KATHMANDU, Nov 16: Despite repeated attempts to acquire magisterial powers and to act as a quasi-judicial body, the Metropolitan Police has remained a ‘toothless’ entity for over a decade.
Designed under the urban policing concept and established in 2007, the Metropolitan Police in Kathmandu Valley, has been functioning only as a coordinating body for police units.
“We were supposed to have quasi-judicial and magisterial powers but stakeholders in the government and the bureaucracy were not in any position to give us the ‘teeth’ to maintain law and order in the Valley,” AIG Pratap Singh Thapa, chief police commissioner, said at a function marking the 11th Metro Police Day in Kathmandu, Wednesday.
Several reports have been prepared with government stakeholders and experts to realize the metro police concept but these have remained useless, he stressed.
The police leadership has been raising issues such as authorizing political gatherings and protests, imposing curfews when necessary, exercising preventive detention powers, and licensing hotels, lodges, massage parlours and entertainment businesses, among other things. As per the metro police concept, police in the Valley have also sought an end to the dual command system.
The existing legal provisions vest these powers in the district administration office rather than in a unitary command system that makes the police commissioner solely responsible for command and control.
Amidst immense pressure to maintain security along with the growing population and increasing urban activities in the Valley, the police have been facing new challenges every day, SSP Pitambar Adhikari, chief of Metropolitan Police Range Office, Lalitpur, said adding that it would be difficult to face the challenges in the days to come unless a metropolitan police act kicks in.
The police leadership expressed frustration and claimed that they were left with slim hope. They stressed that with quasi-judicial powers they would be able to ensure swift and effective justice delivery, lessen the regular workload of the local administration and maintain uniformity in the chain of command.
“Had we been able to exercise full powers, Kathmandu would be a model for similar practice in the sub-metropolitan cities,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Upendra Kanta Aryal said while addressing the function organized by the Metro Police Commissioner’s Office. Aryal also sought upgrades in the systems related to human resource, physical infrastructure and technological innovations.
During the function, stakeholders also cited the need for an autonomous metropolitan police with its own hierarchy, facilities and career building schemes, and a separate commission to ensure career prospects for all personnel serving under the quasi-judicial body.
At the function, SSP Sarbendra Khanal, SSP Bikram Singh Thapa, SSP Sarad Chanda, DSP Santosh Singh Rathor, DSP Manohari Thapa, Head Constable Chet Bahadur Thapa and Constable Santosh Sapkota were commended for their work performance.