Punjab IG Shoaib Dastagir’s removal challenged in LHC

A Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader on Wednesday filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court challenging the Punjab government’s decision to remove Shoaib Dastagir from the post of Inspector General of Police.

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The petition, filed by PML-N leader Malik Ahmed, named the Cabinet division secretary, the Punjab additional chief secretary, Dastagir, newly appointed Punjab IG Inam Ghani, Additional IG (Operations) Zulfiqar Hameed and Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Umar Sheikh as respondents.

The petition has been fixed for hearing for tomorrow (Thursday) at 9am. LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan will preside over the hearing.

On Wednesday, the federal government appointed Ghani as the new Punjab Inspector General of Police — the sixth police chief of the province since the PTI came into power two years ago.

Dastagir had stopped working after Umar Sheikh, who was posted as Lahore CCPO earlier this month, allegedly spoke against the provincial police chief (PPO) during a meeting with senior officers.

Reportedly, Dastagir later met the prime minister and the chief minister and sought a probe into the alleged misconduct by the new CCPO and appropriate action, asking to otherwise be transferred to another position.

Separately, speaking to the media for the first time since assuming the charge of Punjab’s IGP, Ghani said that every police official, including the CCPO, was answerable to the provincial police chief.

“We are all government officials and we don’t go anywhere by choice. The government posted me here, so I am here. [Other officials] are also posted by the government.

“They have a JD (job description) and responsibilities. If they fulfil them, I’ll definitely be comfortable [working] with them. If any official, even if it is the CCPO, does not work properly, then I will not be comfortable with them,” he said.

Responding to a question regarding AIG Tariq Masood Yasin’s refusal to work with Ghani citing “seniority”, the IGP said: “We are batchmates. He is ahead of me in roll number but apart from that, we are from the same batch.

“If [any officer] of this rank, BS-20, BS-21, is not comfortable in working, it is their right to say so and we will try to accommodate him somewhere he is comfortable.”

‘Politicising the police force’

According to the petition filed today, pre-mature transfers in the police force violate the Police Order (2002) and the Punjab government’s rules of business.

It says that the Punjab government, instead of implementing the Police Order (2002) has “further politicised the police force and shown the door to recalcitrant and independent minded officers without any regard for their independence and tenure protected by the law”.

“The Punjab government has changed six IGs in two years and the average tenure is four months,” it states. “The frequent and arbitrary transfers of senior-most officials send a wave of resentment among the police community.” The petition also notes that three CCPOs have been posted and transferred in the last two years.

The petition urges the court to declare notifications regarding the appointment of the provincial police officer and the CCPO as “unconstitutional”.

It also urges the court to declare that the provincial government should appoint a CCPO only on the recommendation of the provincial police officer.

It also asks the court to declare that a “PPO and CCPO enjoy security of tenure for three years and that a premature transfer can only take place if premature transfer proceedings are initiated on the grounds of ‘unsatisfactory performance’ after providing an opportunity of hearing before the relevant Public Safety Commission”.

It adds that the commission and the government has to agree to transfer the officer.

The petition also asks the court to direct the constitution of a broad-based independent commission to supervise the effective implementation of the Police Order, 2002 and direct this commission to give recommendations regarding police reforms in the province.

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