Home wants new police Act for Delhi,draft does rounds

Proposal to repeal 1978 Act,new Bill seeks to introduce police reforms

Written by Geeta Gupta | New Delhi | Published: July 24, 2013 3:22:43 am

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has proposed repealing of the 1978 Delhi Police Act.

The MHA wants to replace it with a Delhi Police Bill which,sources said,is currently being circulated within the Delhi government.

Apart from major police reforms,the MHA has also proposed restoring licensing powers to the government,which currently rests with the Delhi Police.

The ministry asked the government to submit a detailed response on the proposed police reforms. The government has,in turn,proposed a multitude of changes in the draft Bill,which it says “brazenly impinges on several subjects in the State List,and,therefore,needs a drastic revision”.

In a communication dated July 2,the MHA has sought the government’s response and comments over a proposal to restore licensing powers to it.

“The draft Bill arrogates the powers of the state government and the district administration to the police department and attempts to subvert the rule of law by trying to establish a police-state. By vesting all powers of the District Magistrate (under CrPC) with the Commissioner of Police and the powers of Executive Magistrates with other police officers,the new draft legislation not only encroaches upon the domain of general administration and other departments,but also seeks to make the police authorities the judge,jury and executioner,” the government noted in its response.

The city government pointed out 10 areas that have been encroached upon by the Delhi Police despite being state subjects. These include local government and taxation; public health,including the use of “amplifiers”; burial grounds; cattle trespass; markets and fairs; inns and motels; entertainment and amusement,including cinemas; betting and gambling.

The government’s detailed comments on the proposed new Bill sought “deletions in certain proposed sections and also proposed changes wherever required along with justifications”.

The government also stated that it was “fully geared up to take over licensing functions,if the same were dwelled upon as proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs”.

“Over the last three decades,the Delhi Police has issued a multitude of regulations for the issuance of licences for various activities under the garb of maintaining public order. These regulations encompass an array of public activity realms,which includes,inter alia,hotels,motels,public performances,eating houses,cinemas and theatres,hookah bars and swimming pools. This virtually enforced a regime of arbitrary licensing,which is neither backed by any legislation nor mandated by any court order or decree,” the government said in its comments to the MHA.

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