KARACHI: The Sindh government has two weeks to deal with the matter of sending the inspector general of police, Allah Dino Khawaja, on forced leave in accordance with the Supreme Court's order passed for the depoliticisation of the police force in the famous Karachi law and order suo motu case.
This direction was passed by a Sindh High Court (SHC) bench, comprising provincial Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and justice Zulfiqar Ahmad Khan, passed the order.
on a petition filed by civil society organisations challenging the Sindh government's decision of sending the top cop on 'forced leave'.
The court also issued notices to the attorney-general and provincial advocate-general to file comments by January 12, 2017 on behalf of the federal interior ministry, provincial law and home departments and Karachi's additional IG Mushtaq Ahmed Mahar who was given additional charge of the provincial police chief.
Days before former president Asif Ali Zardari returned to Pakistan, ending his year-long self-exile in Dubai, IG Khawaja was allegedly forcibly sent on leave by the provincial government.
The decision was jointly challenged in the high court by representatives of the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, the Urban Resource Centre, the Orangi Pilot Project, singer Shehzad Roy and others. They cited the interior secretary, provincial home and law secretaries, provincial director-general of the Rangers, AIG Mahar and IG Khawaja as respondents.
The petitioners informed the judges that the Supreme Court had, in its judgment passed in the Watan Party case, known as the Karachi law and order suo motu case, ordered the federal and provincial authorities concerned to take steps for depoliticising the police force in Sindh.
In this regard, detailed observations made by the apex court are available, they argued.
The petitioners said that the provincial government had appointed Khawaja as IG on March 12 this year - as his predecessor Ghulam Haider Jamali was removed from the post following observations by the SC regarding his eligibility to remain in office in view of findings of the court-appointed inquiry committees regarding his involvement in corrupt practices.
The petitioners argued that IG Khawaja had ensured the appointment of 20,000 personnel in the force purely on merit through the National Testing Service system, as the representatives of the Pakistan Army and the Citizens-Police Liaison Committee were also on board.
They added that IG Khawaja had also brought about improvement in other matters in the police force, including increasing compensation for the families of martyred cops from Rs2 million to Rs5 million. Since he assumed the office, the police have arrested the accused and absconders in some high-profile cases, the petitioners said.
However, they alleged that the IG was sent on forced leave because the provincial authorities were against the merit-based appointments made by him in the police department, as well as transfers of those police officers who were working under direct influence of the politicians.
The petitioners contended that the provincial government's act of sending IG Khawaja on forced leave was against both the provisions of constitution as well as the police rules.
Therefore, they pleaded to the court to restrain the interior secretary and provincial law and home secretaries from taking any action against Khawaja, such as transferring him. The civil society groups also urged the court to constitute an independent commission, headed by either a judge of the Supreme Court or the high court, to ensure de-politicisation of the police force in the province.
After hearing initial arguments, the bench issued notices to the interior secretary, home and law secretaries, the Rangers DG, AIG Mahar and IG Khawaja for Janaury 12. The attorney-general and Sindh advocate-general were also issued notices to file comments of the authorities by the next date of the hearing.
Till then, the judges ordered that the 'matter shall be dealt with in accordance with the order passed by the Supreme Court'.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2016.
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