Maharashtra’s Draft Internal Security Act Raises Questions on Powers of Police, Privacy

Representative image. Credit: PTI

In a first state-level move of its kind, the Maharashtra government has created a draft internal security Act meant to deal with challenges posed by “terrorism, insurgency, communalism and caste violence,” reports said.

The draft Maharashtra Protection of Internal Security Act (MPISA) would give great power and authority to the police, if implemented. The draft was made public on Saturday and a senior state home department told The Hindu that they will be asking for suggestions and responses.

The draft provisions of the Act, however, have raised some eyebrows on the real intentions behind it and what it would mean for privacy.

The draft makes it compulsory for all public spaces – whether publicly or privately owned – to have CCTV surveillance and security arrangements as mandated by the police. Video footage has to be saved for at least a 30 day period. In addition, security checks will be mandatory in government offices, private institutions, malls, train stations and other public spaces.

Public spaces will also be routinely audited for their security arrangements, DNA reported. “The detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the security audit will be framed by the MSSC (Maharashtra State Security Council) in consultation with the parties concerned. These SOPs will be revised periodically,” the draft read.

Under the MPISA, any gathering that expects to receive more than 100 people has to get special permissions from the police, India Today reported. This could be read as a move meant to regulate and curtail protests and agitations.

‘Special security zones’ will be set up under the Act, where the movement of arms and explosives and the inflow of unaccounted funds will be prohibited.

There draft also calls for a ‘state internal security committee’, with home minister as ex-officio chairman and the minister of state (home) and the chief secretary as members. This committee will oversee the implementation of the Act and review its implementation.

(with PTI inputs)