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Activists urge Governor not to give nod to Maharashtra Police Bill

Mumbai: A delegation of citizen activists, led by former Mumbai Police Commissioner J F Ribeiro, today met Governor K Sankaranarayanan urging him not to give assent to Maharashtra Police (Amendment) Bill 2014, alleging it "was passed in haste without due consideration."

The Bill, passed by both Houses of the state Legislature on June 14 this year, is aimed at giving the citizens of Maharashtra a capable, well managed and accountable police. "The Governor listened to us patiently. He said that due considerations will be given to the discussion we had with him. We have only been trying to press on him to use his powers under Article 200 of the Constitution to withhold his assent to this extremely bad Bill," Maja Daruwala, director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), told PTI.

The Bill is entirely against the directives of the Supreme Court to the state, she said, adding that a bad law will bring about bad policing. Dolphy D'Souza, convener of Police Reforms Watch in Maharashtra, said the Bill formalises the very practices of unwarranted political interference with everyday police management that the Supreme Court has sought to reduce. Hence, it must be overhauled to be made fit for purpose.

CHRI and Police Reforms Watch, the NGOs working on police reforms and accountability, had last week written the Governor, urging him to invoke his powers under Article 200 of the Constitution to withhold his assent to the Bill. They requested him to send the Bill back to the state Legislature for reconsideration, and send recommended changes for both Houses to consider.

Maharashtra Police (Amendment) Bill, 2014, passed by the Assembly, is to replace an ordinance which made amendments to the Maharashtra Police Act, 1951, to set the state on the path of police reforms. It is meant to incorporate the directives of the Supreme Court on police reforms. 

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