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MPISA, 2016: Boon or bane?

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The Maharashtra government once again seems to be courting controversy.  In 2015, it had to withdraw a circular on sedition laws – which had billed legitimate criticism of an elected government and its political leadership as seditious.    

Now in 2016, the government has once again triggered a debate by putting up the draft of the Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act (MPISA), 2016 in the public domain. The draft has attracted widespread criticism from stakeholders, including NGOs, and the public at large. Maharashtra is incidentally the first state in India to draft its own internal security act.

Certain provisions that were proposed seem arbitrary and may impinge upon the rights of citizens. Here are some objectionable provisions:

  • The government will make “special security zones” where the movement of funds as well as arms and explosives will be supervised. And importantly, any intended congregation of more than 100 people will need prior police permission.
  • Every public establishment and government office shall carry out the security audit of its premises through the Corporation established under the provisions of the Maharashtra State Security Corporation (MSSC) Act 2010. And every such public establishment and government office shall pay to the MSSC the charges for such an audit.
  • Every owner or other person in charge of the premises of the public establishment, shall, store or cause to be stored, the video footage of public activities, properly for a period of 30 days, and provide the same as and when required by an officer in-charge of the concerned police station, having jurisdiction over the area or any other authority as may be notified by the Government.
  • Every owner or other person in charge of the premises of the public establishment shall file periodical returns in such a manner and in such form as may be prescribed, certifying that the public safety measures are provided, properly maintained and the relevant equipment are in working condition, once in every six months, to the officer-in-charge of the police station, having jurisdiction over the area: provided that, every such person shall, within a period of six months from the date of commencement of this Act shall submit the returns to the concerned officer-in-charge of the police station.

Besides these provisions, the other big question – is there a guarantee that MPISA will not clash with several Central laws pertaining to internal security. And will MPISA be suitable for all the central investigating and enforcement agencies. Certainly, MPISA will have to pass many tests before being enforced, perhaps even prematurely withdrawn.            

—By Punit Mishra  

Lead picture: Maharashtra Police detaining Congress members during a protest in Mumbai. Photo: UNI

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