Centre seeks states` views on intervening in riot

The Centre has sought views of the state govt on various issues including enacting a law to empower it to directly intervene in cases of riots.

New Delhi: The Centre has sought views of the state governments on various issues including enacting a law to empower it to directly intervene in cases of riots and possible breakdown of constitutional machinery, as per the recommendations of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission.
The other issues on which it has sought comments include separation of crime investigation from other policing functions, constitution of a Municipal Police Service, abolition of "orderly system" and increasing women`s representation to 33 per cent in police forces.

The Home Ministry has posted a report titled "Public Order: Justice for each, Peace for all" of the 2nd Administrative Reforms Commission on its website saying out of 165 recommendations, 13 recommendations relate to the Centre and the remaining 152 recommendations relate to states which require consultations.

"A law should be enacted to empower the Union Government to deploy its forces and to even direct such forces in case of major public order problems which may lead to the breakdown of the constitutional machinery in state.

"However, such deployment should take place only after the state concerned fails to act on a `direction` issued by the Union under Article 256 of the Constitution. All such deployments should be only for a temporary period not exceeding three months, which could be extended by another three months after authorisation by Parliament," the report said.

Law and order is a state subject and in the recent past the Centre`s move to operationalise anti-terror hub NCTC which would have given overarching powers to central agencies faced strong opposition of several Chief Ministers including Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), J Jayalalitha (Tamil Nadu) and Narendra Modi (Gujarat), who claimed it will hurt the federal structure.

Opinions of the state governments were sought on framing comprehensive guidelines for regulation of processions, protest marches and morchas.

The report said that guidelines should include preparatory steps (through intelligence sources), serious consultation and attempts to arrive at agreement with the groups/ communities involved, regarding route, timing and other aspects of procession. They should also cover prohibition of provocative slogans or acts as well as carrying of lethal weapons.

"Organisations and persons found guilty of instigating violence should be liable to pay exemplary damages. The damages should be commensurate with the loss caused by such violence. The law should provide for distribution of the proceeds of damages to the victims of such violence," it said.

If violence erupts, then the first priority should be to quickly suppress the violence. In cases of communal violence, the situation should be brought under control by effective use of force. If the situation so warrants, the forces of the Union and the Army should be requisitioned and used without any reluctance or delay.

No government functionary shall issue any instructions to any police functionary which are illegal or malafide. "Obstruction of justice" should also be defined as an offence under the law.

In case of major breakdown of public order, the State Police Complaints Authority should take appropriate action to fix responsibility on the police officers for lapses in acting upon intelligence or on the intelligence officers in case there has been a failure on their part, the report recommended.