KARACHI: If the proposed Sindh Police Act of 2018 is presented and passed by the Sindh Assembly in the present form, it will likely undermine the letter and spirit of the Sindh High Court’s landmark judgement by curtailing the administrative, financial and operational powers of the inspector general of police (IGP), it emerged on Monday.

Sindh IGP A.D. Khowaja has expressed these apprehensions in a letter he recently wrote to the Sindh government, according to senior police officers.

The SHC in its judgement on petitions of civil society organisations had called for ensuring “autonomy of command and operational independence of police”.

The SHC had also directed the Sindh cabinet to promulgate a new Police Act in line with its judgement, which was also upheld by the Supreme Court on March 22, 2018. However, the detailed judgement of the SC is still awaited.

A.D. Khowaja expresses apprehensions in letter to Sindh govt

The IGP in his letter also advised the provincial government to delay the proposed legislation to “benefit from the jurisprudential wisdom and practical guidance” of the apex court in matters related to the reinforcement of the police as an institution and protection of citizens’ fundamental rights.

According to the IGP’s letter, the SHC had also directed the government to notify rules to be proposed by the IGP in the light of the said judgement. However, instead of notifying the rules, the Sindh government has introduced a “new police act”.

The proposed police act “obviously negates the spirit and clear directions of the SHC and SC judgements,” said Mr Khowaja in his letter.

He warned the government that any attempt to violate the principles laid down by the superior courts would prompt further litigation.

Therefore, Mr Khowaja advised the government to “reconsider” the proposed police act and the new law should “reinforce the institutional, legal, structural and administrative foundations of police force”.

Police observations

Informed sources told Dawn that recently a meeting was held, which was attended by IGP, all AIGs and DIGs of Sindh, the home and law ministers, in which the police made their recommendations about the proposed police act.

It was pointed out in the police briefing that the proposed police act appeared to be an “attempt to strengthen the political and bureaucratic control over police”.

Besides, the draft act also lacked external democratic and public oversight and community participation in police affairs.

Furthermore, it was stated that the provincial government had prepared the new police act without a “consultation process”.

As per the presentation, insertion of Section 12 in the new police act takes away the administrative authority and operational independence of the office of the IGP.

Moreover, the proposed procedure of posting of IGP was in “violation of the agreement between federal and provincial governments (1993 agreement) as enunciated in the SHC judgment.”

According to the police presentation, the spirit of the SHC judgement regarding the tenure of IGP and other senior police officers has been violated without giving due process through compelling reasons as set in the famous Anita Turab case.

The police leadership in the meeting proposed that instead of adopting the old model of bureaucratic control, the new police act must be based on modern and democratic policing principles, and the spirit of the apex courts’ judgement must be incorporated.

Published in Dawn, May 1st, 2018

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