In late September, the Supreme Court ordered the central government and the states to implement a seven-point directive on police reform, an overhaul of the 145-year-old Indian Police Act. A Punjab committee is charged with the task of drafting a new State Police Act in furtherance of the Supreme Court’s order. The committee is set to conclude its deliberations and submit a report to the Punjab government today, December 7. The directive includes orders to:

1. Create state security commissions, “to ensure that the State Government does not exercise unwarranted influence or pressure on the State police and for laying down the broad policy guidelines so that the State police always acts according to the laws of the land and the Constitution of the country.”

2. Establish a two-year minimum tenure for Director Generals of Police (DGPs), and limits on their selection

3. Establish a two-year minimum tenure for other officers in key positions

4. Separate criminal investigation from general law and order patrol

5. Create a police establishment board

6. Set up a police complaints authority

7. Create a National Security Commission.

Members of the committee include the Punjab Principal Secretary of Home and Justice, Principal Secretary of Finance, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, the Advocate General of Punjab, Director General of Police and the Secretary of Personnel, and the Inspector General of Police ( HQ), Punjab, as member secretary.

The Director General of Police SS Virk came out in full support of the police officers convicted of the murder and torture of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra in November 2005. Virk’s appointment has been challenged in court because of his role in perpetrating human rights violations during the police counter-insurgency operations of 1984 to 1994. The directions of the Supreme Court must be implemented by December 31. More information on the order, as well as the full text, can be found here.


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