The Sindh High Court (SHC) ruled on Thursday that A.D. Khowaja will continue functioning as the provincial police chief, bringing to an end the legal wrangling between civil rights campaigners and the Sindh government over the IGP’s posting.
The court in its judgement restored Inspector General Police (IGP) Khowaja’s powers of transfers and postings within the police department. The Sindh government had in June withdrawn Khowaja’s powers to decide the transfers and postings of senior police officials in the province.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 IGP with the powers of transfers and postings.
In its short order, the bench dismissed the notification for removal of Khowaja from the IGP post, ruling that the provincial government could not remove an IGP without any justification.
The court also made it mandatory for the government to follow the judgement in the Anita Turab case under which an IGP could not be removed from his post before three years of his appointment.
Currently, IGP Khowaja 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.
Tug of war between Khowaja, Sindh govt
The provincial government and IGP Khowaja have been in a tug of war since last year, with one of the main bones of contention between them being the transfer and posting of police officials.
Headed by Justice Munib Akhtar, a two-judge bench had on May 30 reserved the verdict on a set of petitions against the government’s move to replace Khowaja after hearing final arguments from the petitioners’ lawyer and the provincial government’s chief law officer, Dawn newspaper reported.
The provincial government’s decision to remove Khowaja from his post had been seen by some as the PPP’s strategy for the upcoming general election.
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.
The Sindh government had said it was “surrendering” Khowaja’s services to the federal government and appointed Additional IG Dasti as the IGP till “appointment/posting of [a] regular incumbent by the Establishment Division”.
However, the SHC on April 3 suspended the provincial government’s notification for Khowaja’s removal.
The Sindh government alleged that the petition being heard by the court was filed in collusion by the original petitioner, IGP Khowaja and the federal government “to show the provincial government in a bad light”.
During the hearings of the petitions, IGP Khowaja offered to leave his post, telling the SHC through his counsel that doing his job had become increasingly difficult under the current circumstances as he has been facing increasing hostility from political quarters, with the provincial government keen to send him packing as soon as possible.
However, the SHC refused to let Khowaja relinquish his post and maintained its stay on his removal till it deliberates the matter.
Earlier in December 2016, the IGP was sent on “forced leave” by the provincial government.
Civil rights campaigners moved the SHC against the decision and subsequently the SHC restrained the Sindh government from sending him on forced leave.
According to the petitioners, the IGP was sent on a “forced leave” on Dec 19 because the Sindh government was “unhappy” with him over several issues relating to the recruitment of constables and suspension of police officers.
Born in a family of traders in Tando Mohammad Khan, Mr Khowaja had assumed charge as IGP in March 2016 after the removal of then IGP Ghulam Hyder Jamali who had found himself at the centre of a National Accountability Bureau investigation into mismanagement of police funds.