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Armed with transfer and posting powers, AD Khawaja to continue as Sindh IG, rules SHC

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court ruled on Thursday in favour of the civil society petitioners that had approached the court against the removal of Sindh IG Allah Dino Khawaja as well as for reforms in the police department. IG Khawaja will continue to serve as the provincial police chief. The verdict came on civil society’s...

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 7, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Sep 7, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court ruled on Thursday in favour of the civil society petitioners that had approached the court against the removal of Sindh IG Allah Dino Khawaja as well as for reforms in the police department.

IG Khawaja will continue to serve as the provincial police chief. The verdict came on civil society’s petition challenging the removal of the Sindh IG from his post by the provincial government and seeking reforms in the police department. A two-judge bench, comprising justices Munib Akhtar and Omar Sial, announced the judgment.

The court in its judgment restored IG Khawaja's powers of transfers and postings within the police department. The Sindh government had in June withdrawn Khawaja's powers to decide the transfers and postings of senior police officials in the province.

The SHC ordered the provincial government to legislate in order to equip the IG with the powers of transfers and postings. In its short order, the bench dismissed the notification for removal of Khowaja from the IG post, ruling that the provincial government could not remove an IG without any justification.

The court also made it mandatory for the government to follow the judgment in the Anita Turab case under which an IG could not be removed from his post before three years of his appointment.

Currently, IG Khawaja was holding his office on a stay order granted by the SHC during the hearing of a set of petitions challenging the Sindh government's move to replace him.

On May 30, another bench, headed by Justice Akhtar, had reserved its verdict after hearing concluding arguments from the lawyers representing the petitioners, the federal and provincial governments and IG Khawaja.

A group of non-profit organisations, including the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and Urban Resource Centre, had filed the petition, seeking reforms in the policing system and against the Sindh government’s decision to send IG Khawaja on ‘forced’ leave in December last year.

Later, in April this year, they moved two applications seeking contempt of court proceedings against the provincial authorities for removing Khawaja from the IG’s post in violation of the court’s stay order and assigning the additional charge of the post to AIG Abdul Majid Dasti. Ever since, the court had stayed IG Khawaja’s removal from office.

In his concluding arguments, the petitioners’ lawyer, Faisal Siddiqui, had told the judges that in its letter addressed to the cabinet division dated March 31, the Sindh government had requested the federal government to take back the IG’s services and issue a notification to this effect.

However, before the federal government could issue the notification, the provincial government removed IG Khawaja the next day from the post of Sindh police chief and issued a notification regarding the surrender of his services to the Centre on its own.

He had argued that the provincial government had revived the Police Act, 1861, through the Police Act, 2011, and had repealed the Police Order, 2002.

The lawyer had contended that there were no grounds for the provincial government to object to the contents of the petition. He had also refuted the provincial advocate-general’s allegations that the petitioners had filed the petition in collusion with IG Khawaja and the federal government. The AG gave no proof of such allegations, he added.

In his arguments, AG Barrister Zamir Ghumro had contended that the provincial government had the authority to appoint the IG, adding that Khawaja was not removed from the post because he was working on an own-pay scale (OPS) basis. Therefore, he had told the judges that the laws requiring the heads of the provincial government departments to serve on the post for a term of five years does not apply to Khawaja. He had pleaded the court to dismiss the petition as it lacked merit for passing any order.

The judgment comprises 98 pages, which pointed out that the tenure of an IG’s term is clearly mentioned in the Police Rules 1986. The judges wrote that it is binding upon the Sindh government to follow these rules. The judgment further equipped the IG with powers to curb any interference, including those of ministers, in the police force’s matters.

Speaking to the media after the verdict, Faisal Siddiqi said that the Sindh government will now have to let the IG complete his five-year term. While the government can remove the IG if there is some justification, the IG now holds the power to appoint and transfer police officials, said Siddiqi. The reinstatement of Police Act 1861 has been upheld by the court.

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