Sindh IGP told to screen out officials having patchy service record

 03 June 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the inspector general of police to screen out all police officials with patchy service records and initiate departmental proceedings against them.

A two-judge bench comprising Justices Aziz-ur-Rehman and Adnan-ul-Karim Memon asked the provincial police chief to complete such proceedings within a reasonable time in accordance with the dicta laid down in an identical case by the Supreme Court.

The court directed the office to communicate the copies of its order to the Sindh chief secretary and the IGP for information and compliance.

The directives were contained in a judgement recently passed on a petition filed by Shaukat Hayat Awan, a former sub-inspector of the Counter-Terrorism Department, challenging his removal from service on charges of misconduct.

Impleading the Additional IG, Karachi and others as respondents, the petitioner, through his counsel Muhammad Khalid, submitted that the he was issued a show-cause notice on the basis of which the SSP-West conducted an inquiry against him on a misconduct charge.

The SHC dismissed as not maintainable the petition of a former policeman against dismissal from service

He submitted that the show-cause notice stated that the petitioner and other police officials were allegedly involved in the cases of kidnapping for ransom and other heinous crimes.

The counsel submitted that the petitioner was falsely implicated in the departmental proceedings and was awarded the major penalty of dismissal from service by an unauthorised officer — SSP CTD Operation-II Junaid Ahmed Shaikh — vide order dated March 21, 2016 as the officer found his explanation as unsatisfactory.

The petitioner filed a departmental appeal before the Additional IG CTD, which was decided in his favour on Nov 6, 2017 with a direction for initiating fresh departmental proceedings against him by his parent department, i.e. Karachi Range, the counsel said.

It was further submitted that an inquiry conducted by the SSP-West concluded that a kidnapping for ransom case was registered against the petitioner and other police officials, but the prosecution had not provide the allegations against the accused police officials that they kidnapped anyone for ransom.

It was further recommended that while the parallel cases regarding illegal harassment, detaining and taking money from citizens had been considered by the SSP Investigation-I, therefore, one of the major punishment of forfeiture of approved service was suggested to be awarded to the SI Awan and further order that he may not be again posted in the CTD, the counsel informed the court.

Advocate Khalid argued that his client had been vexed twice for the same allegation, which was a violation of Article 13 of the Constitution.

He added that the petitioner was entitled to a fair opportunity in terms of the show-cause notice to clear his position in terms of Article 10-A of the Constitution. He added that the petitioner had been exonerated of charges by the court of law as well as departmental proceedings.

Provincial law officer Abdul Jalil Zubedi opposed the submissions of the petitioner’s counsel and submitted that after giving a proper opportunity of hearing the petitioner was found guilty of misconduct and major penalty of dismissal from service was awarded to him.

He stated that the petition was not maintainable and pleaded the court to dismiss it.

“Prima-facie, the penalty of dismissal from service of a police officer attracts only for the gravest acts of misconduct or as the cumulative effect of continued misconduct proving incorrigibility and complete unfitness for police service that whether such police officer is fit to continue in the police service,” the bench remarked in the judgement.

The order said: “It is the prime duty of the superior officers in the police hierarchy to ensure discipline within the police force, which is a public service and also to keep a strict check on the conduct of such police officers.

“A constant watchful-eye on the police officer is need of the day and if the competent authority reaches the conclusion that the police officer has indulged in acts of misconduct, which prove incorrigibility and render complete unfitness of such police personnel in the service, then the competent authority should award the penalty of dismissal from service.”

The bench noted that the scope of Police Rule 16.2 was wide and the object behind it was to discipline the force and to ensure that police officers in uniform will not behave in a manner which entails patronising crime or other social evils.

The judges observed that the scheme behind this Rule was to ensure that the police officials in discharge of their duties shall act in a manner which should restore confidence in the public at large.

“It is well settled law now that if a police official with such patchy record is allowed to continue in service, it would not only damage the image of police force, but will also encourage social evils in the society which the police force is required to eliminate,” the order said.

The bench dismissed the petition as not maintainable.

However, the court said that the petitioner may seek appropriate remedy subject to the conditions enumerated under the law.

“Before parting with this order, we direct the Inspector General of Police, Sindh to screen out all those police officials who have patchy records in their dossiers and initiate departmental proceedings against them under the law and the same proceedings be completed within a reasonable time strictly in accordance with the dicta laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of Additional Inspector General of Police Karachi & another v. Muhammad Ismail Lashari & another [2017 PLC (CS) 279],” the order stated.

“Let a copy of this order be communicated to the Chief Secretary, Sindh and Inspector General of Police, Sindh for information and compliance,” it added.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2019