Panaji: Members of various civil societies in Goa Friday demanded that reforms in the proposed Goa Police Bill need to be discussed at grassroot level including in Gram Sabhas and municipal meetings.
"As concerned groups, we welcome the decision of the Government of Goa to revise the proposed Goa Police Bill, and the expressed intention to consult with civil society groups," said a joint statement issued here by the Council for Social Justice and Peace, Citizens` Initiatives for Communal Harmony and The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
The statement further urged that the process of consultation with clearly laid down guidelines, be well publicised and designed to reach out to all segments of the society.
"We call upon people of Goa to seize this moment and give their inputs being the most important stakeholders. It is also important that in tandem the police rank and file is given the opportunity to give inputs into the law governing the Goa Police. We once again demand that police reforms be discussed at gram sabhas and meetings of municipal electorates," it said.
Albertina Almeida of Citizens` Initiatives for Communal Harmony said that whenever it is introduced, the Police Bill 2014 must conform to the Supreme Court directives on police reforms as laid down in the Prakash Singh case.
"To date, Goa has not fully complied with the directives in letter and spirit. The Bill must reflect full compliance with the Court`s directives, besides taking into account the voice of the people of Goa," she added.
Maja Daruwala of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said that drafting of a Police Bill in Goa has been going on for years, and has remained a closed door exercise.
"We urge the Government to reverse this trend now, and give the draft Bill the widest publicity through inviting comments via the Home Department`s website. It must also not limit consultation to bureaucrats, politicians and a set of the `chosen few`," she demanded.
The consultation process must move out of "elite offices" into town halls and village sabhas of both districts. This will really enhance the image of the government and build future confidence in the Goa Police, Daruwala added.
Father Savio Fernandes of the Council for Social Justice and Peace said that keeping in mind the previous flip-flops on a Police Bill in Goa, as concerned groups, we urge all citizens to remain alert and observe Government`s every move on this.
"Press them continuously for broad-based public consultations so all of us can provide input into our police law," he added.