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September 8, 2017

‘Need to ensure historic SHC order is enforced’

Karachi

 
September 8, 2017

Welcoming the high court’s decision allowing Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) AD Khowaja to continue serving as the provincial police chief, civil society representatives called for ensuring that the court's orders were implemented.

Addressing a press conference held on Thursday after the SHC announced its decision, the rights activists said it was imperative to make sure that the Sindh government would now respect the IGP’s autonomy and work sincerely towards depoliticising the province's police force.

The presser was addressed by Karamat Ali, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), who was accompanied by Mahnaz Rahman, resident director of the Aurat Foundation, Shireen Khokhar of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Khateeb Ahmed from Shehri, Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and Mir Zulfiqar Ali of the Workers Education and Research Organisation.

The activists observed that although the SHC did not accept their plea to declare the Police Order, 1861, null and void, they are still content that the court gave a historic verdict on the matter of police reforms and restored the IGP’s powers.

Ali, Nazim F Haji of the Citizens Trust Against Crimes, prominent singer Shehzad Roy, urban rights activist Aquila Ismail, as individuals, and the Piler, the Orangi Pilot Project and the Urban Resource Centre, as organisations, had filed the petition in the SHC after the Sindh government had removed IGP AD Khowaja from the post.

The petitioners sought SHC’s help that the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Order, 2002 and Revival of the Police Act, 1861) Act, 2011, be declared unconstitutional as the Police Order, 2002 was passed by the National Assembly and was enforced upon the entire country.

“Onus to introduce police reforms in the province now lies on the Sindh government,” Ali observed. He pointed out that the petition acknowledged the provincial assembly’s powers to legislate upon matters and that according to Sindh Government Rules of Business,1986, the petition also maintained that an IG has a five-year tenure.

However, while the court endorsed that the provincial government could make changes and reduce the tenure, it also asked for it to ensure that the tenure is not less than three years, he added.

The Piler’s executive director further maintained that the Police Act, 1861 protects an IG’s autonomy of command and independence of operation and entrusts him with administering the entire police force.

“His position is the apex of the force; therefore, any attempt to sideline or curtail his power, directly or indirectly, would be contrary to law and of no legal effect.” Similarly, the power to transfer and post police officers at all levels lies with the IG. Hence, the order/notification issued on July 7, 2017, stands quashed and that any and all other such notifications are also invalid, he said.

Unnecessary interference of the Sindh government has literally divided the police department which has resulted in the city’s security being comprised, Karamat Ali maintained.     He further explained that the court also ordered the Sindh government to make rules in which the IG’s autonomy and independence is ensured, and that no transfers and postings of police officers will take place without the IG’s order.

The civil society activists also called upon the IG and all officers under him to exercise their autonomy in depoliticising the police, and make all out efforts to address citizens’ complaints against the police, as well as ensure fulfilment of the police force’s sole purpose that of safeguarding the life and liberty of the people of Sindh.

They also called upon the civil society in particular and citizens in general to endeavour to mobilise public to ensure implementation of this judgment that would lead to a police force free of influence.