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LAHORE, Jan 14: Shortage of 160 officers in nine regions and the capital city police Lahore is badly affecting police performance, pushing the authorities to post officers on own pay and scale (OPS) in violation of the Supreme Court two verdicts.

According to the information gleaned from the Central Police Office, as many as 36 senior superintendents of police (SSPs) and superintendents of police (SPs) and 124 deputy superintendents of police (DSPs) are short against the sanctioned posts.

The worst hit is the Multan region where nine SPs and four DSPs are short of required strength followed by Faisalabad which lack five SPs and 10 DSPs (including five SDPOs).

Majority of posts are lying vacant in field formations and the ultimate sufferers are citizens who flood police offices for pursuing their cases and return without seeing officials.

The non-availability of supervisory officers is also causing an unnecessary delay in submission of challans to courts and increase in backlog of cases consequently.

The police record further says that in at least 15 districts, either the district police officers or other officials are looking after affairs of the investigation wing and in some districts even both posts of the regional investigation branch SP as well as the SP (investigation) are lying vacant.

Sahiwal and Faisalabad are the worst hit regions in the sense that their six districts -- Sahiwal, Okara, Pakpattan, Faisalabad, Toba Tek Singh and Chiniot -- do not have SPs (investigation).

According to the police statistics displayed on the official website of the Punjab police, as many as 366,266 cases have been reported till Nov 2012 out of which 32,875 are still under investigation, 27,105 others are so far untraced while 37,636 cases have been cancelled.

In crime against property category, 15,999 cases are under investigation and 23, 483 cases untraced.

However in crime against person category, 7,176 cases are under investigation and 1,574 others untraced.

The severe shortage of officers is also forcing the police authorities to appoint officers on higher positions on the basis of own pay and scale (OPS) formula in violation of the Supreme Court’s two verdicts.

The SC, during hearing a human rights case involving some police officers in March 2011, had directed the Punjab police to abolish all shoulder promotions and enforce a proper way of promotion in the police department.

In March 2012, an SC bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, had given a ruling against out-of-turn and shoulder promotions in Waheeda Shah case, directing the Sindh police authorities to demote all those officials awarded shoulder promotions.

Two latest postings have been made in Lahore police ranks after two assistant superintendents of police (ASPs) were posted additional SPs on OPS basis.

The ASPs have not yet fulfilled their promotion criteria and lacked proper experience being sub-divisional police officer SDPO).

Similarly, two inspectors are working on DSP posts in Lahore CIA police and the Anti-Terrorism Cell (ATC).

In some other parts of the province, some officers are also posted on higher positions.

A DPO, who didn’t want to be named, told this reporter that complainants suffered most when change of investigation -- a commonly adopted practice by complainants across the province—got delayed due to absence of board members.

He said the shortage of officers and additional charge to other officers always adversely affected administrative, investigative and legal matters simultaneously and police failed to deliver public service.

He said the only solution to cover police shortage was regular promotions in each rank and recruitments afterward. Promotions for the last time took place from inspector to DSP rank in March 2010.

The officer said police authorities had failed to make promotions in ranks of DSPs and SPs because of growing litigation among officers.