KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Thursday reconsidered and passed The Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861, and Revival of the Police Order 2002) Amendment Bill 2019 after it was returned by the governor seeking certain explanations and making recommendations to be incorporated in it.
The Sindh Assembly had initially passed the bill on May 18 amid controversy with the opposition and had sent it to the governor for his assent. The Sindh governor returned it with the basic objection that the said law was “outrightly inconsistent with the original Police Order 2002”.
Besides, the governor’s summary referred to the superior courts that laid down certain parameters on the issue of operational autonomy of the police department, procedure for posting of the inspector general of police, security of tenure of the IGP, transfer and posting authority in the police and framing of rules for tenures and postings of police officers.
IGP’s term could be shortened either by the federal or the provincial government by consulting the other
Before the law, with amendments made by the government, was presented by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Mukesh Chawla, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the law had thoroughly been reviewed after the governor returned it to the government and many amendments had been made as were suggested by the opposition parties, civil society and other stakeholders, including the IGP Sindh.
He said the repatriation of an IGP was sorted out again and his term could be shortened either by the federal or the provincial government by consulting the other in compelling circumstances.
Besides, he said issues such as transfers and postings had also been sorted out, adding that his government had no aspiration to control or dominate the police; instead, the new law was aimed at making the police efficient, responsive, responsible and accountable in addition to their character as an independent body.
He said the law would accord the government its due power of oversight of the police force to ensure that it did not act with impunity.
He said the bill provided establishment of safety commissions at provincial and district levels and “I assure the house that no individual having any political leaning would be made part of those commissions”.
Mr Shah said the provincial public safety commission would be established within a month after the bill was formally promulgated.
He said with the reviewed law, the IGP’s office had further been strengthened.
Before the law was formally presented clause-by-clause for consideration, Grand Democratic Alliance’s Shaharyar Mahar and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan’s Mohammad Hussain demanded that it should again be referred to the select committee for a further review. The demand, however, was rejected.
As minister Chawla started moving the bill in the house, members of the MQM-P and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf walked out.
However, members of the GDA, along with those belonging to the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal, remained in the house.
GDA’s Mahar and Arif Jatoi sought certain amendments to the document. A couple of them were rejected by the house while the remaining amendments were withdrawn as the chief minister assured them that those were already incorporated in the reviewed law.
However, when Speaker Siraj Durrani put the bill before the house, some GDA members chanted ‘no’, yet, the chair said the bill was passed unanimously, adding that the ‘no’ chant was raised in a lighter mood by a few opposition members.
After the passage of the bill, CM Shah said the bill had set a precedent as no other piece of legislation had been consulted as thoroughly with all stakeholders as that. He thanked the members of the GDA, TLP and MMA for being a part of the democratic process.
Peace in Karachi
Mr Shah said it was the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party’s “political will” that brought peace to Karachi and the rest of Sindh. He said it was unimaginable in 2007 to travel in parts of upper Sindh without convoys protected by police contingents. However, the situation had changed drastically during those past 11 years.
He said a recent surge in crime was due to impaired government oversight over the police and divisions that had been created by certain quarters.
He said the government had taken care of all guidelines and directives of the court in formulating the new bill.
He lamented that the two major opposition parties walked out of the house without any reason.
Mr Shah’s tone turned bitter when he said the governor of Sindh was “violating the Constitution”. He said the Constitution was clear about the role of the governor and the latter was bound to act as desired by the provincial government.
“But this governor is hindering all this without reason and violating the Constitution. There should be a mechanism in the law to impeach a governor for violating the Constitution as we have for the president,” said Mr Shah.
He referred to the current assembly session, which was requisitioned by the government two days before the date set for presenting the provincial budget. He said the governor was not acting as per the government’s call to summon the session, which was clearly against the right of the provincial government, which had been given to it in the Constitution.
He was also critical of certain statements by Governor Imran Ismail, particularly the ones about the takeover of three major hospitals of Sindh by the federal government.
“You have taken over our hospitals, yet, your federal government has not allocated a penny for them in the current budget, but we will allocate a hefty amount for them.”
He said his party leadership and the government could not be frightened by the Centre’s intimidating actions.
“But we don’t believe in victimisation of political opponents.”
Earlier, Agriculture Minister Ismail Rahu said the government had made all required arrangements for the consumer courts as judges for such courts in all the 29 districts had also been appointed by the Sindh High Court. However, he said as not all districts had chambers of commerce, the provisions for establishing consumer councils required to be amended.
The Sindh Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in the house and was referred to the standing committee.
A resolution moved by MMA’s Abdul Rasheed was passed unanimously in which he had demanded that the federal government subsidise the essential kitchen items keeping in view the skyrocketing prices.
Mr Mahar said the chief minister should take cognizance of the rampant killings in Shikarpur district, where 16 people, including six women, had been murdered in the past 28 days.
Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019