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June 14, 2019

PA passes amended bill to revive Police Order 2002


June 14, 2019

The Sindh Assembly on Thursday once more passed a bill to revive the Police Order 2002 and repeal the Police Act 1861, with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah saying the bill is not aimed at wresting back the control of the police but rather it would restore the much-needed government’s oversight of the force to maintain law and order in the province.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla presented the bill in the house for reconsideration after it was sent back to the assembly by Governor Imran Ismail. The assembly in its last session on May 18 had passed the bill for the first time for reviving the Police Order 2002 but later the governor did not give his assent to it and sent it back to the house for reconsideration.

The house on Thursday incorporated several amendments in the bill before its passage by the house. Several changed were brought into the law keeping in view the observations of the governor.

The most important amendment is related to the security of the tenure of the inspector general of police and the government passing the bill for the second time agreed to do away with its unilateral powers to remove Sindh’s top cop before the completion of his tenure.

The amendment inserted in the bill will now make it binding upon the government to consult with the federal government and seek its prior consent if it wanted to remove the IGP for compelling reasons. Likewise, the federal government if it wanted to recall the IGP from the province should also consult the provincial government for the purpose and seek its prior consent for the purpose.

Speaking on this amendment, the CM said that the provision had been retained in the new police law to remove the IGP only under compelling circumstances as the constitution provided a method to remove the judges, president, prime minister and chief ministers.

He said that there should be some method to remove the IGP if in case his official conduct became unworthy and unbearable in the province during the midst of his tenure as the constitution fully provided a method to remove people sitting in top government positions.

Earlier, once the assembly started reconsidering the bill, the opposition legislators belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Muttahida Quami Movement walked out of the house. However, the opposition legislators belonging to the Grand Democratic Alliance, the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal kept sitting in the house.

GDA MPAs Arif Mustafa Jatoi and Shaharyar Khan Mahar also moved certain amendments to the bill.

Before the walkout from the house, opposition lawmakers Muhammad Hussain Khan of the MQM and Shaharyar Mahar suggested that once the bill was sent back by the governor for reconsideration by the house, it should be referred back to the Select Committee of the assembly, formed earlier to duly consider the new provincial police law, so that the governor’s observations on the law could be considered in a better and detailed manner.

Once the house passed the bill, the chief minister said that it had become the first law of the province that had been passed by the house after doing extensive consultation with all the stakeholders, including the opposition, the IGP and the civil society.

He said that never before had such extensive consultations been conducted prior to the passage of a bill by the provincial assembly. He said that the bill was aimed at making the provincial police force a responsive, responsible, and accountable agency, which would work to maintain law and order under the oversight of the government.

Shah stated that the process of mutual consultation would take place between the provincial and federal governments in taking top-level decisions regarding the police force as neither of the governments would be in a position to impose its will in running the affairs of the police.

He stressed that the bill was not being passed to enable the provincial government to wrest back the control of the police force; rather, it would restore the oversight of the government of the police.

He said that government’s oversight was very vital to maintain law and order in the province given a recent surge in criminal activities. He also read out in the house parts of the recent observations of the acting chief justice of Pakistan on the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi.

The CM said that the observations of the acting chief justice were very serious in nature regarding the law and order and the provincial government would take due measures to rectify the situation once it had restored oversight powers of the police.

He held out the assurance that once the bill was again be passed by the assembly, the government would constitute a Provincial Public Safety Commission within 30 days as enshrined in the law for check and balance on the police force.

He said that people without having any political affiliation and with impeccable integrity would be inducted into the Public Safety Commission. He thanked to the representatives of the civil society for taking part in the deliberations. He said that observations and objections of the opposition during the deliberations of the Select Committee had been accommodated by up to 90 percent while finalising the draft of new provincial police law.

The CM said he wished the opposition lawmakers would have participated in the proceedings of the house to reconsider the bill instead of walking out without any reason, much like they had duly taken part in the deliberations of the Select Committee.

He said that the government of the Pakistan Peoples Party had restored law and order in the province after many efforts and sacrifices as it would do whatever it took to maintain peace. He said the Sindh government would not let the law and order deteriorate. He said that the mechanism of the Public Safety Commission would be there to check the working of the police in a most neutral and efficient manner.

Shah noted that all the observations of the Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court had been duly considered before passing the bill. He said that a few months back he had gone to the Karachi Central Jail where he had met several inmates at the jail hospital who had been injured in suspected police encounters as they had suffered bullet injuries to both their knees.

He said police had no right to punish criminals in such a manner in total disregard of their human rights, but the police without the government’s oversight was not at all accountable for such grave misconduct violating the law and the constitution.

He said the new police law would empower the office of IGP by making him the secretary of the provincial police department with powers of the principal accounting officer.

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