The Bengal Military Police Act, 1892

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The present legislation namely, ‘the Bengal Military Police Act, 1892’ (Act no. 5 of 1892), being one from the British period was enacted by the Governor General of Council with the aim and object to make provisions for better regulation of the reserved Bengal Military Police. The said enactment was assented by the Governor General of Council, on 25th day of March, 1892. And in so far as its extension is concerned, it is given that the same to be extended to the entire territories which were subjected to the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and the local Government was made authorized to provide for its commencement date by notifying in the Calcutta Gazette.

In so far as the provisions of this Act are concerned, the Act makes certain preliminary provisions under first two provisions, in which first is dealing with short titling, extension and commencement of the Act, as aforesaid. And also another provision sought to define various relevant terminologies which are being used under the various provisions of the Act.

The provisions which are very close connected to the purpose of the Act are contained from the third provision thereof, wherein it is made clear that any Officer who is going to be appointed to the Bengal Police Force under the provisions of section 7 of the Police Act, 1861 (Act no. 5 of 1861), before he is so appointed should be first appointed to be a Military Police Officer and the Statement which is provided under the Schedule to this Act, should be read and explain to such Officer in the presence of a Magistrate, Commandant or Second- in- Command. Such State is also required to be signed by him by acknowledging that the same had been read and understood by him. Also the Act made it clear that such Military Police Officer should not be having right to discharged from the Bengal Police Force, irrespective of whatever contained in the Notice within the provision of section 9 of the aforesaid Act of 1861. However, such discharge entitlement can only be afforded to such officer in accordance with the terms and conditions under which the Statement was signed by him under this Act.

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The section 4 of the Act provides for ranking of the Military Police Officers, and the order mentioned under the Act were to be treated as rank of those officers, including Subadars- Major, Subadar, Jamadars, Havildars-Major, Havildars, Naiks, Buglers and Sepoys and all directed grades by the Local Government.

Further, section 5 of the Act describes certain offences by the Military Police Officers. It is given that if any such Officer himself begins or excites or even causes or joins in any Mutiny or Sedition or even while being present thereon fails to use his utmost endeavours to suppress the same, etc. or even if such officer is using the criminal force or attempting thereof for committing assault on his superiors or does all other contemplated acts, then such Officer will be held guilty under this Act and will be punished with transportation for life or for not less than 7 years, punishment may also be given in the form of imprisonment for maximum up to 14 years or with fine maximum up to his three month pay. Similarly, sections 6 also provides for certain offences by the Police- Officer being less serious or heinous offences, such as being under the state of intoxication while on duty, commencing or attempting thereof the strikes for forcing any sentry and all other contemplated acts which are treated as less heinous offences under this provision, the punishment is provided in the form of imprisonment maximum of which is given as 1 years period or there can be imposed fine up to offender’s (Military Police Officer) pay of three months or even both imprisonment and fine can simultaneously be inflicted. The third kind of offences which are provided under the Act, are as minor offences, which can be awarded by the District Magistrate, Commandant or Second-in-Command or by any given officer to any Military Police Officer. Further, the provision of section 8 specifies the place where such offenders under this Act should be detained or imprisoned. However, section 9 allows the prosecution of any such persons under the provisions of the aforesaid Act of 1861, which should not be affected by these provisions of this present Act. Further, section 10 empowers the local government to provide for vesting of powers with any Police Officer who should not be inferior to Commandant. The Powers which can be vested with such Police Officers should include the powers of Magistrate of any class, for enquiring into or trying any offence punishable under the Act of 1861. Section 11 provides for disciplinary and other powers of the Commandants and Second-in-Command other than of Military Police Officers and the privileges of such officers of the Military Police are provided under next provision. Finally, section 13 of the Act provides for power of the Local Government where it could make rules for the Military Police. And such rules are required to be consistent with the provisions of this present Act.

The Present Act is sought for its repealing by the recommendations of the Law Commission in its second interim report- ‘Obsolete Laws: Warranting Immediate Repeal’ being Report no. 249 dated 13th October, 2014 on the topic of the ‘Legal Enactments: Simplifications and Streamlining’-LESS. The reasons put forward by the Law Commission includes, that the Bengal Military Police was renamed in the year 1920 as ‘Eastern Frontier Rifles’ and in the year 1947 the same was divided between India and Pakistan. As such the concerned Military Police now exists as the ‘Eastern Frontier Rifles’ and also is the part of the West Bengal’s Police force. And when the provisions of the West Bengal Police Act, 1952 deal with employment to the police force in that State, the present Act of 1892 becomes unable to apply on the matters. Therefore, the present Act was sought to be repealed however, a pervious consultation with concerned State should be made.

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Adv. Faim Khalilkhan Pathan