Special Correspondent

Bangalore: Taking exception to the secrecy with which the Karnataka Police (Amendment) Bill 2007 was drafted, a coalition of non-governmental organisations has demanded that the Bill be made public and debated before it is tabled in the Assembly.

Activists who participated in the day-long workshop organised by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) and Coalition of Karnataka NGOs for Better Policing said that the present Bill was in violation of Supreme Court directions to states on police reforms. They resolved to demand redrafting of the Bill honouring the seven directives aimed at strengthening accountability and improving administration of the police force.

Shobha Sharma of the CHRI said that all the directives to the State by the Supreme Court, on drafting a new Police Act, had been diluted in the Bill framed by Karnataka. She said that the number of NGOs in the State Security Commission had been reduced to two. There was no clarity on the criteria for selecting these representatives either, she said. The purpose of forming Police Complaint Authorities, as an oversight body, had been nullified by proposing to nominate three serving officers to it, she added.

Directives on dividing investigation and law and order wings of the police, making the process of appointments to postsmore transparent and free from interference, and the Police Establishment Board to oversee postings, promotions and transfers in the department too had been diluted, she said. The debate that followed focused on whether the existing structures, including National and State Human Rights Commissions, should be strengthened rather than new bureaucratic ones created.