New police law in the works: Home dept, police ‘on the same page’

LAHORE: Law Minister Rana Sanaullah has indicated that a new law governing police in the province will be passed in the next sitting of the provincial assembly amid reports showing home department’s willingness to include police in the process and accommodate their suggestions.

“We are going to have our own police law passed in the next sitting of the Punjab Assembly while removing all objections of police which are minor,” the law minister told Dawn over telephone.

The minister was referring to the draft Police Act 2017 prepared by the home department earlier this month but was rejected by the police department. The main objection was that like every department, police had the basic right to suggest a law that would govern it.

The home department officials had said that the bill if passed would replace the Police Order 2002. All provinces are now required to either adapt the Musharraf-era mix Police Order or to replace it with a new law of their own in the light of the 18th Constitutional Amendment.

Official sources informed Dawn on Thursday that a meeting was held between officials of the home and police departments earlier in the day during which the former expressed their willingness to address objections of the latter.

For example, willingness was showed to withdraw the new nomenclatures of some police posts written in the draft law like the Metropolitan Police Officer instead of the existing Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) or the Detective instead of the present investigation officers. The police officials were assured that the draft bill would contain the nomenclature of all posts which are provided in the Police Order 2002.

They were also assured that the CCPO would continue to remain under the command of the IGP as was being desired by the police department. The home department did not have any objection if police wanted to continue with public safety commissions.

But, all provisions of Police Order 2002 which are related to policing in Islamabad or the National Safety Commission would have to be deleted as they had become irrelevant for Punjab or any other province.

Sources said police were told to prepare a draft of their choice and the home department would study it and come up with a mutually agreed version. The police officials had even shown the willingness to accept the Police Order in its original form minus the irrelevant or superfluous clauses.

“We have tried to resolve problems of the police department with the draft law. But let them continue with the Police Order if they want to,” an official said.

A police official said they insisted on adapting the Police Order 2002 which the force had been following over the past over one decade, giving them the confidence that they were not being robbed of the autonomy given by Gen Musharraf.

They said they agreed on the deletion of all superfluous clauses of the Police Order and the need to provincialise it. They said they insisted that the province in the first instance should adapt the Police Order 2002 to fulfill the court requirements in a pending case regarding the creation of statutory external watch bodies like the Public Safety Commission or the Public Complaint Authority.

The government should discard the Police Order 2002, if it wanted to, at a later stage but must make it the responsibility of the IGP to frame a new law that could satisfy his team or fulfill requirements of his department.

“We are again meeting in near future to present our version of the Police Order that the province is required to adapt,” a police official said.