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January 22, 2021

If bravery can be criterion for cops’ promotion, asks SC

National

 
January 22, 2021

Our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) Thursday asked if an act of gallantry (bravery) could be considered as one of the criteria for granting promotion to the police officers. A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqir, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, heard the criminal review petitions in the outof- turn promotions to the officers in the Police Department, titled Akhtar Umar Hayat Lalayak verses Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhaira. Additional Attorney General Sohail Mahmood, Additional Advocate General Punjab Chaudhry Faisal Hussain Farid, Malik Qayyum, Barrister Ali Zafar, Chaudhry Sultan Mahmood and other counsel representing various police officials appeared before the court. The additional attorney general submitted before the court that the federation had indirectly recognised the act of gallantry by considering it at the time of performance, evaluation report but do not recognize as a separate criteria for promotion. Additional Advocate General Punjab Chaudhry Faisal Hussain Farid submitted that the Punjab government had also filed its report. The Punjab government, in its report, filed through Inspector General of Police (IGP), submitted that the acts of gallantry could not constitute one of the criteria for evaluation of a police officer for promotion. The report reiterated that any promotion, especially out-of-turn promotion, on the basis of gallantry, was opposed by the Punjab Police Department. Similarly, the Ministry of Defence had submitted that the conferment of honours and awards contributes towards overall improvement of career progression prospects at individual level, by improving the merit when considered for promotion, other assignments. However, there is no out-of-turn promotion system in the Army, neither is it granted subsequent to receipt of honours and awards, says the report, adding that awards also contribute to improving overall merit at individual level. During the course of hearing, Justice Bandial observed that the matter in hand was very much important and questioned as to whether the act of gallantry could be considered as one of the criteria for awarding promotion to the police officers. Justice Bandial asked the counsel to suggest names for addressing the issues as well as to assist the court as to what mechanism was being adopted across the globe on the issue in hand. Justice Bandial, however, observed that Tariq Saeed Khosa had an expertise in the field and his assistance could be sought in the matter. “But we will welcome your suggestions as well,” Justice Bandial asked the counsel for parties. Shoaib Shaheen, one of the counsel for the petitioners, suggested that the name of Nasir Saeed Khosa, younger brother of Tariq Saeed Khosa, as well as Shoaib Suddle should also be taken into consideration as they had also expertise on the issue. He also proposed that a committee could be constituted on the matter. Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, another member of the bench, mentioned the name of Nasir Durrani while Justice Maqbool Baqir, another member of the bench, observed that Tariq Saeed Khosa had worked extensively on the basic structure of the Police Department, adding that Afzal Shigri was also another name having expertise on the matter. Chaudhry Sultan Mahmood, counsel for one of the petitioners, submitted that he had filed a CMA on the subject relating to British jurisdiction and had outlined the mechanism adopted there. Justice Bandial asked the counsel to prepare a summary of his CMA and the court would look into it. Malik Qayyum, counsel for another petitioner, suggested the court to examine the mechanism being adopted on the subject in India, the USA, Philippines and Nigeria. Another counsel Asma Hamid informed the court that they had filed a CMA on behalf of the respondents and cited pages to the court about the reports. Meanwhile, the court, in its order, noted down that the counsel for the parties had assisted the court in pursuing different reports, filed by the provincial police authorities, the Ministry of Defence and the provincial government. The court noted that it appears that there is one school of thought that treats acts of gallantry as one of the criteria for assessment of an officer for promotion. It is also clear that such a criterion in the promotion would be relevant for the police officers up to the rank of DSP, the court noted down in its order, adding that the distinction is evident in the enforcement of rules on the subject in the Indian jurisdiction. The court considered that the point in issue deserved careful attention because gallant police officers do render services that are immensely important for law and order and peace in society. “In this regard, it would be useful to appoint a committee of experts to assist the court with their views on the subject,” the court said in its order. Meanwhile, the court constituted a fourmember committee comprising Tariq M Khosa, Haji Habibur Rehman, Afzal Ali Shigri and Nasir Khan Durrani as experts and as members of the committee to submit their views on the subject, of inclusion of gallantry as one of the indicators or criteria for evaluation, assessment of merit, efficiency in the list of composite criteria for promotion. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, however, observed that they were not going to sign the order at this stage and asked the counsel for the parties that if they recommend other experts, their names would be added to the committee and adjourned the matter for a month. In 2016, a two-member SC bench comprising Justice Amir Hani Muslim and Justice Umar Ata Bandial, had ordered that all outof- turn promotions, granted either to the police personnel on gallantry award or otherwise should be undone within four weeks.