After over three decades of heartburn and constant tiff over policing and superseding authority between the Delhi Police which reports to the Centre and the Delhi government,the Ministry of Home Affairs has finally proposed restoration of licensing powers to the government.
In a communication dated July 2,the MHA has asked the government to outline the alternative mechanism for licensing. According to sources,the government has already examined the Draft Delhi Police Bill,2013,and also submitted its comments to the MHA through the Chief Ministers office.
In follow-up to the MHAs proposal,a meeting chaired by the Chief Secretary on July 16 asked the revenue department to submit a detailed note on the issue.
The government has long argued the illegality of the automatic grant of all magisterial powers to the police through Section 146 of the Delhi Police Act of 1978. According to the Act,the Commissioner of Police delegates his functions as District Magistrate to any DCP or Additional DCP.
The government argues that there are several provisions in the existing Delhi Police Act that not only negate the principle of separation of judiciary from the executive,but also strike a devastating blow to the concept of rule of law.
Provisions under Section 28 of the Act grants licensing powers to Delhi Police.
In outlining the alternative mechanism for licensing work,the government has mentioned that it was fully geared up to take over the licensing functions,if the same are dwelled upon as proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The government has proposed to revive the licensing system through the office of the Deputy Commissioner,as it existed pre-1978.
It is proposed that a separate administrative structure for the licensing branch would be set up in the office of the Principal Secretary (Revenue) cum Divisional Commissioner,wherein applications for licenses would be received and processed online after receiving inputs from the districts. Eventually,the work would be decentralised to the respective districts headed by the District Magistrates.
A multi-agency body – including Delhi Fire Services,Delhi Disaster Management Authority,Delhi Police,Labour department,Excise department,MCD,DPCC,SDM,and others concerned – would be responsible for examining the applications and grant of licences through the DMs concerned.