Drafting a new police law for Delhi
Drafting a new police law for Delhi
Pursuant to the consensus forged in the seminar on "Making Our Police Effective and People-friendly", Common Cause has adopted a collaborative approach for furthering the cause of police reforms. In a path-breaking collaborative effort, Common Cause joined hands with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the Foundation for Restoration of National Values to formulate a "Model Delhi Police Bill, 2010". This was presented as an alternative to the "Delhi Police (Amendment) Bill, 2010" proposed by the Delhi Government to Ministry of Home Affairs. The proposal of the Delhi Government was found to be utterly lacking in substance.
The "Model Delhi Police Bill, 2010", drafted by a joint committee of the three civil society organizations under the convenership of Common Cause, is essentially based on the Model Police Act, 2006 formulated by the Police Act Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Shri Soli Sorabjee. It incorporates the directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh's case and also takes into account the relevant recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.
The proposal was presented to the Union Home Secretary on May 7, 2010 and the Lt. Governor of Delhi on May 11, 2010. Copies were also sent to the Chief Minister of Delhi and others. The proposal has evoked a positive response. Common Cause will continue to work with other stakeholders to facilitate the transformation of a colonial police force into an effective and people-friendly police service.
Common Cause Elections
The Revised Rules & Regulations of Common Cause Society, which have come into force on May 9, 2007, prescribe a term of three years for the President and the Vice-President. As such, the terms of the incumbent office bearers were to expire on May 9, 2010. In the meeting of the Governing Council of the Society held on April 20, 2010, Mr. Vikram Lal was unanimously reelected President of the Society for a fresh term of three years. The Council also re-elected Maj Gen (Retd.). J. P. Gupta as Vice-President for a three-year term and renominated Mr. Prakash Singh and Maj Gen (Retd.) J. P. Gupta as members of the Board of Trustees of Common Cause Trust.
A woman who went to the police station to report her husband missing, described him as `twenty-nine years old, 190 centimeters tall, fit and handsome.'
`I know your husband,' pointed out the desk sergeant. `He is forty-eight, short and overweight.'
`Sure he is,' the woman answered. `But who wants him back?'
Civil Society formulation for a new police law for Delhi
Common cause has been in the forefront of the campaign to make our police more effective, accountable and people-friendly. It will be recalled that Common Cause was a co-petitioner with Mr. Prakash Singh in a PIL, which culminated in the Supreme Court's landmark judgment on police reforms in September 2006.
Around the same time, the Police Act Drafting Committee (PADC) set up by the Union Government under the chairmanship of the eminent jurist, Shri Soli Sorabjee, submitted its draft Model Police Act (MPA). The MPA provided a comprehensive scheme for meeting the contemporary needs of policing in a diverse, democratic country undergoing rapid social changes and incorporated the directions of the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh's case.
While there has been some progress, albeit uneven, in the implementation of the Supreme Court directions, the MPA was all but forgotten, once the Ministry of Home Affairs formally commended it to the states. Common Cause has doggedly followed up the matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), urging it to establish its credibility by adopting the MPA as the template for reforming the police laws applicable to the National Capital Territory of Delhi and other Union Territories. Common Cause has also edeavoured to provide a platform for joint action by civil society organizations committed to police reforms.
Eventually, the MHA requested the Delhi Government in September 2009 to forward a legislative proposal for amending the Delhi Police Act, 1978, in conformity with the Supreme Court directives and the MPA. The Delhi Government submitted its legislative proposal in February 2010. After a joint study of the proposal, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Foundation for Restoration of National Values (FRNV) came to the conclusion that the formulation of the Delhi Government fell woefully short of the objectives of the Supreme Court directions and the MPA. Moreover, the approach adopted by the Delhi Government of incorporating, in a piecemeal fashion, disparate amendments into the 1978 Act severely disturbs its internal logic and creates new legal uncertainties.
The directives in the Prakash Singh case required governments to create a policing structure and mechanisms that would make the police more accountable and ensure that they were insulated from unwarranted outside interference, yet functioned under the supervision of civilian authority. They had to be given sole operational responsibility so that they could be held responsible for maintaining high standards of policing and professional conduct. Any abuse of power, criminal activity, or disciplinary infraction had to be severely dealt with. The mandated institutional mechanism comprised a Security Commission to lay down policy, a Police Establishment Board to decide on transfers and postings and an independent Police Complaints Authority to oversee the handling of public complaints about the police.
