violence.
- CHRI also urges that a new police law does not contain the requirement of prior sanction for prosecution of police officers, or at the very least, contain strict provisos as in recommendations by a Parliamentary Select Committee in their report on the Prevention of Torture Bill 2010.
In light of these suggested amendments, and the need for informed deliberation on all aspects of the Bill, CHRI urges all stakeholders, especially legislators, to do everything in their power to ensure extensive debate and discussion on the Bill,” CHRI said in the statement.