The Chief Ministers’ meeting on Monday to discuss and evolve the consensus on Public order and Police reforms as recommended by the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) proved to be a dud show with several chief ministers staying away from the day-long conference.
In the high-level meeting, non-Congress states launched an offensive against the UPA Government while rejecting the recommendations on police reforms by the ARC saying the intrusive measures infringe upon the states’ powers.
Chief ministers of Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Tripura trashed several recommendations which were gathering dust for six long years. The Home Ministry in 2012 had invited all CMs to discuss 153 recommendations of ARC on police reforms, management of public order, reforms in the criminal justice system, federal crimes and special laws and the role of civil society and media in the management of public order.
Revealing growing distrust between non-Congress states and Congress-led Central Government over police and public order, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said these recommendations are against the principles of federalism of the country.
Nitish, who skipped the meeting but sent his speech, took a dig at the Centre saying it is difficult to comprehend why so much delay has taken place in discussing the report which was submitted way back in 2007.
Disapproving the recommendation of categorising some offences as federal crimes and to enact a new law to empower investigative agencies, Nitish said the system already exists with adequate provisions to deal with such cases.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik too opposed the enactment of new laws. Patnaik said police is a state subject and accordingly enactment of new laws to deal with federal crimes as recommended by the commission is not acceptable.
“NIA Act is addressing these matters and no new legislation is necessary,” Patnaik said. Madhya Pradesh also hit out at the Centre saying despite law and order being a state subject the Centre keeps sending impractical suggestions. Opposing various recommendations of the ARC, Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said he did not support the idea of empowering the Centre to deploy its forces in case of major problems.
Shinde Allays States’ Fears
Despite scathing attack on Centre for usurping state powers, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde tried to allay the apprehensions of state governments assuring that no recommendation of ARC on Public order and Police reforms will be implemented without their full consent. “On issues where the Chief Ministers have objections we should not go ahead and should move only after the concurrence of the states,” Shinde said.