The Delhi Amendment does not envisage a statutory Security Commission. The fact that the MHA has, through an executive order, established a single Security Commission to lay down policing policy and undertake performance evaluation in respect of all the seven Union Territories, does not compensate for this lacuna. Likewise, the Amendment does not create any Police Complaints Authority to deal with public grievances against the police, since such a body has recently been set up by a fiat of the MHA. The proposal also deviates from the direction in respect of the composition and functions of the Police Establishment Board, with the result that it is not insulated from unwarranted outside interference. Furthermore, the legislative proposal drawn up by the Delhi Government does scant justice to the recommendations of the PADC in respect of crucial organizational, operational and environmental dimensions of policing.
Against this backdrop, Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the Foundation for Restoration of National Values worked together to draft a new "Delhi Police Bill, 2010", which is based on the deep desire of the citizens of India, and that of many eminent organizations, corporate firms, individuals and civil activists, to improve the state and status of the police services across the country. The Bill is essentially based on the MPA and faithfully incorporates the Supreme Court's directions in Prakash Singh's case. The draft also takes into account the relevant recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission.
The draft "Delhi Police Bill, 2010" was presented to the Union Home Secretary on May 3, 2010 with an explanatory note, which is reproduced below. Subsequently, the draft was submitted to the Lt. Governor and also forwarded to the Chief Minister of Delhi.
The Union Government, which has taken the initiative for a comprehensive revision of the Delhi Police Act, 1978, would do well to consider the enactment and implementation of the provisions of the "Delhi Police Bill, 2010", formulated jointly by the three civil society organizations. We are confident that this formulation would provide a framework for bringing about a significant improvement in the effectiveness of policing and the morale and self-esteem of the members of the police service.
Joint letter of Common Cause, CHRI and FRNV to Union Home Secretary
Dated 30th April, 2010
Dear Shri Pillai,
This letter is a follow-up of the deliberations during the Workshop on Amendments to the "Delhi Police Act, 1978", held on April 10, 2010 at India International Centre.
The present Delhi Police (Amendment) Bill 2010 is intended to incorporate the directives of the Supreme Court in the Prakash Singh case 2006 into the Delhi Police Act of 1978 as well as those of the Draft Model Police Act as drafted by the Police Act Drafting Committee headed by Mr Soli Sorabjee. However the proposed amendment falls short of both these desirable intentions.
As expressed by several persons at the above mentioned Workshop, the overall effect of incorporating the present amendments piecemeal into the Principal Act severely disturbs its internal logic and creates legal uncertainties without taking forward the objectives of the Supreme Court or the schema as laid down by the Draft Model Police Act. The Amendments proposed in fact would have the effect of thwarting these very intentions.
You will well appreciate that a Police Act seeking to address the contemporary and emerging needs of policing must have the following features:
1. Well defined structures which ensure Operational Autonomy with Accountability
2. Measures to encourage High Levels of Professionalism enabled by regular training, equipment and supporting infrastructure, ensuring a high degree of mobility, state of the art communications network, access to computer databases and forensic analyses, modern weaponry and well designed work places.
3. Priority to Core Police Functions and Duties viz. crime investigation, maintenance of law & order, intelligence gathering and ensuring internal security, while gradually transferring non-core functions to State agencies and local institutions in accordance with the intent and provisions of the Constitution.
4. Transparent procedures for Recruitment, Promotion and Grievance Redressal of police personal and measures for welfare of lower ranks which constitute the vast majority of the police force.
5. Effective mechanism for Co-ordination and Co-operation between the police and the civil authorities and between the police and common citizens.
With these goals in view, a group of concerned civil society organizations comprising Common Cause, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the Foundation for Restoration of National Values has jointly formulated a "Model Delhi Police Bill, 2010" for your consideration. The Bill is essentially based on the Model Police Act, 2006 drafted by the Police Act Drafting Committee (set up by MHA under the chairmanship of Shri Soli Sorabjee) and incorporates the Supreme Court directions in Prakash Singh's case. This formulation also takes into account the relevant recommendations of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission contained in its Fifth report titled "Public Order". At the same time, such of the provisions of the Delhi Police Act, 1978, and the Amendment Bill proposed by Delhi Police, which seek to replicate the existing provisions of other specialized laws and codes, have been excluded from this formulation in order to avoid potential conflicts and redundancies.
As stakeholders in the exercise of revision of the Delhi Police Act, we would be happy to work closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs in giving a final shape to the legislative proposal for the Delhi Police Bill, 2010, which we hope, will serve as an exemplar for other States and Union Territories.
With warm regards,
Shri G.K. Pillai,
Secretary (Home), Government of India,
North Block, New Delhi 110 001