PESHAWAR: The snail-paced formation of the Public Safety and Police Complaints Commissions in 14 districts is likely to take one more year as the Peshawar High Court has stopped the local judiciary from naming their independent members over litigation.

Such bodies are already functioning in the other 12 districts.

In Jan last year, the KP Assembly had passed the Police Act, 2017, which provides for the establishment of safety commissions at district and provincial levels and complaint resolution authorities at regional level to check the police’s excesses.

High court stops local judiciary from naming their members over litigation

Dawn has learnt that since more than 16 months have passed after the passage of the law, the public safety commissions have been set up in 12 districts only.

Sources said the high court’s register recently wrote to the district and sessions judges across the province asking them to hold the scrutiny committees’ formation in abeyance until the final decision of a case about it.

Dawn has a copy of the letter.

Peshawar High Court Bar Association president Arbab Mohammad Usman had approached the court on March 31 seeking orders for striking down sections 57 (2)(3)(4) of KP Police Act, 2017, and 168 (A) of KP Police Order Amendment Act, 2015.

Section 57(2) says the high court’s chief justice will head the scrutiny committee for the selection of independent members of the provincial public safety commission.

Section 57 (3)(4) deals with the selection of independent members of for capital city and district public safety commissions and says a judge of the PHC will head the scrutiny committee for capital city commission, while the district and sessions judge will head do the same at district level. Section 168(A) deals with the dispute resolution councils.

Mr Usman had asked the court to declare those clauses unconstitutional and against the independence of the judiciary and rules of business.

He said the Constitution called for the separation of the judiciary from the executive.

The petition said the impugned sections gave the executive the role regarding selection of the members of public safety commissions at provincial, capital and district levels against Article 175 of the Constitution.

It said due to impugned section, any aggrieved person who has not been selected for the said posts of provincial, capital and district commissions will be deprived from getting relief from high court, which was fair and impartial, equity and justice as envisaged under article 10-A of the Constitution.

The petition said the judiciary being a separate organ of the state, having distinct and pivotal role in administering of justice couldn’t preempt, interfere or encroach on the sphere and function of executive for the selection of the members of the scrutiny committees for the safety bodies.

The sources said besides the pending litigation, the issue of appointment of secretaries, which had put the police and home departments at odds, was also stuck in the slow lane.

They said a proposal to amend the relevant sections of the KP Police Act, 2017, to allow civil servants to act as the secretaries for commission at district level was pending with the relevant quarters due to the police department’s opposition.

The sources said the provincial government completed its tenure on May 28, while the term of the implementation commissioner for the KP Police Act, 2017, in office would end on May 30.

They said the pending litigation and election process had put the issue of the establishment of safety commissions on the back burner for at least eight months.

“Even after the new government takes over after the next elections, this will not be first thing on their agenda,” a source said fearing a long delay on the matter.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018