Assembly sessions have been convened and ended. This Budget session of the Goa Legislative Assembly will also conclude on February 10 and yet, the Goa Police Bill will meet the same fate – delay.
Drafted for the third time in the last 16 years, the Bill that aims at police modernization was expected to come up for discussion and subsequent passing in the House this ongoing session.
The new draft is said to have been prepared last year in line with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and was likely to be tabled in the 2023 monsoon session of the Assembly. But it was postponed.
“My Government has initiated the process of drafting the new Goa Police Bill, 2023 in line with the model bill prepared by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had said while presenting the Budget 2023-24 in the House in March 2023.
Sources said that due to a delay by the Goa Police in sending the Bill to the government, the draft has not been reviewed by the Law Department. Thus, the delay, once again.
Besides adhering to MHA guidelines, the draft has a combination of elements from the Delhi Police Act and Manual, the Mumbai Police Act and Manual, and the Indian Police Act and Manual.
In a quick flashback, the Bill had lapsed after the dissolution of the Assembly in 2012 while it has been pending for 16 years despite successive governments fully aware that its passage is crucial for ensuring transparency and accountability in the police force.
It was in 1995 that the then government planned to pattern the Bill on the Singapore model. After several hurdles within the State owing to some controversial provisions, it was sent to the President for assent. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam rejected the Bill.
The State government thereafter re-drafted the Bill in 2008 and tabled it in the Legislative Assembly in 2009. It was immediately sent to the Select Committee, which was headed by the then Home Minister Ravi Naik. Since then it has not seen the light of day. The clause about giving powers of police transfers and postings solely to the Police Establishment Board is reportedly being objected to by politicians across party lines.
Not only the Goa Police Bill, the Goa government was also expected to enact Model Draft Goa Fire and Emergency Services Bill, 2023, in accordance with the MHA guidelines.