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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the Advocate General to file a copy of the recently passed Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002) Amendment Act, 2019 on June 13.

A two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi also asked the chief law officer to submit the details of the debate on the bill of the new law in the provincial legislature’s session prorogued after adopting the bill on May 18.

The bench was hearing a contempt of court application against Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and the then chief secretary for allegedly not complying with an earlier order of the SHC to draft new rules for transfers and postings in police.

AG told to file copy of the bill and record of debate in Sindh Assembly on new police law

At the outset, Advocate General Salman Talibuddin appeared before the bench and submitted that the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002) Amendment Act, 2019 had been passed by the provincial assembly in its sessions on May 18 in compliance with the directives of the court.

However, petitioners’ counsel Faisal Siddiqi contended that the proposed new law was in contrary to the directives issued by the court.

The bench inquired from the AG as to whether the opposition parties were taken into confidence on the draft law and observed that some members of a select committee, constituted to examine the draft law, from the opposition side had reportedly staged a walkout when it was passed by the house.

The judges observed that the matter pertained to the public interest at large would have an impact right down to the lower levels, thus it was imperative for all stakeholders to agree on the same.

AG Talibuddin maintained that the order of the court had been complied with in letter and spirit by the provincial government, thus the petition had served its purpose and, therefore, the same may be disposed of.

Justice Rizvi remarked that the issues discussed in the court’s order ought to have been deliberated upon. He asked as to how many of the assembly members had participated in the discussion on the draft law.

The AG submitted that the discussions on the floor of the assembly were constitutionally protected and privileged.

Justice Rizvi observed that be as it may but a copy of the bill of the new law should be submitted to the court so that the same could be examined.

Advocate Siddiqi argued that the bill had been drafted in contrary to the order passed by the court and contended that if it was enacted into a law, enforced and acted upon it would tantamount to committing a contempt of the court’s order on the part of the inspector general of police.

The bench asked the AG to submit a copy of the bill of the bill and also the details of the proceedings of debate on the matter held in the assembly on the next date and adjourned the hearing till June 13.

The application seeking contempt proceedings against the chief minister and the then chief secretary Rizwan Memon was filed by civil rights campaigners.

The counsel for the applicants submitted that on Sept 7, 2017 the SHC, in its judgement in the A.D. Khowaja removal case, had issued directives for drafting new rules for transfers and postings and submitting the same before the provincial cabinet.

He further argued that complying with the court’s directives, the then IGP Khowaja had drafted new rules and sent them to the provincial cabinet, adding that the provincial cabinet was supposed to consider the new rules in its meeting called for the purpose within 15 days of receiving the same from the IGP, but the meeting was held after a delay of seven days and the drafted rules were not considered.

Earlier, the court had repeatedly directed the Sindh government to convene its meeting to consider the draft rules as per law and submit a report before it.

The applicants’ lawyer argued that despite clear directives of the court, the provincial government had failed to consider the draft rules; therefore, contempt of court proceedings should be initiated against the CM and others.

Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2019