A government oversight board Friday declared illegal an order by defense and police officials that established joint military-police patrols around the nation.

The patrols, which began Feb. 1, have provoked an outcry from reformers who say they are another step on the road to dictatorship and a state of emergency.The Constitutional Compliance Committee said the Dec. 29 order of the defense and interior ministers setting up the patrols has "significant omissions and other shortcomings in the legal regulation," according to the official news agency Tass.

The committee will rule later on the constitutionality of the order, which Defense Minister Dmitri Yazov and Interior Minister Boris Pugo issued to establish joint patrols in major Soviet cities, ostensibly to curb surging crime rates.

The committee said the order did not outline the grounds for using the army inside the country when a state of emergency has not been declared. Legislation and changes in soldiers' manuals are needed, the committee said.

Gorbachev did not sign the order but a month later issued his own decree creating an office to oversee all law enforcement agencies and putting civilian police in control of patrols.