Drafting an Alternative Tamil Nadu Police Bill Replacing The Police Act of 1861 and Other Police Laws

REPORT

 
A Consultation on Drafting an Alternative Tamil Nadu Police Bill 2014 Replacing The Police Act of 1861 was jointly organised by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), Campaign for Custodial Justice & Abolition of Torture and Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation (HRF). The Consultation was held on 25th October 2014 at Chennai.
At the end of the meeting a drafting committee was formed to draft an Alternative Tamil Nadu Police Law representing advocates, writers, human rights organisations, representatives of political parties and dalits and women’s rights organisations.  The following resolutions were taken at the conclusion of the meeting.

 

Resolutions pertaining to police legislation:

  • Purpose of a Police Act is to establish the basic structure and organization of the police, with accountability processes and mechanisms. Must be seen that the directives of the Supreme Court are complied with.
  • A Police Act should not create new coercive powers for the police, nor should it dilute accountability in any way
  • Any offences against the public must be kept to a minimum
  • A Police Act should not restate powers already available under the Code of Criminal Procedure. Different words in different laws that refer to and address the same set of circumstances create uncertainty and confusion, and allows in arbitrary actions.
  • Wherever applicable, any offences against the police in the Police Act must be read with all existing penal offences, mandatorily for those which amount to criminal offences

reforms-001

Justice.K.P.Sivasubramanian, Former Judge, High Court of Madras,  Mr.Ossie Fernandes, Director, HRF,  Mr M.Jeeva, Convenor, CCJAT presenting their views

 

 

Some important followup action that where decided by the delegates

 

  • A Separate Consultation for media persons to be organised on police reforms
  • Educational material on existing issues like illegal arrest, delay in filling cases, custodial torture should be explained and taken to common people.
  • Signature Campaign with a educational leaflet to create huge support for police reforms to be organised
  • A note on critique of the 1861 Police Act, Tamil Nadu District Police Act and City Police Acts with the reason why it should be repealed should be drafted
  • Resolve to implead in the Supreme Court petition by Harsh salve challenging the 17 State police Acts including Tamil Nadu for diluting the Supreme Court Judgment in Prakash singh case
  • To work together to defeat (repeal) all draconian detention laws

 

Ossie Fernandes, Director, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation presented an Alternative Frame Work for a Tamil Nadu Police Act. He called for a complete radical change in Legislation governing the police and the mechanism for making the police system democratic independent, transparent and accountable. He said that several progressive decisions of the Surpeme Court where in contradiction to the day today functioning of the police system. He further added while quoting the alternative frame work that such a law should contain essential content including

  • role and function of police,
  • an accountable, transparent police station,
  • procedure to be followed by the police in the case of arrest, rape and sexual abuse, death in police custody and in extra judicial killings.
  • should contain a State Security Commission,
  • separate Investigation and Law and Order function of the police,
  • the need for a Police Establishment Board,
  • a Police Complaints Authority and Police Accountability Commission and Authority

 

Addressing the key session Ms. Devika Prasad, Sr. Programme Officer, CHRI said that after the Supreme Court Judgement in 2006 in Prakash singh case, 17 states have enacted New Police Act. But none of the states incorporated the 7 Directives of Supreme Court in letter and spirit. Rather it is diluted. Currently police accountability in Tamil Nadu by the standards of the Police Reforms Act 2013 has degenerated and does not guarantee even ensure minimum standards for the functioning of a police station. With regard to State Security Commission (SSC) we require the systemic process of evaluation of police performance. It is unfortunate that in Tamil Nadu the chairpersons of existing Human Rights Commissions have appointed to the State Security Commission in violation of Supreme Court Directives.

 

reforms-002

Selva Singh, State Committee Member, CPI (M) sharing his opinion about the importance of Police Reforms

Ms.Devika Prasad pointed out in the CHRI critique of the Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Act 2013 that the act  passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly despite demands from the opposition parties be sent to a Select Committee was in gross violations of the Supreme Court case in judgment of Prakash Singh case. Devika Prasad said that the Tamil Nadu Police (Reforms) Act had diluted extensively the directives of the Supreme Court.

 

 

She said that there was no independent member in the State Security Commission. She pointed out of the worst aspect of the act is the Police Complaints Board (which is to deal complaints abuses against police officer) it makes it mandatory for people to file a return complaint attested by a notary public.

 

Basic features of a new act should be

 

  • A police Act should not create any new coercive powers to police
  • Police Act need not reflect already existing provisions in criminal laws
  • Any breach of DK Basu guidelines should be punished.
  • Already for some crimes punishment, guidelines will be there, such things need not be added in new police Act.
  • Lesser punishments for the already defined offence in IPC/ CrPc should be increased

 

M.Jeeva, Convenor, Campaign for Custodial Justice & Abolition of Torture chaired the inaugural session. Around 43 participants including retd Judges, Civil society organisations, senior lawyers, women’s organisations, political party representatives, Journalists, human rights organisations and social movements participated.  In separate session the representatives of Political parties Selva Singh, State Committee Member, CPI (M), Beema Rao, MLA,CPI (M),  Hyder Ali, MMK, Mallai Sathya, Natarajan, MDMK, Kumaresh, CPI(ML) shared views on the importance enacting an alternative Police Bill for Tamil Nadu. They also gave some suggestion such as Additional sections on ensuring women safety; makes a woman confident to give complaint in a police station should be included in the alternative laws.

 

Mr.Jeeva said that CCJAT has a role in exposing many custodial violations including torture, deaths, rape, encounter deaths, etc., This Campaign is also involved in filing litigations against custodial violations. As part of our campaign for democratic policing, this consultation is organised. He further said the present Tamil Nadu Police Act 2013 is not fulfilling the 7 directives of Supreme Court. Policing should function independently from political pressures. Irrespective of various statutory commissions existing violations against common people by police is continuing.

 

The committee authorized organisers of the meeting to take the necessary steps for drafting and circulating a New Police Act and implementing the plan for followup action