Responding to the Sindh government’s latest bid to remove Sindh Inspector General of Police (IGP) A. D. Khawaja, the civil society organisations through their counsel have sent a legal notice to the provincial government asking it to withdraw the letter sent to the federal government in this regard.
Through the legal notice, the civil society organisations have asked the Sindh government to withdraw its letter or get ready to face legal proceedings, including but not limited to contempt of court proceedings.
On December 30, the provincial cabinet had agreed to remove Khawaja from his post and put forward a panel of three PSP officers to the federal government to consider them for the post. The three names include Sardar Abdul Majeed PSP (BS-22), Ghulam Qadir Thebo PSP (BS-21), and Dr Kaleem Imam PSP (BS-21).
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According to a letter written to the federal government, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the Sindh government emphasised on the name of Sardar Abdul Majeed, saying that he was the first choice of the provincial government.
In the legal notice, which has been sent to the provincial chief secretary, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui on behalf of his clients argued that the bid to remove the incumbent IGP was “completely mala fide and illegal”, given that the cabinet, in violation of the Sindh High Court’s orders, took up the matter despite the fact that it was not on the agenda of the meeting.
The advocate also highlighted that contrary to the Sindh government’s earlier stance [that a grade-21 officer should not be posted as IGP in the presence of a grade-22 official working in the same department], the government has included two officials of grade-21 in the names, sent to the federal government for consideration for the post of Sindh IGP.
On December 20, 2017, the SHC had directed the provincial government to convene the meeting of its cabinet to consider the provincial police chief’s submitted draft of new rules for transfers and postings in the police department.
The cabinet, however, did not take up the matter on technical grounds [that the revised and amended draft of “The Sindh Police (posting, transfer and tenure) Rules, 2017” had not been circulted].
Earlier, the SHC had ruled 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.
Tug of war between Khawaja, Sindh govt
Khawaja’s differences with bigwigs of Sindh’s ruling party on issues relating to 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 recruitment in the police department are no secret.
The PPP-led Sindh government had twice tried to remove IG Khawaja from his post — first in December, 2016, when it sent him on forced leave and then in April, 2017, when it surrendered his services to the federal government and appointed Dasti, then in grade-21, as the provincial police chief.
In September 2017, the SHC ruled that A.D. Khawaja will continue functioning as the provincial police chief, bringing a brief end to the legal wrangling between civil rights campaigners and the Sindh government over the IGP’s posting.
The provincial government’s decision to remove Khawaja from his post had been seen by some as the PPP’s strategy for the upcoming general election. During the hearings of the petitions, IGP Khawaja 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 Khawaja relinquish his post and maintained its stay on his removal till it deliberates the matter.
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.