Home Dept shenanigans

The Meghalaya Police Act is a mischievous piece of document that was hurriedly passed without any public consultation. It calls for some action from civil society groups. The Act was notified in February this year. Amongst the several reforms that the Act seeks to bring is the creation of a State Security Commission which would create a buffer between the police and government. The Police Reforms Act is an outcome of a case filed by a former Director General of Police (DGP), Prakas Singh in the Supreme Court. On 22 September 2006, the apex court delivered a historic judgment instructing central and state governments to comply with a set of seven directives laying down practical mechanisms to kick-start police reforms. The Court’s directives seek to achieve two main objectives: functional autonomy for the police – through security of tenure, streamlined appointment and transfer processes, and the creation of a “buffer body” between the police and the government – and enhanced police accountability, both for organisational performance and individual misconduct.

The State Security Commission in Meghalaya is chaired by the Chief Minister with the Home Minister as the Vice Chairman, the Leader of the Opposition, the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Home)/ Secretary Home as members. Two non-political, non-official members and persons with proven record of integrity are to be appointed by a Selection Committee comprising the Chief Secretary, Principle Secretary/Secretary (Home) and a retired chief justice/justice to be nominated by the Chief Justice of the Gauhati High Court. The two independent nominees should be persons from the legal profession, academics, media, NGO etc. Funnily, one of the independent members is a retired chief secretary who has had the most controversial innings in his tenure. The other member is a lesser known lawyer. This effectively means that the dice is loaded in favour of the government insofar as appointment of the DGP or his posting and transfer is concerned. Whichever way we look at it, the Government always wins, especially a Government that is hell bent on bulldozing its way through despite adverse public opinion. It has also been observed that some retired bureaucrats who have done enough damage to the state during their careers lie in wait at the corridors of power hoping to pick up the crumbs from the high table. Despite much talk of transparency the notification appointing the two independent members to the State Security Commission never made it to the media and remains a closely guarded secret. May we ask why?

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