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Punjab govt move to control police
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 30
In a crucial decision having far reaching implications on the role of the police, the Punjab Cabinet today gave its nod to introduce a legislation to govern and administer the Punjab Police besides separately imposing four per cent entry tax on sugar, steel, iron, yarn, partially-oriented yarn, fibre, chips and chemical dyes produced in other states.

The Punjab Police Bill, 2007 will be presented in the Vidhan Sabha and the Cabinet okayed it today. This will empower the government to set up a “police commissioner system” in major cities. Also it will segregate the law and order and investigation wings at the police station-level. It also envisages a separate cadre for the intelligence wing and for technical services.

Crucially the new legislation, when cleared in the House, will empower the state government, to issue a separate notification and transfer certain powers enjoyed by the executive magistrate and the deputy commissioner under the CrPC to the police commissioner. The introduction of the legislation does not mean that the police commissioner system has been put in place. The government has been empowered to set up the police commissioner system as and when it desires, said a senior minister.

The system of police commissioner is working in major cities of the country for the past several decades, but it has generated some fears among the bureaucracy in Punjab. Under the CrPC the powers to impose Section 144 that restrains the assembly of five or more people and hearing of cases of disputes under Section 107/51, are presently with the executive and not the police. These powers can go to the police commissioner.

Apart from this, whenever the police commissioners are appointed, the cases under the Indian explosives Act, the prisons Act, the immoral trafficking Act, the prevention of cruelty to animals Act, among other laws will be with the police. The cities of Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar and Bathinda may be the first to have the police-commissioner system.

Crucially the new legislation says that each police station should be headed by at least a sub-inspector rank functionary. Also the appointed SHO should not be facing prosecution in any criminal case, there should be no vigilance enquiry or departmental enquiry relating to serious misconduct and before being posted as an SHO the official should not have been awarded a major penalty.

Starting from the rank to the IG of a zone to the SHO, everybody on field postings will have a fixed tenure of one year. While the DGP will have a tenure of two years. Certain conditions have been put under which the officials on fixed tenure postings can be removed. A state police board headed by the Chief Minister will plan the long-term policies. A police establishment committee headed by the DGP will decide upon the transfers of personnel of DSP-level and below.

The Cabinet also approved the setting-up of 2,748 new anganwadi centres in the state. The centres would be spread across all 148 blocks of Punjab. An integrated child and women welfare centre has been approved for Gurdaspur.

The Cabinet also approved amendment of the Punjab minor mineral concession rules, for brick earth and ordinary earth minerals only. The brick industry of the state will pay VAT on lump sum basis on the pattern of the neighbouring states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. It may be recalled that the brick industry in Punjab was paying lump sum tax for many years prior to the introduction of VAT w.e.f April 1, 2005. The Cabinet also approved an amendment to the CrPC to permit the use of video conferencing for production of accused before a magistrate and recording of evidence. 

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