State retreats on internal security draft, CM says parties to discuss it first
The draft new law, a first by any state, had irked the opposition and activists alike as it gave greater powers to the police with provisions like declaring special security zones in areas facing insurgency and organised crime.mumbai Updated: Aug 26, 2016 17:39 IST
The state government decided to beat a hasty retreat on its draft of the new internal security law that has faced mounting criticism from the Opposition and even ally Shiv Sena.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, also in charge of the home department on Thursday issued directives that the draft law will now be placed before a committee made up of all political parties in the state for discussion before it is even discussed by the cabinet, after which it will go through a round of public consultation before it gets tabled before the legislature.
The draft new law, a first by any state, had irked the opposition and activists alike as it gave greater powers to the police with provisions like declaring special security zones in areas facing insurgency and organised crime. In such SSZs, the draft said that a police command would be created with greater powers to the force and special rules including a ban on entry of chemicals, devices, and in flow of funds. There was a provision that gave police powers to punish those who impersonated them even for entertainment and for banking assembly of 100 persons in such securities areas.
Fadnavis’ decision comes a day after Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray in the party mouthpiece Saamna termed the law as ushering in times even worse than emergency.
This is the second time that the home department has burnt it’s fingers over a rule that has been interpreted as draconian. Last year, the state invited flak over a circular on sedition that said that critiquing public representatives of police could be considered seditious. This circular was also taken back by Fadnavis.
“If the plan goes through, Maharashtra will be ruled by the police instead of being governed by law. People will have to keep going to the police for permissions even for events such as weddings, naming ceremonies, lunches and dinners. People will have to seek the government’s permission even to be able to breathe freely. This is worse than the extremism of even the India Gandhi government in 1975,” the editorial from Saamna reads.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led party said every person has the right to personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian constitution. “Any government that seeks to quash this has no right to play politics by installing a grand statue of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar,” the Shiv Sena said, taking a dig at the BJP’s constant references to the architect of the constitution and credit-taking for speedy clearances for his long-pending memorial at Indu Mills in Dadar.
Experts, activists and opposition parties such as the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) too have flayed some of the provisions in the proposed Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act, calling them ‘draconian’ that could turn Maharashtra into a ‘police’state. Both Congress and NCP have demanded that the draft be taken back in toto as the state has no need for a separate law on internal security.