Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday said he would consider constituting a larger bench in order to determine the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments in a Supreme Court (SC) case regarding the posting of the Sindh police chief.
A three-judge SC bench headed by the CJP was hearing the case filed by the Sindh government challenging a Sindh High Court (SHC) ruling which restricted provincial authorities from replacing Sindh Inspector General A.D. Khowaja.
In today's hearing, the Sindh government's counsel Farooq H. Naek argued that the high court's interference in the posting of the IGP was a violation of the 18th Amendment.
Naek said that keeping the provincial government from passing laws or orders is against the sanctity of the Parliament. The CJP responded that while the apex court accepts that the Parliament is supreme, it reserves the right to "review the laws" that have been passed.
Last year, the SHC had ordered that Khowaja would continue to serve as police chief after the Sindh government said it was "surrendering" the IGP's services to the federal government and had appointed Additional IG Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti as the acting IG until “appointment/posting of [a] regular incumbent by the Establishment Division".
One month after the SHC's decision, the Sindh government had submitted a petition in the apex court, challenging the high court's decision and appealing that the SC nullifies the ruling.
Earlier this year, however, the SC had ordered that Khowaja would remain police chief with full powers of making transfers and postings until the apex court decides the provincial government’s appeal against his retention.
Naek said that the high court could issue orders to uphold basic human rights but cannot take away the rights provided by the Constitution.
Justice Nisar, responding to Naek, questioned whether the Sindh government had the authority to remove or replace police officers.
"Are you suggesting that the provincial government has the authority to remove the IGP whenever they want?" Justice Nisar asked. He then declared that the Sindh government does not have the authority to replace or transfer police officers.
Deliberating the jurisdiction of the parliament and the judiciary, the chief justice wondered if the court had the authority to nullify laws that contradict a clause of the Constitution. Naek conceded that this was a "grey area".
Justice Nisar said that he will "try" to constitute a larger bench that comprises judges from all provinces for adequate representation.