Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 to suppress dissent : NAPM

The state and Center are working together to advance draconian police action and legislation that enables police impunity in the state.

Image courtesy: NAPM

National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) in a statement condemned the ‘high-handed and undemocratic passing’ of the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 by the Bihar Assembly and the violence meted out to the opposing voices by the police on March 23, 2021. NAPM noted that the process through which the Bill was passed, after humiliating and assaulting elected representatives, ‘goes against all parliamentary traditions and constitutional precedents, while its content effectively turns Bihar into a Police Raj.’

Ironically this happened on Martyrs’ day when the whole country was paying its respects to Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru; this was also the day famous socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia was born. 

Also read: Criminalising Public Protests in Bihar: Nitish Govt’s New Circular

The Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 introduced by the Nitish Kumar government, gives unconstitutional powers to arrest any person on mere suspicion; arrest without a warrant and conduct searches and arrests without warrant. The Bill grants the ‘Special Armed Police’ impunity. No Court shall take cognizance of offenses committed by a special armed police officer. That means that even if a special armed police officer commits multiple offenses, the public cannot approach the court for justice.

NAPM noted that this Bill gravely undermines the constitutional and legal protection each citizen is granted, and provides legal armour and justification for unbridled state and central powers to suppress any dissent or opposition from human rights activists, intellectuals, students, writers, artists, and any independent voices who oppose or criticize the policies of the government. Undoubtedly, the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 is a harmful, dangerous, and unjust manifestation of authoritarianism and arbitrariness.

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The Bill was met with strong opposition, both within and outside the House, where a rally was taken out.  The participants in the rally were subjected to police violence at the behest of the ruling alliance, which includes the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Janata Dal (United). Protesters within the Assembly faced similar violence as the police were called to remove them from the session.

Instead of addressing attacks on the Bihar Assembly, an important institution of democracy, the police targeted legislators, including women and older people. This incident is an insult to the votes of crores of people whose elected representative MLAs appear in recorded footage being kicked, dragged and beaten with shoes by the Chief Minister’s police. Following the incident, CM Nitish Kumar issued a statement ‘justifying’ the police action, clearly indicating that the Speaker allowed the police excesses, at the behest of the ruling party. All of this also proves that the state and Center are working together to advance draconian police action and legislation that enables police impunity in the state. 

National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements demands that:

(i) the undemocratic Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021 be withdrawn immediately.

(ii) the Chief Minister and Speaker issue an apology to the opposition legislators, the House and the people of Bihar for this shameful act in the Bihar Legislative Assembly and acknowledge that their actions have compromised the dignity of the House and democracy.

(iii) the Chief Minister ensures an inclusive, violence-free and appropriate debate in the House before any modifications to the powers given to the police are considered.

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April 2024



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