Police positive yet apprehensive
Police personnel from different tiers have welcomed the Supreme Court's landmark verdict on police's powers concerning arrest, detention in custody and remand, but said the provision for making arrests on suspicion is necessary for tackling crimes.
They also stressed the need for using the law with greater supervision to stop its misuse.
Some of them said the verdict would help bring transparency in police's activities as they would have to gather evidence before arresting anyone.
At the same time, police have to adopt new strategies for detaining criminals, as the suspects proved to be the actual criminals in many cases in the past, they said.
A number of them said police would face some difficulties once the relevant law is amended.
The police have lost the century-old discretionary powers concerning arrest, detention in custody and remand, as the SC on Tuesday upheld a High Court verdict against the arbitrary use of sweeping authority.
The HC verdict delivered on April 7, 2003 asked the government to amend some provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) of 1898, which provided the police with the controversial powers, for their inconsistency with the constitution.
Several police officials said the SC judgment would discourage dishonest policemen from making arbitrary arrests and issuing threats of torture on arrestees during remand.
However, an official of the rank of superintendent of police said, “These dishonest policemen will surely find new ways and use the loopholes of other laws to continue the malpractice.
The officer referred to other provisions such as section 100 of The Dhaka Metropolitan Police Ordinance, 1976, and section 34 of The Police Act, 1861, which give police powers to arrest any person from any place without warrants.
“Now police will have to show a suspect arrested directly in cases over murder or robbery. So, it will be difficult for the arrestee to get released until police submit a charge sheet or final report in important cases,” said the officer on condition of anonymity.
Earlier, police could release a person during investigation in a case, he said, adding that the arrestee now would have to spend a lot of money to continue legal battle.
Talking to this correspondent, a deputy commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said police would now think twice before arresting any criminal even after knowing his whereabouts, as they have to first gather evidence against him.
Wishing anonymity, an assistant commissioner of the DMP's Detective Branch said, “The verdict will definitely bring transparency in the activities of the police but it would stand as an obstacle to arresting criminals on suspicion and gleaning information from them.”
Bhuiyan Mahbub Hasan, officer-in-charge of Mirpur Police Station, said the verdict would stop misuse of the law.
He thinks their normal activities wouldn't be hampered because of the changes in the law.
Police don't need to torture people on remand, rather they would get the necessary information using their skills, he said.
Devdas Battacharia, additional commissioner (Crime and Operation) of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, lauded the verdict, and said it would help defuse criticism that stems from irresponsible behaviour of some cops.
“The police work for the state and the people. Following the verdict, police will work more cautiously which would ultimately defuse criticism against police”, the official added.
A sub-inspector of Kotwali Police Station said the verdict would bring positive changes in police. The officer, however, feared that police would face difficulties in arresting culprits in many cases.
Asked, Inspector General of Police AKM Shahidul Hoque said he wouldn't make any comment until he received a copy of the verdict.