Politics

UP SSF: CRACKDOWN ON CRITICS?

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Ever since Yogi Adityanath became the CM of Uttar Pradesh, he and his government has faced a lot of controversies regarding the handling of law and order or other issues be it Gorakhpur Hospital Tragedy, Unnao case(Kuldeep Singh Sengar) or the recent Vikas Dubai encounter.

However, formation of SSF has led to lot of criticism from the Congress party and Samajwadi Party.

WHAT IS UP SSF?

We can have a look how the UP-SSF turned out:

26th June : Yogi Adityanath asked for CISF like force to guard vital installation

30th June: State okayed creation of eight battalion force with five battalion force comprising about 9,900personnel

A bill to create the force was passed in the monsoon session of state assembly.

31 st August : State was notified

  • Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi on 13th September 2020 (Sunday) had directed the director- general of police to prepare a road map in next three days.
  • UP SSF is formed to guard the vital installations such as courts, airports, banks, the Metro, industrial units, places of worship, as well as individuals.
  • UP Government claimed that Maharashtra and Odisha had similar force.

UP SSF WILL BE LED BY:

Additional General Level- officer under whom would be the Inspector General

Inspector General -: under whom would be the Deputy Inspector General

Deputy Inspector General under whom would be the commandant

Commandant under whom would be the Deputy Commandant

Deputy Commandant[i][ii]

NEED HAVE UP SSF:

  • UP SSF is needed to guard vital installations.
  • UP SSF comes out in the back drop of Allahabad High court’s directive in December 2019.
  • As per the UP SSF Act, the force has been constituted to provide, “better protection and security of a body or a person, or the residential premises” notified by the state government, and vital installations including courts, “administrative offices, shrines, Metro rail, airports, banks, other financial institutions, industrial undertaking,”
  • The act lays down its purpose as “to maintain the smooth and strong security arrangements of the vital establishments and of notified persons, as at the Centre and in other states, there is no special security force established in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
  • “The work of protecting these sites and persons is being done by the police and Pradesh Provincial Armed Constabulary Force, which are not specially trained and skilled for this task.”
  • It also cited the direction of high court while taking suo-moto cognizance of security condition.

THE ‘CONTRAVERSIAL’ ASPECT OF UP SSF:

  • If we look at UP SSF, its main function is to guard the VITAL INSTALLATIONS, but certain sections have seem to be created a controversy of:
  • Subsection (1) of section 10 (“Power to arrest without warrant”) of the UP SSF Act says “Any member of the force may, without any order from a Magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person, who voluntarily causes hurt…”, or a person against whom there is a “reasonable suspicion”, or any person, who attempts to “commit a cognizable offence”
  • The force will also have right to remove the ‘TRESPASSERS’ under this protection.

CERTAIN SIMILARITIES:

  • But however, this is much similar to the CISF ACT 1968, Maharashtra State Security Corporation Act 2010.
  • If we compare some Section (10) with section 11 of CISF Act 1968, which lays down “POWER TO ARREST WITHOUT WARRANT”  It says “Any member of the Force may, without any order from a magistrate and without a warrant, arrest (i) any person who voluntarily causes hurt to, or attempts voluntarily to cause hurt to, or wrongfully restrains or attempts to wrongfully to restrain or assaults, or uses, or threatens or attempts to use criminal force to any employee”, or any person against whom there is “reasonable suspicion”, or any persons who attempt to “commit a cognizable offence
  • Section 16 of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation Act, 2010, under the “Power to arrest without warrant”, says: “The procedure and power to arrest shall be exercised by the members of the security force as provided under Chapter V of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.”
  • Like the CISF Act and Maharashtra Act, even in UP SSF,
  • After an arrest is made, the member shall: (i) handover the arrested person to a police officer, or (ii) arrange for him to be taken to the nearest police station, accompanied by a report on the circumstances of arrest.

