SC bars premature transfers in police departments

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Orders KP, Punjab to implement Police Order 2002

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the provincial governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to implement the Police Order 2002 and barred the transfer of police officers before the end of their tenure specified in the relevant law.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ayesha Malik and Justice Athar Minallah issued these directives while hearing a petition against chronic political interference in the “Will the Punjab government follow the law itself or should the court pass an order?” asked Justice Bandial.

The chief justice also stated that transfers of police officers should not be done on the orders of any member of the provincial assembly, adding that according to law, a central police officer or divisional police officer cannot be removed before three years and it is the prerogative of inspector general.

The CJP further directed that the court be informed after taking instructions from the provincial government and noted that people are suffering due to crime and insecurity.

The apex court furthered that there is a perception that the police are used by governments as a political weapon, adding that according to the law, investigative officers should be separated from other police functions.

Chief Justice Bandial also noted that investigating officers should have a separate position so that they are independent in decision-making.

“There is no such thing as investigative skills in the police,” stated Justice Bandial, adding that the police present “flawed evidence that benefits the accused”.

“If the police will benefit the accused, where will the victim go?” asked Justice Bandial.

Additional advocate general Punjab then made his remarks during the hearing and told the court that transfers of police officers are taking place only after consultation. The chief justice then stated that killings are increasing in KP and so are cases of murder of lawyers.

Justice Bandial further said that the court has taken notice of the police transfers due to the public being affected, adding that the entire system is affected by the unrelated postings of police officials.

The court then adjourned the hearing of the case till the second week of January 2023.

In their petitions, Rana Tahir Saleem and Mohammad Javaid apprised the court of the alleged violation of Police Order 2002, mentioning that nine Lahore capital city police officers and eight inspector generals of police were changed between June 7, 2018 and Aug 29, 2022.

The frequent reshuffles reflected that the CCPOs and IGPs had average tenures of 4.5 and 6.2 months only, respectively, according to the petitions.

With the commencement of the hearing, CJP Bandial noted that officials at the helm must put on record the reasons if any transfer within the police department was inevitable.

CJP Bandial lamented that the police lacked investigative skills. “Poor evidence is presented in the court that ultimately benefits suspects,” the chief justice observed.