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March 14, 2019

Enact rules for police transfers, postings or face contempt proceedings, SHC tells govt


March 14, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday directed the Sindh government to enact police rules for the transfers and postings of officers of the Sindh police within a month. The high court also warned the provincial government of contempt proceedings if the order was not complied.

The direction came on a petition of Karamat Ali, other right activists and non-government organisations. They had filed contempt of court application against the chief secretary and provincial government for disobeying an earlier court order.

A counsel for the petitioners submitted that the SHC had issued detailed directions to the Sindh government and the federal government in the subject judgment including but not limited to the restraining order against the removal of then inspector general of police (IGP) Sindh AD Khowaja, and the enactment of statutory rules for transfers and postings in the police force at all levels.

The lawyer submitted that the Sindh government did not implement the court direction with regard to the enactment of statutory rules for the transfers and postings in the police force at all the levels despite the fact that then IGP had revised and amended the draft rules and sent them to the chief secretary on December 13, 2017.

The counsel submitted 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 by the IGP. The court was requested to punish the alleged contemnors for violating the courts orders.

A provincial law officer submitted that the provincial government had constituted a standing committee for the enactment of police rules and sought further six-week time to submit the report.

Petitioners’ counsel Faisal Siddiqui informed the SHC that the Sindh government had not implementing the court directives for more than a year and the proposed rules had been sent to the government three times.

The SHC directed the advocate general Sindh to file the compliance report with regard to the enactment of the police rules, warning that contempt proceedings shall be initiated if the compliance was not made in letter and spirit. The hearing was adjourned till April 17.

Case history

The petitioners had 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 illegal action of the Sindh government with regard to the transfer of then IGP AD Khowaja.

It is pertinent to mention here that the SHC had quashed the transfers and postings notification of senior police officers issued on July 7, 2017 and all similar notifications for being unlawful as the powers of transfers and postings of police officers, at all the levels, inclusive of the PSP officers serving in the province were vested in the IGP, who was to exercise them under the framed rules and orders.

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

The SHC had observed that rules must also, inter alia, set out the period or term that is ordinarily to be served at any level/post, so as to ensure that the rule laid down by the Supreme Court in the Anita Turab case shall apply in relation thereto. The draft rules shall 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.

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 is earlier). The agenda for the meeting must be circulated in advance and the IGP must be invited to attend the meeting. If the rules are approved as proposed, then the same shall take effect from the date of the cabinet meeting.

The court observed that if any changes, modifications or amendments are made, which are concurred to in writing by the IGP, the same result will follow. If the rules are not considered or approved by the provincial cabinet or changes, modifications or amendments are made therein which are not accepted by the IGP, then the entire exercise will have to be repeated. The exercise shall be subject to judicial review, which may be sought by means of an appropriate application filed in these petitions.

The court observed that till such time as the rules are framed and approved in terms as stated above, and with immediate effect, the power of transfers and postings in the police force, at all the levels and including that of the PSP officers, shall be exercised only by the IGP, and any orders issued by him in this regard shall be self-executing.

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