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February 14, 2018

Sindh govt told to respond to plea in IGP transfer case


February 14, 2018

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued notices to the chief secretary and others on a contempt-of-court application against the chief minister and the CS for allegedly subverting the court’s judgment in the IGP transfer case.

Petitioner Karamat Ali and other rights activists and NGOs had earlier challenged the repeal of the Police Order 2002, purportedly through the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Order 2002 & Revival of the Police Act 1861) Act 2011, lack of implementation of the Police Order 2002 and the alleged illegal action of the Sindh government with regard to the transfer of provincial police chief IGP AD Khowaja.

Filing the contempt application for allegedly disobeying the court’s order, the petitioner’s counsel had said the SHC issued detailed directions to the Sindh and federal governments in its judgment, which included but was not limited to a restraining order against Khowaja’s removal and the enactment of statutory rules for transfer and posting in the police force at all levels.

The counsel submitted that through its October 28 decision, the provincial cabinet had returned the draft of the Sindh Police (Posting, Transfer & Tenure) Rules 2017 to the IGP in order to amend the same in light of the recommendations of the committee formed by the provincial government. He said the IGP had revised and amended the draft rules and sent them to the CS on December 13, adding that in light of the SHC’s judgment, the provincial cabinet was under a legal obligation to consider the draft rules within 15 days of their submission.

The counsel said the Sindh cabinet’s January 24 meeting did not consider the draft of the police rules, despite the issuance of a reminder to the CS that if the SHC’s directions were not complied with, the government would be violating the court’s September 7 orders. The court was requested to punish the alleged contemnors for violating the court’s orders. After the preliminary hearing of the application on Tuesday, the SHC issued a notice to the CS, calling for his comments on February 20.

In its September 7 judgment, the SHC had quashed the transfer and posting notification of senior police officers issued on July 7 and all similar notifications as unlawful, saying the power of transfer and posting of police officers at all levels and inclusive of PSP officers serving in the province vested in the IGP and was to be exercised by him in terms of rules or orders to be framed under.

The court had directed the IGP to frame draft rules within 30 days, setting out the manner in which he or the police hierarchy acting through him was to exercise the power of transfer and posting in the police force at all levels, including PSP officers serving in the province.

The SHC observed that the rules must also, among other things, set out the period or term that was to be ordinarily served at any level or post so as to ensure that the rule laid down by the Supreme Court in the Anita Turab case should apply in relation thereto.

The court said the draft rules should be transmitted to the provincial government, here meaning the provincial cabinet, and also, to ensure transparency, posted simultaneously and prominently on the website of the Sindh Police, that is on their home page.

The SHC observed that the provincial cabinet must consider the draft rules at its next meeting or a meeting specifically called for such purpose within 15 days, whichever was earlier.

The court said the agenda for the meeting must be circulated in advance and the IGP must be invited to attend the meeting, adding that if the rules were approved as proposed, then they should take effect from the date of the cabinet meeting. The SHC observed that if any changes, modifications or amendments were made, which were concurred to in writing by the IGP, the same result would follow.

If the rules are not considered or approved by the provincial cabinet or changes, modifications or amendments are made therein that are not accepted by the IGP, then the entire exercise will have to be repeated, said the court, adding that the exercise should be subject to judicial review, which might be sought by means of an appropriate application filed in these petitions.

The high court observed that until such a time as the rules were framed and approved in terms as stated above and with immediate effect, the power of transfer and posting in the police force at all levels and including that of PSP officers should be exercised only by the IGP, and any orders issued by him in this regard should be self-executing.

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