By Zamir Ghumro
By Barrister Zamir Ghumro
Police reforms have been an essential topic of discussion in the country in an attempt to prevent crime and police brutality in violation of the fundamental human rights of citizens.
The issue of police reforms has sat at centre stage after the repeal of the Police Order, 2002, by the provinces. A few years ago, a petition was filed in the Sindh High Court, asking for the legality of the Police Order, 2002 and declaring the Sindh Police Law of 2011 unconstitutional.
The Sindh High Court held that the police had been exclusively a provincial subject from 1935 and that the Sindh Assembly had rightly repealed the Police Order, 2002. The petitioners preferred to appeal, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court, so the high court’s decision is now in the field.
Although there are no two opinions that the police must be free from any political control with sufficient internal autonomy, police officialdom is pursuing the reform agenda based on a slogan of depoliticization for two purposes: more powers for the police bureaucracy and centralization of the provincial subject of police.
Depoliticizing the police means that legislators or political executives should not interfere in the administrative affairs of the police. However, depoliticizing is also confused with the executive power of the provinces, which needs to be more accurate.
The police consider the 2002 Police Order an ideal police law for reform purposes. However, under that exact order, the police elite placed controls on the police in the form of public safety commissions that were ineffective. It wanted to retain the power of transfer and posting of its officers. As a result, it became more politicized; the arbitrary use of the police for the May 12 mayhem in 2007 is a case in point.
The Sindh Police Act 2019, enacted a few years back, is modelled on the Police Order 2002, but the police seem to need more time to do it. For the police, depoliticization means that they should be free from the executive control of the provincial government. For this, the police play the federal and provincial governments against each other to promote group interests at the cost of people’s rights.
The police have made an effort since the inception of Pakistan to centralize this purely provincial subject to avoid the executive control exercised by the provinces. Section 10 of the Independence Act of 1947 abolished all central services.
In 1949, the federal executive authority framed the police cadre rules to create a central Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) without any act of the constituent assembly. Those rules had no legal basis. General Zia again tried to legalize the PSP through the police cadre rules of 1985. Police bigwigs quote the saving clause of Article 241 of the constitution to protect their service. Still, the article provides them with no such protection as the police service never existed legally through an act of parliament. Even the central legislature could not have passed for want of legislative competence, the police being a provincial subject.
Strangely enough, for their reform agenda, the police prefer the laws of Zia, Musharraf – or resort to judicial forums when convenient.
What the police elite want is that their service should be central so that the provincial government may not take disciplinary action against their officers for misconduct. Second, the police elite wants complete control and authority over their officers’ transfer and postings. Suppose the provincial executive would neither have a say in the transfer and posting nor would it be able to suspend or dismiss a police officer for misconduct. Why would it retain the police as a provincial force?
Police officers want the security of tenure for the positions of SP to IG, which is a good idea for service delivery. However, in the same breath, they oppose the security of tenure for SHOs. They transfer poor SHOs every month – though legally speaking, only an SHO has legal powers under the law, and all other officers’ functions are supervisory.
The institution of the police station, which is the linchpin of the whole system, has been made redundant by the police bureaucracy. It has neither a budget nor independence for the required service delivery – though the Sindh government gives the police more than Rs110 billion annual budget, the third most significant outlay after education and health. Even if Rs20 million is allocated for each police station, it would cost only Rs10 billion for 500 police stations in Sindh to make their model service centres. The budget spending is the same in all provinces. There is no scrutiny of the budgeting of police in all the provinces.
In the Sindh High Court, the petitioners quoted extensively from a 2006 Parkash Singh case of the Indian Supreme Court, which asked provinces to enact A Model Police Act by their consent. Even in India, under the Model Act promulgated by some states, the director general of police who heads the police in a province is appointed by state governments without any interference from the central government, and provincial governments exercise complete executive authority over the police.
The so-called reform agenda is not aimed at depoliticizing police but rather making the police unaccountable and a state within a state.
The constitution is the supreme organ of a state. The law and order and establishment of police is a provincial subject; how can federal legislative and executive authority affect a provincial matter after the 18th amendment? After abolishing the concurrent list, the council of common interests became common between the federation and provinces. CCI holds control of the federal legislative list part II as the latter has 18 exclusive powers according to federal legislative list part II. Common or all Pakistan services can only be raised among the common subjects of CCI. Hence, the existing scheme of police is unconstitutional, and the creation of Provincial Police on posts connected with the affairs of a province is the only constitutional solution towards effective policing and people accountability.
The writer is a barrister-at-law and former advocate general of Sindh.
2 thoughts on “Police Reforms and Creation of Provincial Police Service PPS”
An excellent article, pps is need of the day that’s a way forward
An excellent article pps is the need of the hour this is only the way forward to save the system please