New Odisha Police Act on the anvil, Bill in next Session

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Government is in the process of finalizing a new Odisha Police Act which will incorporate recommendations of the Administrative Reforms Commission, directions of the Supreme Court and the Model Police Act as recommended by the Soli Sorabjee Committee.
 
Speaking at the conference of CMs on the Fifth Report of the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) in New Delhi, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik said, “The Bill is proposed to be introduced in the next session of the State Legislative Assembly”.

Speaking at the conference convened by the Union Home Ministry, the CM also spelt out the state government’s viewpoint on the 153 recommendations made by the ARC report on “Public Order”.

Terming the conference as a “welcome step” in the direction of improving Public Order, Naveen said, “Some recommendations in the Report have already been acted upon by us. Many other recommendations are generally acceptable to us in principle. However, there are some recommendations on which our state government has serious reservations”.

Elaborating the steps on which the state government has already initiated steps, the CM said the state government had already set up three Police Establishment Committees. The State Level Committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary deals with the transfer and posting of officers of the level of SP and above. The Second Committee under the DGP deals with officers of the level of ASP and below. The District Level Committee deals with subordinate staff within the district.

The ARC report had recommended that crime investigation should be separated from other policing functions. A Crime Investigation Agency should be constituted in each state. The Chief of the Crime Investigation Agency should have full autonomy in matters of investigation. He/she shall have a minimum tenure of three years.

According to the ARC report, this Crime Investigative Agency should be headed by a Chief of Investigation who should function under the administrative control of a Board of investigation, to be headed by a retired/sitting judge of the High Court.

On the separation of crime investigation from other policing functions, the CM said, “My Government agrees in principle to separation of investigation from law and order. We, however, feel that the separate Board of Investigation should remain under the control of DGP for ensuring his independence and accountability in investigations…. Such a separation would necessitate earmarking of officers to exclusively deal with investigation of crime, with no other role relating to law & order or miscellaneous duties. A meaningful separation would, however, require adequate strengthening of the civil police force”.

The CM also agreed in principle to the Independent Inspectorate of Police which should assist the DGP in performance audit and inspection.

The CM opposed the abolition of constabulary from the force. He said, “We are of the view that total abolition of constabulary force in civil police may not be practicable as constables are required to perform many jobs in police stations. However, direct recruitment of graduate Assistant Sub-Inspectors of Police will help in qualitative improvement at the base level”.

There were several other recommendations of the ARC on which he CM expressed serious reservations.

As Police is a State subject, the CM said enactment of new laws to deal with federal crimes as recommended by ARC is not acceptable. The CM also opposed power of the Union Government to deploy Central force as it violates the basic federal structure. “Such deployment should only be made on the specific requisition of the State Government”, Naveen said.

Regarding ARC recommendations on CBI, the CM said, “No new legislation on CBI should be made without consulting our state government. The present system of CBI taking up investigation only with concurrence of the state government should continue in true spirit of our federal structure”.