Kashmir finally goes for security panel on police reforms

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Omar Abdullah
New Delhi, Feb 18: After resisting for all these years, Omar Abdullah, who has been raising voice against the army's role in Jammu and Kashmir has finally decided to set up a State Security Commission on police reforms.

It will be headed by the Chief Minister to review security scenario in the state and frame policy guidelines under the proposed J&K Police Bill 2013. "The government within six months of the coming into force of this Act (J&K Police Act), will establish a State Security Commission (SSC)," according to the draft J&K Police Bill, 2013. The Bill is likely to be tabled in the forthcoming budget session of the Assembly starting from February 28.

The Commission will aid and advise the government in discharge of its functions under the Act, review the security scenario and define and lay down areas of concern and priority. The commission will have the chief minister as the Chairperson, Home Minister or Minister of State (MoS) for Home as Vice-Chairperson, a retired high court judge nominated by Chief Justice of J&K High Court, Chief Secretary, Administer Secretary of Home Department, DGP and three non-official members, one of whom would be a woman.

The Commission would submit a report annually to the state government which will be tabled in the Assembly. It shall also appoint three-member panel of experts familiar with the functioning of police or public administration to review and evaluate the performance of the police force annually. The draft plan has been prepared in pursuance to the judgement of the Supreme Court passed relating to the police reforms, he said.

Omar Abdullah has been saying that the situation in the state was conducive for partial revocation of the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that gives security forces sweeping powers to shoot to kill, detain people with warrants and immunity from prosecution.

State stand on the set up

The state government has been evading the directive under pretext of "specific security situation in the state." In fact in April 2007 in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court the state government had asked for exemption from implementing this directive based on the specific security situation in the state. It had specifically said that the creation of a State Security Commission would "destabilise the current system of coordination and control between the Army, the Central Para-military Forces and local police.

What the court said

In a landmark judgement in 2006, the Supreme court had said that there was "deep rooted problems of politicization, lack of accountability mechanisms and systemic weaknesses that have resulted in poor all round performance and fomented present public dissatisfaction with policing."

It had ordered that: The State Governments are directed to constitute a State Security Commission in every State 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. This watchdog body shall be headed by the Chief Minister or Home Minister as Chairman and have the DGP of the State as its ex-officio Secretary.

The other members of the Commission shall be chosen in such a manner that it is able to function independent of Government control. For this purpose, the State may choose any of the models recommended by the National Human Rights Commission, the Ribeiro Committee or the Sorabjee Committee.

The recommendations of this Commission shall be binding on the State Government.

The functions of the State Security Commission would include laying down the broad policies and giving directions for the performance of the preventive tasks and service oriented functions of the police, evaluation of the performance of the State police and preparing a report thereon for being placed before the State legislature. Selection and Minimum Tenure of DGP.

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