Civil society urges Sindh govt not to deviate from court verdicts on new police law

Updated May 13, 2019


Calls for reviving Police Order 2002 in ‘original shape’. — APP/File
Calls for reviving Police Order 2002 in ‘original shape’. — APP/File

KARACHI: Appreciating the move to revive the Police Order 2002, civil society organisations have urged the Sindh government not to deviate from judgements of the Sindh High Court and establish mechanisms to ensure independence and accountability of police by introducing the Police Order in its original shape, it emerged on Sunday.

This has been stated in letters written to Barrister Murtaza Wahab, adviser to the chief minister on law, and members of the Select Committee of the Sindh Assembly by Karamat Ali on behalf of civil society and petitioners in the A. D. Khowaja case (CP D 7097) before the Sindh High Court.

The treasury and the opposition leaders in the Sindh Assembly had invited members of civil society for a discussion on new police law in the province on May 7.

Later on, a meeting of some key civil society members was held at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan office.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Piler, Shehri, HRCP and Urban Resource Centre, Haji Nazim, Shahzad Roy and others, who were petitioners in the A.D. Khowaja case.

The participants in the meeting held deliberations and prepared a host of recommendations, which have been sent to the adviser and lawmakers of the relevant body for consideration before introducing new police law.

“Police Act 1861 is a colonial-era law and it was a big injustice to the people of Sindh to have this law in place,” according to contents of the letter obtained by Dawn on Sunday.

Karamat Ali, who is the main petitioner, stated that this was the precise reason civil society approached the Sindh High Court to have this law repealed.

“We believe and would continue to work for a system in which police are politically neutral, autonomous, independent and accountable,” said civil society.

They welcomed the decision of the government of Sindh to do away with the Police Act 1861 and revive the Police Order 2002, which they termed ‘comparatively a better law’.

However, civil society was of the considered view that the Sindh province needed a ‘new comprehensive police law’ and they believed that this could have been done by making ‘some additions and deletions in the original Police Order 2002’ through a consultative process with stakeholders, including members of civil society, throughout the province.

While describing the initiative of the revival of the Police Order 2002 as a step in the right direction and fully supporting it, the civil society has recommended the Sindh government to revive the Police Order 2002 in its ‘original shape’ and in true letter and spirit with “strong police accountability mechanisms as outlined in the original order”.

“All accountability mechanisms ie Public Safety and Police Complaint Commissions must be established forthwith after the passage of the law with genuine representation from civil society.”

The petitioners demanded that the law must not deviate or come into contradiction with the Sindh High Court’s verdict dated 7/9/2017 in CP No. D 7097 and the version of the Police Order 2002 which the Sindh government intended to revive must align with the court verdict.

Civil society also called for preparing and notifying Police Rules as required in the High Court verdict of 7/9/2017 without any further delay.

They suggested that the government should form a committee comprising members of treasury, opposition and other stakeholders, including experts and civil society representatives, to further deliberate and recommend reforms in the police systems in Sindh aimed at making the police apolitical, democratically controlled and effectively accountable, which meet the modern era requirements of the province and its people.

Karamat Ali on behalf of civil society appreciated both the treasury and the opposition for inviting civil society for talks on police law and assured them of their support in any legislation and policy making that ‘serves the public interest at large’.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2019