Civil rights campaigners have written to the federal secretary of the Cabinet Division urging that the Sindh government be made to revert its decision to replace Inspector General Police (IGP) A.D. Khowaja with Additional Inspector General of Police (AIG) Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti, Dawn reported on Friday.
The activists, who had successfully petitioned the Sindh High Court against the removal of Khowaja earlier this year, argued that Sindh government’s decision to replace the IGP was “malafide” and went against the SHC’s verdict, announced in September, that the IGP should continue working as Sindh’s police chief till the end of his tenure.
“We are not aware…whether the malafide decision/recommendation of the Sindh government has been conveyed to you or not,” the letter read. “However, we are making a representation on behalf of the civil society persons, because [we] were the petitioners in the Constitution petition… [and therefore] would be affected by any decision that is passed by the federal government on the malafide recommendation of the Sindh government.”
The letter pointed out that the provincial government had based its recommendation for Dasti on the grounds that Khowaja had been appointed on OPS (own-pay-scale) basis and that the Supreme Court had in 2014 directed that all officers posted on OPS basis should be returned to their posts. However, the petitioners argued, that basis of the recommendation “is clearly malafide and illegal for many reasons.”
As an explanation, the petitioners said that Khowaja had been appointed on OPS basis by the Sindh government itself and that the Sindh High Court had said it therefore could not now argue against its own recommendations.
The letter further mentioned that the Sindh government had also based its recommendation to remove Khowaja on the reason that a grade-22 officer was available so the position of the IG should be occupied by the senior ranking officer.
However, the petitioners argued, this reasoning “was a repeat of the notification dated April 1, 2017 through which the Sindh government had earlier replaced A.D. Khowaja with Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti as Inspector General of Sindh Police and this very Notification was quashed by the SHC in Para 101(g) of its judgment dated September 7, 2017.”
The petitioners thus deemed this an effort to subvert the SHC’s judgement in the matter.
An unending tussle
Khowaja’s differences with the bigwigs of Sindh’s ruling party on issues relating to the removal/posting of police officials before by-elections in some constituencies; his stance on a businessman said to be a close associate of PPP leader Asif Zardari; and irregular recruitment in the police department are no secret.
In April, the Sindh government had sent Khowaja packing after it appointed Dasti in his place.
The Sindh government had said it was “surrendering” Khowaja’s services to the federal government and appointing Additional IG Dasti as the IGP till “appointment/posting of [a] regular incumbent by the Establishment Division”.
The provincial government’s decision to remove Khowaja from his post had been seen by some as the PPP’s strategy to influence the upcoming general election.
However, the notification was suspended by the SHC in April and eventually overruled in September.
Even earlier, in December 2016, the IGP had been sent on “forced leave” by the provincial government.
Civil rights campaigners had moved the SHC against that move as well and subsequently restrained the Sindh government from sending Khowaja on forced leave.
According to the petitioners, the IGP had been sent on forced leave because the Sindh government had been “unhappy” with him over several issues relating to the recruitment of constables and suspension of police officers.