CERTAIN DIFFERNCES:

  • Even the SSF is similar to CISF ACT and Maharashtra Act in sections regarding ARREST AND SEARCH
  • If we look at CISF and Odisha Industrial Force are meant to protect ‘INDUSTRIAL INSTALLATIONS/UNDERTAKNG’ while Maharashtra State Security Force corporation protects State and Central Government offices, undertakings, establishments, institutions, employees of all such establishments, Public Sector Undertakings, Vital Installations, Financial Institutions, Religious Institutions, Cultural Institutions, Medical Institutions or commercial establishment like Malls, Multiplexes, Clubs and Hotels etc.”
  • But if we look at the UP SSF, their job is to not only protect the vital installations such as courts, airports, banks, the metro, industrial units, places of worship) they also have a wider objective to protect indidvuals on the basis of request and they have to pay for it.
  • “Deployment of the Force to provide service to Private Establishments:  The Ordinance authorises the DGP to deploy the force for the protection of private industrial establishments upon request.  The private establishment will be required to pay a prescribed fee for the service.  An establishment is defines as any public or private building or premises of an organisation serving purposes, such as: (i) educational, (ii) commercial, (iii) recreational, (iv) philanthropic, and (v) cultural.  This includes any place of public congregation, or a mass transit system, as notified by the state government.”
  • Also the Maharashtra Act defines Vital Installations as “establishments, which if damaged or sabotaged, affect the economy, safety and security of the country or state”

PROTECTION AVAILABLE TO FORCE:

  • The UP SSF Act gives PROTECTION to the force, the court can’t take any ‘COGNIZANCE’ of any offence against any member of the force without any approval from state government.
  • Section 15 “No suit or prosecution shall lie against any officer or member of the force or against any person on acting under the order or the direction of any officer or member of the force for anything, which is done or intended to be done in good faith”.
  • Section 16 says: “No court shall take cognizance of an offence against any member of the force” for action taken in the discharge of his duties”
  • However in case of CISF, if any “SUIT OR PROCEEDING” is pending against any officer, he gets the opportunity to plead that his action was under orders from a competent authority, so such plea would have to prove by “proved by the production of the order directing”.
  • This legal procedure must begin, within three months of commission of the act or filing of complain.
  • Odisha Industrial Security Force also provides the similar protection with that of UP SSF.

OPINIONS:

Two officers who have been critical of current UP government (Yogi Government), have termed it as ‘NOT PARTICULARY WORRYING’

  • Vibhuti Narayan Rai, former Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police, said the Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force is nothing but a ‘watch and ward’ force. “You can call it a chowkidar force,” talking to a portal he said “much like the Central Industrial Security Force and Railway Protection Force.
  • S.R. Darapuri, former Inspector General of UP Police, echoed Rai’s comments about the force. “It is nothing but a government security agency, much like private security agencies, whose primary duty would be to look after, guard and protect government installations such as courts, metro, government offices, and so on.”
  • “Even after a search and arrest, the UPSSF will have to hand over the person(s) to local police, after which normal procedure will follow,” said Darapuri.
  • Both of the officers maintained that UP SSF will in no way replace the role of state police which has powers of investigation and prosecution as per the CrPc. Both said that power to arrest and search is needed without it.
  • Remembering his earlier days at police service he told that effort was discussed long back but didn’t materlize due to one reason or order.
  • As per his opinion, this is needed because in absence of it the police personnel have to be diverted for non-policing work such as governing government installation.
  • Criticizing the government’s decision, opposition termed it as a ‘BETRAYAL’
  • Congress went on comparing the SSF with the Rowlatt Act of 1919 which gave British power to detain and jail people for indefinite period of time without fair trial.
  • While many pointed out that SSF could be misused, here what Mr. Rai had to say, “The Yogi government does not need a new one for that? It already has a state police force with substantial powers, to be misused.”

MY TAKE ON UP SSF:

  • UP-SSF is similar to CISF Act and Maharashtra Act, in terms of its arrest and search warrant however it differs in aspect of guarding installations and it differs regarding protection of officers.
  • After going through all this, what came to my mind was why much controversy was created? Sections regarding ARREST AND SEARCH WITHOUT WARRANT already existed as compared earlier even though I am in slight disagreement with Section 15 and 16 of UP SSF unlike CISF where the officer gets chance to plead, if any suit or proceeding is against him.  Even though it would be really wrong to judge the intention now even before UP SSF comes into action.
  • To compare it with UP-SSF with Draconian Rowaltt Act would be really wrong.
  • What I think is, this is because of perception of Yogi Government handling certain issues which led to controversy and rightly so VIKAS DUBEY encounter and  Governments handling on Unnao case.
  • What I think is, It’s too early to judge about UP-SSF, and what I only hope is that this in real good interest of citizens of Uttar Pradesh and is not used as an instrument as ‘CRACKDOWN ON DISSENT’.

Bhargavi Bhajpai – Writer Bharat Bhagya Vidhata

REFERNCES/ FURTHER READ:


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