police powers

Topics: Police, Constable, Police officer Pages: 8 (1543 words) Published: April 27, 2014

With intervening dictators and historical autocracy, it is now after sixty five years of independence that Pakistan has evolved to a culture “partially” democratic. The military and police institutions must function under rule of law in order to uphold legitimate separation of powers.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the term Police as, “the civil force of a state, responsible for the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order.”1 With its roots from the Greek word “polis” it was first used in Scotland in the Eighteenth century.


After 1857, the British Empire conquered the Indian Sub-Continent and promulgated the Police Act 1861 after the recommendations given by the Police Commission brought up in 1860. However, later many loopholes were identified in the enacted law. The primary concern of the critics related to the autonomy of the organization because of paramount political interference.2

Soon after independence in 1947, rigorous efforts were made to reform the Police Force. Although innumerable committees and commissions were appointed, any concrete measure on the part of the government to change the law remained obscure and vague

The need of a competent organization which operated neutrally and was free of any political pressures led the government to set up the “Focal Group on Police Reforms” in 1999 which came up with its recommendations in February 2000.3 These recommendations were given effect by the promulgation of the Police Order 2002 which repealed and replaced the Police Act 1861, envisaged to make the Police professionally proficient, publicly accountable, operationally independent and neutral, and organizationally unified.

The paramount objective of the Police Order 2002 was the reconstruction and regulation of the Police Forces operating within Pakistan. The primary objectives prevalent in the Order included, inter-alia, accountability; defined roles, maintenance of public order service orientation and prevention and detection of crime. The duties of police under the 2002 Order were redefined making it mandatory to render preventive, protective and social services.4

The response to the Police Order 2002 was not without its difficulties. One main point of concern was that it did not state any concrete rule regarding the “necessity of arrest”. Consequently, The Police Order 2002 was amended by the Amendment Ordinance 2007; nonetheless the conditions for arrest largely remained dependent on the discretion of the police officer. POLICE POWERS IN PAKISTAN

The two important powers given to the Police are of arrest and detention. The people exercising these powers must show a consistent commitment to the legal principles enshrined under the framework of law. Application of law requires absolute knowledge of it. In order to meet the standards of fairness when exercising the power to arrest and to detain entails a substantial amount of respect for the rules which govern our social conduct as it infringes the liberty of the people suffering. Thus, stringent criteria must be met before police officers can exercise these powers.

The important case of Hazoor Buksh Malik5 in Pakistan clearly exhibits how insensitive and callous and police system that exists for its own sake can become.6 Although the case was highlighted by various Non-Government Organizations, all efforts went in vein, leaving behind certain doubts, primary such as, can anyone succeed against the unaccountable abuse of power exercised by police officers?7 The impending question is, Can Pakistan adopt a system similar to UK, since our constitution is preamble of rules of the British Reign?


In the United Kingdom, the investigative powers of the police include arrest, detention, interrogation, entry and search of premises, personal search and the taking of samples. These powers are principally governed by the...
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