The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday reinstated Additional Inspector General (AIG) of Police Ghulam Mahmood Dogar as the Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) after he was suspended by the federal government last month.
Dogar, a BS-21 officer was suspended early November for apparently not ensuring security of the Governor House during a protest by PTI workers against the assassination attempt on former prime minister Imran Khan during the long march.
The Governor House officials had written to the chief secretary and IGP, stating that a mob had tried to break through the main gate on The Mall, burnt tyres and damaged CCTV cameras.
The capital city police neither took any measure to stop the protesters nor did it register a case against the attackers.
In today’s hearing, a three-judge bench including Justices Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Sayyad Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi issued notices to the federal government over the police officer’s appeal against the Federal Service Tribunal’s decision (FST).
During the hearing, AIG Dogar’s counsel, SC Bar Association President Abid Zuberi contended that the FST had allowed the police officer to retain the Lahore CCPO slot in November but that the decision was overturned by another two-member bench of the same tribunal.
“A two-member bench cannot suspend the decision of another two-member bench of the same tribunal,” Zuberi said.
Upon hearing this, Justice Ahsan asked “how can one bench of the tribunal suspend the decision of another bench belonging to the same tribunal?”
“On one hand the special bench declared the petition as premature and then they suspended the order,” he said.
As the hearing continued, Justice Naqvi asked “how did the Lahore High Court say that the constitutional petition is not admissible?”
Responding to the judge, the SCBA president said the provincial government is not willing to relinquish the services of the CCPO.
The hearing was adjourned for an indefinite period of time.
The tussle between AIG Dogar and the federal government began earlier this year in September when the Centre withdrew the services of the CCPO and directed him to report to the Establishment Division for further orders.
However, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi had stopped the CCPO from relinquishing the charge, saying that the federal government could neither remove the CCPO nor transfer him.
The Centre made this move a day after Lahore police booked two PML-N ministers, as well as two senior officials of state-run PTV on terrorism charges for allegedly “fanning religious hatred” against Imran and “endangering his life”.
Differences further widened between the federal and Punjab governments when AIG Dogar held a meeting with CM Elahi and refused to leave his office.
A video clip of the meeting between the CCPO and CM Elahi went viral on social media, stirring up a heated debate on the matter.
The video, posted by the Punjab CM’s son, Moonis, shows Dogar bowing deferentially to the chief minister while meeting him. “Well done, come and hug me,” the chief minister says and embraces him in the video.
The images of their closeness created divisions in the police community, particularly among the officers belonging to the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP). Some of them supported the CCPO’s gesture while a majority of them declared it a ‘bad practice’ to be inclined towards a political party rather than following the orders of the Establishment Division [being a federal service officer].
Two months later after the assassination attempt on the PTI chief, workers of the party took to the streets in several cities of Punjab in protest.
PTI supporters vandalised public property outside the Governor House and some PTI activists tried to enter its premises by scaling the gate. Many others tried to get past the barriers placed by the law enforcement personnel.
The non-registration of an FIR against PTI supporters for the incident had resulted in the federal government suspending CCPO Dogar.
When he petitioned the court, the LHC denied his plea to overturn the suspension and transfer him. Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir had observed that the service tribunal should handle the matter.
Following a week-long controversy, AIG Dogar finally managed to get relief from the Federal Services Tribunal Islamabad that allowed the officer to retain the Lahore CCPO’s post.
A few days later, a separate two-member bench of the FST Islamabad suspended an earlier decision reinstating Dogar and ordered the constitution of a larger bench to hear the case.
The bench, headed by FST acting chairman Rana Zahid Mahmood and member Mohammad Javed Ghani adjourned hearing the review application by the larger bench till Dec 5.
It is pertinent to mention that the Punjab government has also appointed AIG Dogar as the head of the joint investigation team probing the assassination attempt on the PTI chairman.