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LHC Shows Displeasure Over Not Implementing Police Order 2002, Frequent Change in Punjab Police Command

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LAHORE: While taking up a plea relating to the premature transfer of the former top police officer of Punjab on Wednesday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) expressed displeasure over not constituting the District Public Safety Commission, Provincial Public Safety Commission, and Police Complaints Authority as required by the Police Order 2002 despite passage of 16 years of the law in the province.

During the hearing, a single-member bench comprising Justice Jawwad Hassan showed annoyance over frequent transfer of the IGP despite clear legal provisions and the Supreme Court’s verdicts against such arbitrary transfers and postings.

Advocate Usama Khawar Ghumman on behalf of Advocate Rahman Aziz has filed a petition, challenging the pre-mature transfer of former Punjab IGP Amjad Javed Saleemi and appointment of the new retired Capt Arif Nawaz Khan.

Terming the transfer against the slot illegal, the petitioner argued that the government action is sheer violation of the Police Order, 2002, the Punjab Government Rules of Business 2011, and the Supreme Court verdicts in the Anita Turab and AD Khawaja cases.

Ghumman argued that the petitioner being a citizen and advocate is aggrieved as whose fundamental rights to life, liberty, security, dignity and right to fair trial are jeopardized by compromised, partisan and inefficient law enforcement institutions.

He alleged that a malfunctioning Executive, which primarily relies on a police force for enforcement of laws, cannot effectively and adequately ensure the guaranties secured by several provisions of the Constitution.

Citing a number of precedents, Ghumman submitted that incumbent Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa has himself on numerous occasions stressed upon the need to reform the criminal justice system while emphasizing on Police Reforms and need to implement the Police Order 2002 in letter and spirit.

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“The courts of law cannot ensure fair trial and expeditious justice if the Police force does not perform its part of the job. Investigation of a crime is police‘s responsibility,” Ghumman submitted.

He said the frequent transfers and postings of the highest police officials compromise the independence and moral of the force.

He said that in less than a year, four IGs have been changed, meaning that the average tenure comes of an IG in this period is three months while the Police Order and Rules of Business guarantee a three-year tenure.

“The Police Order and Rules of Business are binding and must be adhered to – they do not exist or apply at the government’s pleasure – they are not optional, to be applied or dispensed with at will. If the law specify a term of office, then that applies as stated and must be adhered to. That is certainly the case with the post of Inspector General,” Ghumman argued.

The petitioner’s counsel said that at all times it must be kept in mind that exceptional circumstances and compelling reasons, if any, are precisely that: exceptional and compelling. The norm must be strict adherence to the term as provided.

During the proceedings, the AIG (Legal) appearing on behalf of the IG argued that the incumbent IG was posted in compliance with an earlier LHC order that had declared that the IG Captain retired Arif was entitled to full tenure.

To which, Ghumman responded that more IGs (Muhammad Tahir and Amjad Javed Saleemi) were posted in Punjab in the intervening period.

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Justice Jawwad observed that if the intention was comply with earlier the LHC order then why two IGs were posted earlier.

When asked, the AIG (Legal) Police replied that due to the changes in the local government laws, the Punjab government has not been able to constitute District Public Safety Commission, Provincial Public Safety Commission, and Police Complaints Authority.

The court, after hearing both the parties at length and noting the arguments advanced by Ghumman, issued directives the office to fix the matter in hand before the other similar case and adjourned the hearing till June 27.

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