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Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021: Decoded

A Bill also goes through a journey before reaching its final destination just like any other thing in the world. For a bill to be implemented for the welfare of the people– it is formatted, checked- rechecked, and then brought to the parliament for discussion before it becomes a law, and that’s a pretty normal process that happens in any democracy. But very rarely any such bill faces such heavy criticism as the latest  Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 is facing in the Bihar Vidhan Sabha. Here, we tried to decode the bill for you so that you can decide whether it is good or “draconian”- as the opposition is claiming it to be.

The Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 was brought by the government to meet the requirements of the state of Bihar which is developing and expanding continuously. It is said that the Bill will be able to strengthen and provide the necessary expertise to the Bihar Police by creating a Special Armed Police Force so that every security domain within the state is looked after well and security requirements of newly launched projects such as metro rails, airports etc, are taken care of. The overall vision of the bill, according to the government, is to create a more disciplined and better organized Special Armed Police Force within the State Police.

Once the bill is passed, the already existing Bihar Military Police will be known as the Bihar Special Police Force, and it’ll obviously have much more power than the former.

The opposition parties of Bihar led by Tejaswi Yadav held a massive protest rally in Patna against the bill. The protests even continued in the state assembly creating a situation of ruckus and chaos while police tried to remove legislators forcefully from the assembly campus. All of this was done to register a strong protest against the passed bill in the assembly, which has several issues and is strongly opposed by the opposition related to increased powers of the police. The most contentious issue between the government and the opposition is related to Section 7 in the bill that empowers the force to arrest any person and search anyone’s premises without a warrant, on the basis of suspicion. According to the rules so far, only the district police had the powers to conduct such arrests, but now this newly-created Special Force has those powers. Apart from this, there are a few more issues that give special powers to the force and even exempt it from judicial scrutiny since the law states that “no court shall take notice of any offence under this Act when the accused person is a special armed police officer except on a report in writing of the facts constituting such offence and with the previous sanction of an officer authorised by the Government in this behalf”. Moreover, according to the bill, the provisions of this Act shall have an overriding effect on all previous laws and references to the Bengal Military Police Act, 1892.

The act ultimately gives more power and protection to the police force and the opposition fears that this level of authorised powers could lead to misuse and exploitation and can have grave consequences over civil liberty and freedom in the state of Bihar.

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