The Islamabad High Court has granted one week to the federal government to submit a reply regarding the implementation of the Police Act 2002. At the time of its introduction in 2002, it was hoped that the Act would usher in a new era of policing; one that would end the colonial legacy and transform the police from an adversarial and “repressive entity to an accountable and responsive setup”. To make it accountable, Public Safety and Police Complaints Commissions were to be established at district and provincial levels, which would function without political interference.

Unfortunately, efforts at depoliticisation through the Police Act 2002 were seriously undermined with the extensive Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance 2005 that altered 54 articles of the original Act. The reintroduction of politicians in Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission and their influence over Performance Evaluation Reports (PERs) for police officers can often do more harm than good. The Act aimed to bring about separation of police and magistracy in order to remove the outdated law of dual control that is results in waste of time and inefficiency. Another key feature of the reform was the separation of Investigation and Watch and Ward at the police station level. This is critical in order to ensure continuity and efficiency in handling investigations. The investigation staff cannot perform its role if it is expected to perform a variety of other routine duties. There is a need for professional training and adaptation of modern forensic science to make investigation and prosecution more effective.

As Justice Athar Minallah observed, the police are misused by the VIPs and lack the resources to carry out their work, which hurts the citizens and incentivises corruption. It is hoped that the federal government will take necessary steps to implement the Police Act 2002 to ensure that the rights of citizens are protected and justice is delivered without delay.