KARACHI: PPP-led Sindh government suffered a blow on Thursday as the Sindh High Court annulled its decision to send provincial police chief AD Khawaja packing. The court allowed the police chief to continue his office.
The bench, in its short order, set aside the government notification for relieving Khawaja from the IGP office, ruling that the provincial government could not remove an IGP sans any justification.
The court also made it mandatory for the government to follow the verdict in Anita Turab case under which an IGP could not be removed from his post before completion of three years of his tenure.
The provincial government has decided to challenge the high court’s decision in Supreme Court, government sources said.
On May 30, the bench headed by Justice Munib Akhtar had reserved the verdict on a set of petitions challenging government’s decision to remove IGP Khawaja after hearing final arguments from the petitioners’ counsel, Advocate General Sindh and Additional Attorney General.
In April, the Sindh government had removed Khawaja from the post and replaced him with a Grade-21 police officer, Sardar Abdul Majeed Dasti. The decision triggered outcry as civil rights campaigners went to the SHC challenging his removal. The court granted an interim order, allowing the IG to continue performing his duties till a final decision on the petitions.
The proceedings concerning Sindh government’s powers to appoint the IGP of its choosing spanned two months.
The bench had earlier observed that the police chief could be removed only after the cabinet endorses the decision as the Supreme Court had held in a verdict that the provincial governments could exercise their statutory powers conferred on them through the cabinet.
Afterwards, the Sindh government summoned a cabinet meeting which endorsed the decision of removal of AD Khawaja and appointment of additional IG Dasti in his place.
Throughout the proceedings, the provincial law officer kept on pleading with the judges to set aside the stay against the removal of IG Khawaja citing the worsening working relationship between the two sides.
The incumbent IG, however, had submitted an application asking the court to allow him to leave his job as discharging his duties amid growing hostility from the rulers had become increasingly difficult for him.
The PPP government and IG Khawaja are believed to have been at loggerheads over the latter’s refusal to appoint government’s favorite police officer ahead of by-elections in some constituencies and devising merit-based recruitment policy in the police force.