KARACHI: A day after the Supreme Court demanded a list of all out-of-turn promotions in the police department awarded by the government, the legislators passed a bill to regularise them.
The Sindh Assembly witnessed a pandemonium during Thursday’s session when the treasury members succeeded in passing the Sindh Civil Servants (Amendment) bill. The opposition members walked out in protest, calling the law another “blot” in the face of democracy. Some members even tore copies of the bill agenda before the speaker’s rostrum.
“Another black law is being passed to accommodate the incompetent police officers,” National Peoples Party’s (NPP) Arif Mustafa Jatoi told the acting speaker, Shehla Raza. “We do not want to become a part of this dirty game.”
A larger bench of the apex court had given the provincial government a deadline to make a final decision on the promotion of these police officials. Earlier in 2012, it had declared these promotions “null and void”, but the governor had suddenly promulgated the Sindh Civil Servant (Amendment) Ordinance on September 2, last year, which gave the government legal protection against court orders. The ordinance lapsed, however, because the government was unable to pass it in the assembly within 90 days.
The bill was not only supported by the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) but its coalition partners, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Awami National Party (ANP), whose members were seen thumping their desks and laughing at the opposition members after the bill was passed.
Despite celebrations on the treasury benches, the opposition members were fuming. “This law is being passed to accommodate the law minister’s brothers and others police officers who have killed innocent people in extra judicial killings,” claimed Pakistan Muslim League - Functional’s Jam Madad Ali.
NPP’s Arif Jatoi pointed out that the Supreme Court was hearing the case at the same time.
Referring to various clauses of the constitution, Jatoi called the law a contempt of court act. He requested the legislation be delayed till Friday (today).
Meanwhile, law minister Ayaz Soomro justified the government’s policy and insisted that there is nothing wrong with giving out-of-turn promotions to those policemen who have given outstanding performance. “They have arrested and killed many terrorists and foiled terrorist activities in Sindh, therefore they deserve the promotions,” he said. Responding to the opposition’s criticism, he asked them to review their own performance. “You have been supporting dictators and have endorsed General (retd) Musharraf’s Legal Frame Work Order,” he said. “Are you now guiding us what to do? We know you are opposing us to gain cheap publicity.”
MQM’s parliamentary leader Sardar Ahmed pointed out that it is a sub-judice matter. “But the court has not yet issued a stay order,” he said. “A lawmakers’ job is to make legislation, which we are doing.”
During the debate, it also emerged that the protesting opposition members were unaware of the contents of the bill. They thought that all government servants had been absorbed in various departments. The acting speaker clarified, however, that the bill only pertains to the regularisation of police officers’ promotions. Despite the clarification, PML-F’s Jam Madad Ali said that, “We know the bill is being passed to appease two brothers of the law minister who have received illegal promotions.”
Later, a majority of the members passed the bill into law.
The Sindh Assembly also made an amendment to the Sindh High Density Development Board and adopted two resolutions paying tribute to noted writer Sirajul Haque Memon. The resolution was moved by the culture minister, Sassui Palijo. Another resolution tabled by PPP MPA Ghulam Mujadid Isran was also passed unanimously requesting the government provide accommodation to the victims of the Karsaz bomb blast on October 18, 2007. The session was later adjourned for today (Friday).
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.
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