The recent promulgation of the Civil Administration Ordinance in the Punjab province and the resentment shown by the young officers of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) kick started a new turf war between the Police Department and the Administrative Services with both the sides vociferously defending their case both in official spectrum as well as on print and electronic media.
All sorts of tactics were employed to influence a favourable outcome for service, office or position. One interest group has particularly shown remarkable regimentation in pushing for its corporate interests by working the media and the political elite. By exerting influence on the decision making process that is by large political in nature and the domain of the elected legislature that corporate interests group or lobby as the journalistic jargon goes is without any doubt Police!
When this ordinance was in making, the Police department went for a massive media campaign with a purpose to exclude itself from the purview of this enactment. In the end, they succeeded in achieving their purpose but the arguments placed by them in their defense were intellectually, legally and factually misleading.
Police another Sacred Cow in the making
For instance, it was portrayed as if the officers of the administrative services through this ordinance wanted to throw Pakistan back to stone age by introducing 'Colonial Deputy Commissioner (DC) System'. By this way, an argument was being reiterated jubilantly that in 2001 after a strenuous struggle of decades we were able to successfully do away with the office of DC – a reminiscent of Colonialism.
However, a rationale analysis of events would suggest that in our march towards ending up 'Colonial office of DC', we ended up creating multiple colonial offices due to blindly following neoliberal approach without bringing a concrete paradigm shift in our socio-cultural dynamic. If DC was colonial heredity then so was SP and the police station itself, and so were the laws Criminal Procedure Code 1898 and Pakistan Penal Code 1860 which empowered DC, why couldn’t these Colonial laws be replaced with people friendly legislation?
The laws are the same, the social indicators are the same but still the cause of abolishing a colonial institution is being championed. This strengthen ones belief in the fact that it was hatred with the offices of the DC and not the factor of love and welfare of the public which compelled the pack up.
The Deputy Commissioner setup was rolled back in 2001 by General Musharraf and Police was made independent through Police Order 2002. But since then no performance audit of the Police Department took place. Even a layman can study the impacts of abolishing the DC system and introduction of Police Order 2002 by searching the answers to the following questions:
1) has law and order situation of the country improved or further deteriorated?
2) has crime rate of rural and urban areas increased or decreased?
3) Has ratio of convictions of criminals increased or decreased?
4) Has the number of deaths in Police Custody increased or decreased?
5) Have we been able to easen-up the access to justice or made it more difficult and expensive?
6) Have we been able to bring any reforms in thana culture?
7)Have we been able to reduce false cases of 9B and 9C of Control of Antinarcotics Act?
8) What had happened to our Prosecution Service?
9) Who didn’t let the Public Safety Commission or Police Complaint Authorities function?
10) What has happened to the begotten word 'writ of the state'?
Have we been able to achieve the goals which were set forth by abolishing that colonial DC and installing Police Order 2002? Or were there any goals at all? Was any ‘Performance Audit’ of police conducted post enactment of 2002 Police Order? Developed worlds conduct post and pre study/research work on introducing a new system.
Contrary to this, the Administrative Services have completely overhauled their ‘Patwaari’ Culture by computerization of Land Record and its positive impacts are visible. On the other hand, on the pattern of Army, the Police Department has started doing commercial ventures such as building commercial plazas, housing societies, rest houses, hotels etc. One question arises in every prudent mind as what legal mandate does a force have to enter into commercial ventures. Is it for safety and protection of these commercial interests that the Police Department is vigorously resisting any civilian oversight?
In addition to this, the Police Department after all lobbying managed to exclude itself from the purview of this new ordinance. However, the legal standing is quite contrary to their stance. As per the Punjab Government Rules of Business 2011, Police is an attached department of provincial Home Ministry. Though no denying the fact, under the Police Order 2002 IGP was given the status of ex-officio secretary of the Police Department yet this didn’t confer a supra-departmental status on police so in legal parlance it has to be treated as a department like Health, Education, Food, Irrigation etc. Therefore, if other provincial departments are brought under the ambit of this new ordinance, how can Police be excluded? Is it a sacred cow resisting oversight, indulging in commercial ventures and protecting its commercial interests?
Moreover, confusion is being created by some political parties as if this ordinance is an attempt of the Punjab government to control the newly elected local governments. It’s a misconception because the supervision of the local bodies and Police department is excluded from the functions of deputy commissioner or commissioner in the definitional clause of the ordinance.
A deeper appreciation of this newly enacted Civil Administration Ordinance would unveil that it has weakened the executory tier of the Government i.e. Assistant Commissioner. Consequently, the government initiatives ranging from Polio eradication, elimination of Dengue, Anti food adulteration, price control, anti-quackery, crackdown on child labor, elimination of illiteracy, land revenue collection, Census etc. would badly suffer . So for effective service delivery, the young officers of the Administrative service are justified in demanding powers of Justice of Peace, creation of Service Delivery Assistance Units and powers under section 14 Criminal Procedure Code. If given these powers, the speedy justice, efficient service delivery and effective governance would be ensured. Otherwise, this may throw the province into a governance crisis and administrative chaos. However, the efficiency shown by the police department in the controlling the dharnites in lockdown move of the PTI and the factor of the upcoming 2018 makes Police a blue eyed child of Political Elite.