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SHC asks govt for details of recently revived Police Order

Karachi

May 22, 2019

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday directed the advocate general to submit the details of the recently revived Police Order 2002 as well as of any debates held before the provincial assembly passed the bill.

The order came on a petition of Karamat Ali, other rights activists and NGOs on a contempt-of-court application against the chief secretary and the provincial government for disobeying an earlier court order.

The petitioners said the SHC had issued detailed orders to the Sindh and federal governments in the subject judgment, including the enactment of statutory rules for transfers and postings in the police force at all levels.

They said the provincial government did not implement the court’s orders about the enactment of statutory rules for transfers and postings in the police force at all levels, despite the fact that the then police chief had revised and amended the draft rules and sent them to the CS on December 13, 2017.

They said that in the 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 court was requested to punish the contemnors for violating the court’s orders.

The Sindh AG said the PA had revived the Police Order by repealing the Police Act, and requested the court to dismiss the application as not maintainable. The petitioners’ counsel Faisal Siddiqui said the bill was passed without complying with the court’s directives, and requested that the court ask for the details of the revived bill as well as of any debates held in the House before passing the piece of legislation.

The court asked the law officer if the opposition parties were taken into confidence before the bill was passed, since the opposition parties reportedly did not give their consent to the approval of the draft bill.

The court observed that the police law was an important social issue that had far-reaching effects, so there should be consensus among all the stakeholders. The court asked if any debates were held before passing the bill and how the court order was implemented.

The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi directed the AG to submit the details of the revived bill and of any debates held, and adjourned the hearing until June 16.

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, the lack of implementation of the Police Order 2002, and the illegal action of the provincial government as regards the transfer of the then police chief AD Khowaja.

In its earlier judgment, the SHC had quashed the transfer and posting notification of senior police officers issued on July 7, 2017 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.

Revival

Amid a protest and a walkout by the opposition, the PA passed the bill to revive the Police Order 2002 in Sindh this past Saturday as part of the provincial government’s bid to regain administrative control of the police force that was earlier wrested from it in the light of court orders.T

he House passed the government bill No. 13 of 2019 — the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002), Bill 2019 — in the light of a report of a 15-member select committee, headed by Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu and comprising members of both the government and the opposition, that had mulled over the draft of the proposed law for revision.

The opposition legislators of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Grand Democratic Alliance protested in the House and later walked out when the bill came under consideration.

They raised slogans against the government and tore up the bill’s copies before walking out. After the walkout, treasury lawmakers Saeed Ghani, Sharjeel Memon and others were seen helping the assembly staff in picking up the pieces of the bill spread out near the speaker’s rostrum.

The legislators of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan did not participate in the protest and walkout by their colleague lawmakers on the opposition benches.

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