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Metropolitan Police

Metropolitan Police the special police force for the capital city and other metropolitan cities in Bangladesh. The concept of metropolitan police dates back to 1856 when separate police forces were constituted by an Act for the Indian cities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. It is to be noted that separate police forces were established only in the presidency towns. It was in 1861 that the Police Act was put in place providing for constitution, functions and administration of police forces for the whole of India.

In Bangladesh an ordinance was promulgated on 20 January 1976 to provide for the constitution of a separate police force for Dhaka metropolitan area. The establishment of a separate police for Dhaka had major implications: (a) The Police Act, 1861 was made inapplicable for the Dhaka metropolitan area; (b) Jurisdiction of the district magistrate was barred in certain cases; (c) Superintendence of metropolitan police was vested in the government while the administration of the force was left to the police commissioner. In a similar way separate metropolitan police was established in Chittagong (1978), Khulna (1984) and in Rajshahi (1992). The major deficiency of 1976 Ordinance was the barring of the jurisdiction of the district magistrate. This could not be done without providing for a separate establishment of the metropolitan magistracy for Dhaka metropolitan area. Consequently, the criminal procedure code was amended in 1976. The amendment provided for a separate magistracy under chief metropolitan magistrate supported by a number of metropolitan magistrates.

By December 1999, Dhaka metropolitan police had 21 police stations, Chittagong had 6, Khulna 5, and Rajshahi 4. The personnel strength of the metropolitan police set up was 17,810 in Dhaka, 4141 in Chittagong 2142 in Khulna and 962 in Rajshahi.

The metropolitan police force consists of two categories of officers. The first category consists of the police commissioner, additional police commissioners, deputy police commissioners and assistant police commissioners. The police commissioner is required to exercise his powers subject to the control of the inspector general of police. The second category consists of subordinate officers like inspector, sub-inspector, sergeant, assistant sub-inspector, head constable and the constable. The appointment of the inspector is made by the police commissioner. Other ranks below the inspector can be appointed by the deputy police commissioner if authorised in writing by the police commissioner.

There can be transfers to and from the metropolitan police force. Such transfers can be made by the government or the inspector general of police depending upon the rank and status of officers involved. The police commissioner is authorised to make regulations not inconsistent with the Act covering a wide range of areas. The objective is to maintain public order and to prevent crime or other activities that tend to create obstruction to peaceful living in the city. Some specific examples include powers to prohibit (a) carrying of arms and explosives, (b) public utterance of cries, singing of songs or playing of music, (c) assembly and processions. Many of the powers given under special laws earlier exercised by a district magistrate have now been given to the police commissioner. An important example is the one relating to the authority to use military force to disperse unlawful assembly in the interest of public security.

The metropolitan police law provides for punishments in case of contravention of the provisions of the law. Some of these provisions relate to the misuse of power by the members of the force. Specific punishments are prescribed in the law for offences committed by the members of the force. These offences include unlawful entry and search, vexatious search and detention, personal violence, threat and unnecessary delay in forwarding an arrested person to the metropolitan courts. The fundamental difference between metropolitan police and that constituted under the Police Act of 1861 lie in the command and control of the police force and its relationship with the magistracy. The police force constituted under Act of 1861 is subject, in certain cases, to the control of the district magistrate. This relationship is elaborately defined under Police Regulation of Bengal, 1943 as adopted in Bangladesh. Metropolitan police force is not subject to any such magisterial control. In case of the metropolitan area, the metropolitan magistrates are subordinate to the chief metropolitan magistrate and not to the district magistrate. [AMM Shawkat Ali]