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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Punjab Assembly: Bill on police recruitment, investigation taken up

A special committee presented its report on the Punjab Police Order Amendment Bill 2013 in the assembly after question hour on Wednesday. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The Punjab Assembly has taken up a bill to amend the police recruitment process and set up district-level, unified investigation offices.
A special committee presented its report on the Punjab Police Order Amendment Bill 2013 in the assembly after question hour on Wednesday.
The opposition proposed four amendments to the bill, two of which were defeated and two put off till Thursday, when the house is also expected to approve the legislation.
The amendment bill will allow the government to recruit some 600 sub inspectors (SIs) across the province through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). The bill aims to encourage the recruitment and promotion of educated youths and to improve the quality of criminal investigations.
Under an amendment to Article 7 of the Police Order of 2002, the PPSC will be able to recruit policemen, other than to the ministerial and specialists cadres, in the rank of constable, SI and assistant superintendent of police (ASP). Earlier, direct recruitments could be made only up to the assistant sub inspector (ASI) and ASP ranks.
The selection of constables will be made on the basis of district of domicile. The PPSC will recruit SIs to police regions which cover the candidates’ district of domicile and shall not exceed 50 per cent of the total SI posts. This would mean that, if Lahore say has 500 SIs, then the PPSC will recruit another 250.
Under the amendment bill, 25 per cent of the quota reserved for departmental promotion to the rank of SI shall be filled through selection on merit by the PPSC from among head constables and ASIs who hold bachelor’s degrees. And 25 per cent of departmental promotions to ASI shall be decided by the PPSC from amongst constables and head constables who hold bachelor’s degrees.
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department Director Mohsin Abbas Syed told The Express Tribune that currently, 100 per cent of promotions from constable through to SHO are departmental promotions; the amendment bill would reduce this to 37.5 per cent. Fifty per cent of SIs would be recruited through the PPSC, 12.5 per cent through promotions decided by the PPSC, and the rest through promotions decided by the department itself. The amendment bill will also allow SIs to be appointed as station house officers.
The government also aims to separate the investigation functions of the police through the amendment bill. Currently, each police station has a separate investigation branch. The bill would set up a district investigation branch (DIB) in each district which would function independently of police stations. The DIB would have specialist investigators for each type of crime. Minor offences would be investigated by staff at police stations, but serious offences like murder, terrorism, sectarianism and armed robbery would be investigated by specialist investigators at the DIB. SHOs would be required to hand over such cases to the DIB after registering an FIR.
The inspector general (IG) may notify which offences are to be investigated by officers at the police station and which by the DIB. Each branch will be headed by a superintendent of police (SP), except in the provincial capital, where it will be headed by a deputy inspector general (DIG). The head of the DIB shall be answerable to the district police officer (DPO).
Except for the IG, no officer has the power to assign duty of DIB staff to officers of the operations wing. Earlier, the DPO concerned could change their duty from investigations to operations.
Within seven working days of the filing of an application, the DPO may, after consulting the district standing board and explaining his reasons in writing, transfer the investigation of a case from one investigation officer to another officer or team of officers of an equal or higher rank. Similarly, the regional police officer may transfer a case after consulting the regional standing board, and the IG may transfer a case after consulting the standing review board.
The opposition proposed two delaying amendments – for the bill to be circulated to elicit opinion, and for it to be sent to a select committee. Both were defeated. Two other amendments, proposing that the 25 per cent quota set by the bill for departmental promotion to SI and ASI be doubled to 50 per cent, are to be taken up today (Thursday), after the assembly session resumes.
Speaker Rana Iqbal adjourned Wednesday’s session in the evening so members could attend a dinner in honour of 17 MPAs from Sindh. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah and opposition member Sibtain Khan welcomed the visiting MPAs to the house

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