On 15th September, 2022, the Governor of the Punjab promulgated the Police Order (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023. As the newly promulgated Ordinance is a temporary legislation in terms of Article 89 of the Constitution of Pakistan that makes such legislation lapsable, it will be useful to examine some of its aspects to shed light upon the changes that the law envisages. As an introduction, it may be noted that the new law has inserted a new article to the Police Order, 2002 to establish Organized Crime Units (OCUs) in all districts of the Punjab. The following may be noted regarding the new amendments:
- Contextual Background
In addition to being an absolute legal necessity for police, the legislation has been triggered by litigation. The matter came up in the court of Justice Ali Zia Bajwa of the Lahore High Court when the police actions of a unit styled as ‘the Central Investigation Agency’ (the CIA) were questioned through a writ petition under article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The learned judge, who has a reputation of being a formidable judge on the criminal side, did not restrict himself to the apparent police actions, but opted to delve deep into the legality of the police powers and the formative law under which ‘the CIA’ was operating. His inquiries into the subject revealed that in 1997 a four member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan had held that ‘the CIA’ is actually the Central Intelligence Agency (the Statutory CIA) as provided under the Police Rule 21.35 of the Punjab Police Rules, 1934. In addition, the Supreme Court interpreted the term ‘officer in-charge of a police station’ in very narrow terms and noted that since the officers posted in ‘the Statutory CIA’ did not work under the officer in-charge of a police station as defined in section 4 (p) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (the Code), they were not authorized to conduct investigations. On this ratio, the Supreme Court declared that ‘the Statutory CIA’ could not investigate a criminal case. Due to binding nature of the judgement of the Supreme Court, different High Courts at different times, passed orders based on this ratio of the judgement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In practice, however, the police officers continued with their own version of ‘the CIA’ that was different from ‘the Statutory CIA’. This practice was often discouraged by the courts; however, this time, the court asserted and directed the police leadership to address legality issues of the CIA. In the circumstances, the police leadership presented its case before the provincial cabinet that authorized a draft law that was then sent by the Chief Minister (by way of advice) to the Governor of the Punjab who was pleased to promulgate the instant Ordinance. Thus, the law is a product of intervention of the court that insisted on the rule that all actions of the executive must be backed by law as required by article 4 of the Constitution of Pakistan.
- Concept And Definition of Organised Crime
The issue of definition of organized crime is not simple; there are over two hundred scholarly and institutional definitions of organized crime in literature related to law and criminology. The term owes its origin to the US law, which defined it earlier in the Crime Control and Safe Streets Act, 1968, and then in the Federal Organized Crime Control Act, 1970. The 1968 US law defined organized crime as:
“…unlawful activities of members of a highly organized, disciplined association engaged in supplying illegal goods and services, including but not limited to gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, narcotics, labour racketeering, and other unlawful activities of members of such associations…”
The definition, however, got further refined when it was realized at global level that organized crime required global response. In 1994, the World Ministerial Conference on Organized Transnational Crime started considering definitions of ‘organized crime’. After deliberations for about six years, in 2000, the UN adopted its UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) (also known as Palermo Convention). It did not define ‘organized crime’; instead it opted to define related terms like ‘organized criminal’ and ‘serious crime’.
The ‘organized criminal’ is defined as:
“…a structured group of three or more persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious cries or offences established pursuant to this Convention, in order to obtain, directly, or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit…”
The ‘serious crime’ has been defined as:
“…conduct constituting an offence punishable by a maximum deprivation of liberty for at least four years or more serious penalty…”
The UNTOC (and two Protocols attached to it) lists money laundering, human trafficking and migrant smuggling as types of organized crime under international law. In Pakistan, the three types of organized and serious crimes are being dealt separately under special laws like the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2010, the Prevention of Human Trafficking Act, 2018 and the Prevention of Migrant Smuggling Act, 2018. Due to these complexities, the new amendment in the Police Order, 2002 does not define ‘organized crime’, but treats the following as organized crime of provincial scale:
- Kidnapping for ransom;
- Robbery with murder;
- Dacoity with murder;
- Auto theft.
- Establishment Of Organized Crime Unit
The new law has established for the first time the Organized Crime Unit (OCU) in every district of the Punjab; in this respect, it is a first impression law. The law requires that OCU in the Capital District (i.e. Lahore) shall be headed by an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG-BS 20) and that of City Districts (i.e. Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala and Faisalabad) by an officer of the rank of Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP-BS 19) and that of a District by an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police (SP-BS 18). As the policing system in Pakistan is designed bottom-up in its orientation, the OCUs have been kept under the Head of District Police. In contradistinction, there is a segment of police officers who advocate provincial level organization to deal with inter-district and inter-provincial crime. They also think that national cooperation should be improved through provincial level organization that can also be mandated to attend to international cooperation requirements.
- Process and Powers
The OCUs will be fed by criminal cases that get transferred by the Head of Investigation in a District. The mechanism of collective decision making through boards of officers as envisaged in article 18 of the Police Order, 2002 has been put in place to regulate the supply of cases to the OCUs. In addition, in order to remedy the weakness pointed out in the Supreme Court judgement of 1997, the officers posted in OCUs have been conferred with powers of officers in charge of a police station as required in section 4 (p) of the Code.
Alongside the ordinary crime that is dealt with police on daily basis, there are categories of offences like those set for the cognizance of the OCUs in the new law that involve big money that funds anti-state and terrorist activities. These must be policed by the state more effectively and efficiently. These OCUs, if properly funded and regulated by rights based legal frameworks, will help in improving the state of internal security in Pakistan.
 Writ Petition No. 44948/2023 titled as Farah vs. the Inspector General of Police
 State vs. Bashir (PLD 1997 SC 408)
 Section 4 (p) of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code, 1898
 Article 2 of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, 2000