Panaji: The Roman
Catholic Church in Goa Saturday said the draft state police bill
had "several defects" and criticised the select committee of the
legislature for not holding public consultations on the proposed
The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a social
organisation of the church, in an official communique issued here
expressed "serious disappointment in the Select Committee of the
Goa State Assembly on the Police Bill 2008 which has failed to
hold public debates and consultations on the draft Goa Police Bill
2008 and invite public submissions on the type of police service
"It is widely accepted that it is untenable to continue to police
the citizens of India under the Police Act of 1861, which was
drafted by the colonial authorities. We welcomed the initiative to
introduce the Goa Police Bill which was intended to provide the
people of Goa with better policing, however, the Bill in its
present form has several defects," Fr Maverick Fernandes,
executive secretary of the CSJP, said.
"It (the bill) does not reflect the principles of democratic
policing; it undermines civil liberties, gives additional power to
the police without ensuring the requisite accountability. All
these factors together ensure that police functioning will not
improve and will continue to remain a force that imposes law
instead of becoming a service that upholds the law," he said.
The bill, which was introduced in the state assembly in 2008, had
been referred to the Select Committee, chaired by Home Minister
"Several citizen groups and individuals requested the Select
Committee to hold public debate to gather the say of the people.
This has not been acted upon," Fernandes said.
Civic rights activists and human rights experts have also opposed
the bill, which proposes Special Security Zones (SSZs) as well as
a State Security Commission (SSC), to lay down broad guidelines
for police's functioning.
NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) said that while
the SSZs could be misused by the state government to curb
legitimate opposition in areas affected by indiscriminate and
illegal mining, the composition of the SSC, as envisioned in the
bill, was lopsided in favour of the political establishment.