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Explained: Armed Police Bill That Led to Ruckus in Bihar Assembly 

The controversial Bill caused unprecedented chaos and violence in the Bihar Assembly on 23 March.

Updated
Explainers
3 min read
Chaos ensued in the Bihar Assembly amid Opposition-led protest against the Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021.
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The Bihar Special Armed Police Bill, 2021, was passed in the state Assembly on Tuesday, 23 March, and will now be tabled before the Legislative Council, despite massive uproar in the House and protests outside over what the Opposition termed as a “draconian law”.

In the wake of the unprecedented chaos in the Bihar Assembly on Tuesday, a joint statement by opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Indian National Congress, condemned the attack on MLAs, and expressed dissent against the Bill. Visuals of opposition MLAs being thrashed by the police have also emerged.

So, what is this Bill that led to so much chaos and violence in the Bihar Assembly on 23 March?

Explained: Armed Police Bill That Led to Ruckus in Bihar Assembly 

  1. 1. What is the Bill?

    The contentious bill proposes to set up a special armed force to maintain public order and combat any threat to security or extremism. It apparently seeks to arm the Bihar Military Police, rename them, and empower it on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

    Section 7 of the Bill gives the force the power to arrest people on the basis of mere suspicion of disrupting state government functions, or attempting to conceal their presence with the aim to commit a crime or cognizable offence.

    The forces wouldn’t need a warrant from a magistrate to carry out an arrest or to search their premises, and the provisions to search under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 will be applied.

    The only check in place for this is that it would allow any Special Armed Police Officer, not below the notified rank to carry out an arrest. The officer must take the suspect to a nearby police station to get a report lodged detailing the arrest.

    The Special Armed Forces personnel cannot be taken to court for any proceeding against them unless authorised by the government.

    Expand
  2. 2. What is the Government Saying?

    The Bihar government cited that the Bihar Military Police, with its distinct organisational structure, has been handling industrial security, such as that in airports and Metros, and needs a separate identity as Special Armed Forces to fulfil the changing needs of the state’s security.

    Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stated that the specially trained force will strengthen internal security.

    Expand
  3. 3. What Happened in the Bihar Assembly?

    ‘Unprecedented turmoil’ was reported to have ensued in the House, causing the Assembly to be adjourned as many as five times during the day. The Opposition protested the Bill, dubbing it as a ‘black law’ and saying it should not be considered for passing.

    Slogans were raised against speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha and the NDA government. Upon returning after the adjournment of the session, Sinha was stopped from entering the Assembly by legislators.

    Outside the Assembly premises, meanwhile, amid protest by over 50 opposition leaders, Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap were detained, but were subsequently released. They were back in the Assembly when it reassembled at 3 pm.

    Visuals of police and other administrative officials thrashing, manhandling and physically dragging RJD MLAs have also emerged.

    CM Nitish Kumar reacted strongly to the Bihar Assembly proceedings, noting that the MLAs should have participated in the debate and that all questions around the bill would have been answered. He also stated that action will be taken against those who indulged in vandalism on the floor of the House.

    Expand
  4. 4. What is the Opposition Saying?

    A joint statement by opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Indian National Congress, condemned the attack on the MLAs, calling the Bill an “insidious conspiracy” that sought to enforce “Police Raj” in Bihar.

    The joint statement called the bill “draconian” and “unconstitutional”. It read that it “effectively transforms the police force into an armed militia to harass, suppress and crack down on academics, activists, journalists, political opposition and all those who dare to speak truth to power”.

    On the treatment of the MLAs raising these concerns, the statement said, “Rather than addressing the people’s concerns, the MLAs were ruthlessly beaten and forcefully ejected from the assembly. In doing so, the BJP and JDU have not only sought to throttle the voices of people’s representatives, but also assaulted constitutional principles.”

    “We wanted to speak, but we were thrashed. This law means that search will be conducted without warrant and any policeman can arrest anyone if he believes something is wrong. No use of courts and magistrate.”
    Tejashwi Yadav, as per ANI, later on Tuesday evening said:

    Following the commotion, former CM of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav on Wednesday tweeted in Hindi, “Playing in the lap of the Sangh, Nitish is a pawn and small recharge of the Sangh.”

    Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tweeted that “those who defy democracy have no right to be called government”. He added that the events in Vidhan Sabha made it evident that the chief minister is under the influence of BJP-RSS.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What is the Bill?

The contentious bill proposes to set up a special armed force to maintain public order and combat any threat to security or extremism. It apparently seeks to arm the Bihar Military Police, rename them, and empower it on the lines of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

Section 7 of the Bill gives the force the power to arrest people on the basis of mere suspicion of disrupting state government functions, or attempting to conceal their presence with the aim to commit a crime or cognizable offence.

The forces wouldn’t need a warrant from a magistrate to carry out an arrest or to search their premises, and the provisions to search under Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 will be applied.

The only check in place for this is that it would allow any Special Armed Police Officer, not below the notified rank to carry out an arrest. The officer must take the suspect to a nearby police station to get a report lodged detailing the arrest.

The Special Armed Forces personnel cannot be taken to court for any proceeding against them unless authorised by the government.

What is the Government Saying?

The Bihar government cited that the Bihar Military Police, with its distinct organisational structure, has been handling industrial security, such as that in airports and Metros, and needs a separate identity as Special Armed Forces to fulfil the changing needs of the state’s security.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar stated that the specially trained force will strengthen internal security.

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What Happened in the Bihar Assembly?

‘Unprecedented turmoil’ was reported to have ensued in the House, causing the Assembly to be adjourned as many as five times during the day. The Opposition protested the Bill, dubbing it as a ‘black law’ and saying it should not be considered for passing.

Slogans were raised against speaker Vijay Kumar Sinha and the NDA government. Upon returning after the adjournment of the session, Sinha was stopped from entering the Assembly by legislators.

Outside the Assembly premises, meanwhile, amid protest by over 50 opposition leaders, Tejashwi Yadav and Tej Pratap were detained, but were subsequently released. They were back in the Assembly when it reassembled at 3 pm.

Visuals of police and other administrative officials thrashing, manhandling and physically dragging RJD MLAs have also emerged.

CM Nitish Kumar reacted strongly to the Bihar Assembly proceedings, noting that the MLAs should have participated in the debate and that all questions around the bill would have been answered. He also stated that action will be taken against those who indulged in vandalism on the floor of the House.

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What is the Opposition Saying?

A joint statement by opposition parties, including the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Indian National Congress, condemned the attack on the MLAs, calling the Bill an “insidious conspiracy” that sought to enforce “Police Raj” in Bihar.

The joint statement called the bill “draconian” and “unconstitutional”. It read that it “effectively transforms the police force into an armed militia to harass, suppress and crack down on academics, activists, journalists, political opposition and all those who dare to speak truth to power”.

On the treatment of the MLAs raising these concerns, the statement said, “Rather than addressing the people’s concerns, the MLAs were ruthlessly beaten and forcefully ejected from the assembly. In doing so, the BJP and JDU have not only sought to throttle the voices of people’s representatives, but also assaulted constitutional principles.”

“We wanted to speak, but we were thrashed. This law means that search will be conducted without warrant and any policeman can arrest anyone if he believes something is wrong. No use of courts and magistrate.”
Tejashwi Yadav, as per ANI, later on Tuesday evening said:

Following the commotion, former CM of Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav on Wednesday tweeted in Hindi, “Playing in the lap of the Sangh, Nitish is a pawn and small recharge of the Sangh.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday tweeted that “those who defy democracy have no right to be called government”. He added that the events in Vidhan Sabha made it evident that the chief minister is under the influence of BJP-RSS.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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