Uttar Pradesh’s New Special Security Force
Amid controversy over the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Special Security Force (UPSSF) that allow arrests “without warrant” or the “order of the magistrate”, the state government has claimed that the force, which was notified on August 31, is no different from special forces like the CISF at the Centre, or those in states like Odisha or Maharashtra.
What is the UPSSF?
- The force was announced on June 26, 2020, after Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath asked for the setting up of a CISF-like force to guard important institutions and persons. The proposed force was envisaged as having “high-level professional skills”, which would reduce the burden on the Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC), which could then focus on law and order.
- The new “state vital installation force” would protect courts, airports, banks, the Metro, industrial units, places of worship, as well as individuals, the government said. It claimed that Maharashtra and Odisha had similar forces.
- The UPSSF will be led by an Additional Director General-level officer, followed by an Inspector General, Deputy Inspector General, Commandant, and Deputy Commandant.
- According to the UPSSF Act, the force has been constituted to provide “better protection and security of a body or a person, or the residential premises” notified by the state government, and vital installations including courts, “administrative offices, shrines, Metro rail, airports, banks, other financial institutions, industrial undertaking,” etc.
- The Act lays down its purpose as “to maintain the smooth and strong security arrangements of the vital establishments and of notified persons, as at the Centre and in other states, there is no special security force established in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
- It has also cited a direction of the High Court while taking suo motu cognisance of the security situation at all court premises across Uttar Pradesh.
- Subsection (1) of Section 10 (“Power to arrest without warrant”) of the UPSSF Act says: “Any member of the force may, without any order from a Magistrate and without a warrant, arrest any person, who voluntarily causes hurt…”, or a person against whom there is a “reasonable suspicion”, or any person, who attempts to “commit a cognizable offence”.
- The force will also have the right to remove trespassers on the premises under its protection.
- Sections 15 and 16 of the UPSSF Act, 2020, offer “protection of action taken in good faith” and “cognisance of offence”. This is a sweeping protection – no court will be able to take cognisance of the offence against any member of the force without prior sanction from the state government.
- Also, Section 15 of the Act says: “No suit or prosecution shall lie against any officer or member of the force or against any person on acting under the order or the direction of any officer or member of the force for anything, which is done or intended to be done in good faith”.
- Section 16 says: “No court shall take cognisance of an offence against any member of the force” for action taken in the discharge of his duties.