The Left government in Kerala on Tuesday said it was yet to take a final decision on setting up metropolitan police commissionerates in the state and it would be implemented only after a consensus emerges on the issue.
Under the metropolitan system, police commissioners will have magisterial powers like District Collectors.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed the state Assembly that the proposal to set up the commissionarates in Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi was under consideration, but the CPI(M)-led LDF government was in “no hurry” to implement it.
The Chief Minister’s statement comes days after CPI, the second largest coalition partner in the Left front, had reportedly come out against the Vijayan government’s decision to give magisterial powers to police.
When the Opposition UDF created a ruckus in the House over the issue, Vijayan said similar commissionerates had already been functioning in 44 cities across the country and its objective was to strengthen the law and order system in urban areas.
Turning the tables on Congress-led UDF members, Vijayan said his government had not taken any new decision in this regard and the proposal was the “policy decision” of the previous Oommen Chandy government.
“We are yet to take a final decision on the police commissionerate system.
It will be done only after taking into account the peculiar circumstances in Kerala and holding discussions and evolving a consensus,” the Chief Minister said while replying to a notice for an adjournment motion.
Even if the commissionerate system is implemented, the government has no plan to grant police the powers to detain people under the Kerala Anti-Social (Activities) Prevention Act (KAPA), he said.
Seeking notice for the motion, Congress legislator V T Balram said the commissionerate system would give “undue powers” to the police, which would result in the curtailing of basic human rights of common people.
“What will happen if the police get power to carry out inquest in the case of a custodial death…?
What will happen if the officials, notorious for human rights violations, get the enhanced powers,?” he asked.
Alleging that the government was setting up the new system out of pressure from the IPS lobby, Balram also said even the Law Department had objected to the decision, stating that Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi did not have the requsite population of 10 lakh each to establish the commissionerates.
Quoting official records, he said police personnel were involved in 23 murders during the tenure of the present government and over 60 officers were accused of custodial torture.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the Congress government had decided not to establish the commissionerate system, considering the opinions of human right activists and the then opposition leader and CPI(M) veteran V S Achuthanandan.
The opposition members later staged a walkout as Speaker, P Sreeramakrishnan denied permission for the adjournment motion based on the reply of the Chief Minister.