LAHORE: According to recent reports in the media, the Punjab government is contemplating amendments to the Police Order, 2002. These amendments are quite similar to the amendments made in 2004 through an ordinance that intended to undermine the operational autonomy of the police. The idea is to make the police subordinate to the province’s chief secretary and the home ministry and reduce its status to that of an attached department of the provincial government. The ascendancy of the bureaucracy over the professional police force will not only make the inspector general ineffective but also constrain the governance space available to the chief minister, who at the moment provides personal supervision, superintendence and policy guidance.
The proposed amendments define the provincial police officer/inspector general as the ‘ex-officio secretary’ who shall work subject to the policy, oversight and guidance given by the chief minister through the chief secretary and the home ministry. The retention of the district nazim, writing of the district police officer’s (DPO) annual confidential report (ACR) and insertion of Article 186A, are intended to enable the provincial government to amend the schedule of the Police Order, 2002 by a simple gazette notification and to place the DPO under the deputy commissioner after the promulgation of the proposed Local Government Act, 2012.
In the previous amendments brought forward because of the pressure put up by the elite bureaucratic group, politicisation and merger of the Public Safety Commissions and the Police Complaints Authority gave tremendous powers to this body, thus undermining the operational and administrative autonomy of the PPO/IGP.
The writing of the DPO’s ACR by the district nazim diluted the authority of PPO over one of his key officers. The posting of a non-police officer as the secretary of provincial and district public safety and complaints commission affected the neutrality of this body, thus constraining the authority of PPO.
The proposed amendments by the Punjab government introduce new definitions of ‘direct’, ‘responsible’, ‘exigency of service’ and ‘fact-finding inquiry’ and could have far-reaching implications for the police. The amendments abolish a number of federal institutions like the National Public Safety Commission, the National Police Management Board, the National Police Bureau, etc. The amendments abolish/repeal number of complete chapters of Police Order, 2002. Such proposed amendments are obviously illegal and unconstitutional.
At this critical juncture when the country is facing gigantic economic, political, legal and security-related problems posing existential threats, the idea of amending the Police Order Articles by the Punjab government abolishing certain federal institutions seems to be a novelty hitherto unheard and unknown.
In an election year, the Punjab government should avoid adding to controversies which have already paralysed the body politic of Pakistan.
Dr Azhar Hassan Nadeem
Inspector-General of Police (retd)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.
More in LettersGruesome scenes