IG gets back his tenure powers

Mohammed Arifeen

A massive blow has been struck against the politicization of the police in Sindh. The Sindh High Court ordered that the incumbent would continue as inspector general, Sindh. Neither can he be removed until at least three years after his appointment in March this year. Equally significant, it directed the Sindh government to enact rules ensuring the IG's autonomy of command and independence of operation. Meanwhile, no transfers and postings of police personnel are to take place without the IG's order. The court upheld that police was exclusively a provincial subject and the Police Act 2011 was a valid law. 
 In April, the Sindh government had sent Khowaja packing after it appointed another Grade-21 police officer, Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti, already working in the province, in his place. In its judgment the bench wrote: "Since the post of Inspector General has a fixed term associated with it, the rule laid down by the Supreme Court in the Anita Turab case is applicable. Furthermore, the verdict said, no authority or body can be given any power to curtail, reduce, suspend or otherwise dispense with the stipulated term. The court in its judgment also gave back IGP Khowaja the powers of posting and transfers which had been withdrawn by the provincial government. The court ruled that there's a need for police reforms and the police force for law and order to be properly established, which was a sine qua non for the rule of law and which, in turn, enabled fundamental rights to be fully and properly enjoyed. In order for fundamental rights to be effectively enforced in this Province, suitable directions can, and should, be given and appropriate orders made under Article 199 of the Constitution. 
"This is victory of good governance and police as an institution," said IGP A.D. Khowaja in his reaction over the court order. "May Allah help us serve the cause of poor masses. "I bow before the Almighty who gave strength to face this arduous challenge," said the IGP. He also expressed his gratitude to all his friends who stood with him in "trying times," according to a statement issued to the media.
The Sindh government may appeal the decision in the Supreme Court against the verdict of Sindh High Court for rejecting all its pleas with regard to the power of the provincial government to transfer the police chief and form commission for police reforms. At present, according to sources close to the law department, the government is considering different options including legislation and appeal in the Supreme Court. It is likely that the government may not go in appeal in the apex court against the entire decision but a part of the verdict, the sources said. Advocate General barrister Zamir Ghumro, who is also media consultant to the office of the law minister, said the Sindh government had complete executive authority over police under the law and it would continue to exercise that authority. Authority of the provincial government over police couldn't be curtailed or exercised by the federal government through the IGP, he added. The chief law officer of the province said that Sindh High Court upheld that police was exclusively a provincial subject and Police Act 2011 passed by the provincial assembly of Sindh was a valid law. It held that Police Order of 2002 had been rightly repealed by the Sindh Assembly. The AG said the SHC also declined the petitioners' pleas to form a commission for police reforms. It accepted the Sindh government's power to transfer IGP for compelling reasons, thus, rejecting all the pleas of petitioners. But the view of the court regarding tenure, transfer and posting of the IG based on the Sindh Government Rules of Business and Powers of IG under Section 4 of the Sindh Police Act is not in accordance with law and Constitution, as the provincial government had already repealed the relevant provision in the rules, according to the advocate general. The Sindh government maintained that it would initiate a new police law in accordance with democratic principles and would appoint the IG in accordance with its own law. Under the Constitution, autonomy regarding police rests with the provincial government and such autonomy can't be handed over to the IGP, said the advocate general. The Sindh government would soon enact laws keeping in view fundamental rights of citizens, he added. 
State functionaries are accustomed to using the police as an instrument to advance their interests.  Sindh's political elite decided it needed to dispense with the services of a police chief considered more upright than most. One of the reasons that Mr Khowaja incurred the wrath of the Sindh government was that he took steps to make the recruitment process more merit-based and transparent, a vital component in building an effective law-enforcement agency.  The provincial government met with failure, possibly because of pressure from the security establishment on the Nawaz Sharif government, it proceeded to try and render him helpless. The Sindh government's dictatorial efforts to sideline the IG have been dealt a disgracing defeat. For the people, however, the verdict gives reason to hope that the long overdue process of police reforms can now get under way.