After 150 years, JK set to have new Police Act

Draft Legislation Will Be Made Public Soon: MoS Home

ABID BASHIR

Srinagar, Jan 11: After a span of over 150 years, Jammu and Kashmir is all set to get a new Police Act as the state government has finalized the draft legislation for “wider public consultation.”
The draft legislation of the Act is being made public by the government for debate after discussing its contours for more than a year to make the legislation “more humane and acceptable to the people.”
It will be after more than 151 years that the state, ravaged by perpetual strife of over 20 years, will have a new police act to be called as the “Jammu and Kashmir Police (Amendment) Act, 2013.”
“We are done with the exercise of drafting the new act,” the Minister of State for Home, Nasir Aslam Wani, told Greater Kashmir. “The act is ready and will soon be put on the website of police department for public debate and feedback.”
A senior official in the State Home Department said the move to put the draft legislation the website is aimed to generate wider public debate to find “shortcomings or loopholes, if any” therein. “Public involvement is must as the act is for them. The government needs to know whether people would accept the new act or not. Genuine changes that people would suggest will seriously be considered,” the official said.
Sources said the draft legislation is likely to be put on the website in next 10 days. “It will remain there for a while. After that, the act will be tabled before the State Cabinet for its consent. Accordingly, the act will be introduced in the State Assembly for discussion and passage,” they said. “It is more likely that the act will be moved in the upcoming budget session to be held in Jammu in February.”
Sources said many changes have been made to the existing J&K Police Act of 1862. “Some changes were suggested by the former Principal Secretary Home, B R Sharma and former Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda,” they said. “The exercise to draft the new legislation was on for past more than a year. Since the issue was serious in nature, the members who were tasked with suggesting changes took a lot of time to complete the exercise.”
Sources, privy to the amendments, said people-friendly changes have been made in the new act. “There are clauses to deal with new nature of crime—cyber and electronic. We have also incorporated clauses to increase accountability of police besides streamline the recruitment and conduct of cops,” he said. “More focus has been given to streamline policing and making the act more humane.”
Professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain, who teaches Law at the Central University of Kashmir said: “Better late than never. It remains to be seen how the act and other laws will be implemented in presence of Disturbed Areas Act (DAA) which confers excessive powers to the police.”
Pertinently, the Police Act was actually drafted by the Britishers as a direct consequence of the mutiny of 1857 against their rule.  The Police Act lays down the structure and functions of the police department in the state.
The current administration of police falls under the Police Act, Indian Penal Code (IPC) of 1862 (amended in 1993); Indian Evidence Act (IEA) of 1872; and Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1861 (revised in 1898 and 1973). Together, this forms the current, but an “outdated police system.”
Professor Gul Wani, who teaches political science at Kashmir University, said there is a dire need of making the new draft public so that a result-oriented debate takes place. “The draft is much needed as more and more responsibilities are being shifted to JK police. The police force of J&K is like other forces in violence-hit States like Punjab and North-East,” Wani said. “On one side, being part of a state apparatus, the police force acts as a link between State and the people, on the other. A lay man would expect that the new reforms are implemented in true spirit.”
He said the officers at the higher level have to be invested with the responsibility to look into the problems of the police force. “Police force has problems of its own like psychological, economic and social which need to be addressed for better performance by cops. These problems need to be handled with lot of empathy,” Wani said.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 11 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 12 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST




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