POLICE REFORMS
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Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004 will allow the police to serve the people efficiently with adequate check by the public institutions


From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI,
 Islamabad

Dec 13 - 19, 2004
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The Police Order 2002 promulgated in the year 2002 as a part of police reforms programme could not make any headway because of its inherent lacunas but now it has been amended to make it workable and effective. It is being hoped that the amended law will go along in changing police culture in the country.

The Police Order 2002, promulgated on August 14, 2002 with a big fanfare sought to replace the out molded law inherited from the British colonial rule, the Police Act of 1861, enacted to rule the natives. It was a pity that it took our rulers 55 years to realize that these colonial objectives were no more relevant and desirable and that we should frame a new law to serve the people instead of ruling them. The police order 2002 was framed to convert the police into a citizen and people force dedicated to uphold the law without fear or favour while being mindful of the citizen's rights. It was indeed a big task to change the colonial mindset of our police metamorphoses since independence into a criminal one which the citizen fear and an intimidated by. The Police Act 2002 not only hit at the police lordship it also did not suit the political supporters who used this force for terrorizing their opponents.

The law could not be implemented as the provincial governments have been dragging their feet on implementing the new law because the autonomy envisaged in the Police Order 2002, would effectively remove the police from the control of politicians. That will serve to remove one canker the use of the police for partisan political purposes by every successive government against its opponents. When the police is freed of this politically oppressive task, it may be better placed to concentrate on its real function fighting crime and upholding the law. However, what autonomy will not serve to do is altering the citizen's perception of the police as corrupt, inefficient, brutal and oppressive. In fact, if autonomy removes the police from the control and scrutiny of provincial governments, virtually rendering the force a law unto itself, this may worsen the tendency to prey upon the citizen.

After a high level meeting in Islamabad in March last, President General Pervez Musharraf and then Prime Minister Zafarulllah Khan Jamali set a new deadline of August 14, 2004 for the implementation in letter and spirit of the Police Order 2002. The setting of a new deadline was necessitated by the objections raised against the new law and the foot dragging in its implementation restored to by the provincial governments. The (amended) Police Order 2002 promulgated by President General Pervez Musharraf on Thursday last in accordance with the proposals and suggestions of the people which will put an end to the colonial form of police. According to details of the promulgated Police Order 2002, it would introduce local democracy through a legally institutionalized mechanism of checks and balances over the police at the local level. The amendments have given it a final shape and have made the Police Order 2002 more effective.

In the past, the legal structure did not provide any institutionalized mechanism for the public to have a right or say in the functioning of local administration especially the police and a culture of pleading for favours (Sifarish) rather than exercising legal rights had conditioned the political culture and administrative functioning. The amended Police Order 2002 now would check the misuse of powers by the police. The police officers at the district level and public safety committees are the first post colonial representative bodies empowered with the necessary legal authority to check the functioning of the executive relationship between the Zila Nazam and the police.

 

 

A spokesman of NRB said the contention that including the MNAs and MPAs in the District Public Safety Commission, the police have been politicized and the spirit of Police Order has been diluted, was baseless and a part of propaganda against an effort which aims at providing relief to the common man through an effective check and balance system over the police. The composition of the District Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission has been changed to accommodate the suggestions of the provincial governments. This change will strengthen the commissions and improve democratic control over the police.

A careful reading of the Police Order 2002 reveals that the MNAs and MPAs are part of the Provincial and National Public Safety Commission and their inclusion in the commissions is in line with the original philosophy of devolution. The NRB spokesman said the presence of MNAs and MPAs from the opposition and independent members selected through a transparent mechanism will create an environment in which police will operate as a natural institution and not as the coercive arm of the government.

Changes introduced through the Police Order (Amendment) ordinance, 2004 will allow the police to serve the people efficiently with adequate check by the public institutions. The amendments will improve the working of police and the public institutions created under the Police Order 2002 and ensure full implementation of the order. Under this Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance, 2004 various terminologies have been clarified by adding definitions in Article 2 of the Order.

The District Public Safety Commissions have been further empowered to deal with the complaints against police as well. The commissions have been provided the powers of a civil court for summoning, requisitioning the witnesses and relevant record. This will enable these institutions to play an effective role in providing relief to the public against police excesses and neglect. The commission has been renamed as "District Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission". Fact-finding inquiry conducted by a District Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission shall be admissible in evidence before a court, tribunal or an authority. The composition of the District Public Safety and Police Complaints Commissions have been revised to include MNAs/MPAs from the district concerned. The Provincial Police Complaints Authority has been merged with the Provincial Public Safety Commission. The Commission has been re-named as Provincial Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission respectively.

The finalization of amendments in the Police Order has paved the way for making the District Public Safety and Police Complaints Commissions fully functional. The Government of Pakistan on the recommendation of the NRB has already agreed to earmark at least Rs. 2 billion for meeting immediate requirements of the public institutions as well as of the regular police force.

During the coming weeks and months the efforts by the provincial governments and the federal government shall focus on the institutional strengthening and capacity building of the public institutions. A meeting of the National Implementation Body (NIB) will be convened shortly to review the progress on implementation of Police Order 2002. The NIB will finalize the transition plan for speedy implementation of the Police Order 2002 in letter and spirit. The consensus amendments will expedite the implementation of the Police Order to the objectives of making the police an efficient and service-oriented force. The force will be a accountable to the people through public institutions. The Ordinance promulgated on 25th November 2004 by President General Pervez Musharraf will be processed according to rules of business of Government of Pakistan in the stipulated timeframe as a Bill to the National Assembly.