Friday, February 17, 2023
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday suspended the transfer order of Ghulam Mahmood Dogar as the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO) and forwarded the matter to another bench of the apex court.
A three-member bench of the top court headed by Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan took up Dogar’s plea against the December 2022 decision of the Federal Service Tribunal (FST).
On Thursday, Justice Ahsan heard the case and directed the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to provide all the records regarding Dogar’s transfer. The court had also reconstituted the bench and added Justice Munib Akhtar to it.
Dogar — a blue-eyed officer of former chief minister Parvez Elahi — was removed as the city police chief by the caretaker administration on January 23 and replaced with Bilal Siddique Kamyana.
During today’s hearing, Justice Ahsan asked where is the chief election commissioner.
At this, the Election Commission's Secretary Umar Hameed replied that CEC Raja is unwell and hence, could not appear before the court.
The secretary said the Punjab government made a verbal request to transfer Dogar on January 23. He said that they received the written request on January 24 which was approved on February 6.
At this, Justice Akhtar inquired whether orders are issued on verbal requests normally.
Meanwhile, Justice Ahsan said that a verbal request was approved and orders were issued.
However, the transfer letter was issued after the implementation, he remarked.
"Do federal institutions work on verbal orders? Can constitutional bodies issue orders verbally?" asked Justice Akhtar.
Justice Akhtar remarked that the CEC can't decide regarding transfers and postings without consulting the Election Commission members.
"Has the Election Commission transferred its authorities to the chief election commissioner?" questioned Justice Akhtar.
At this, the director general (DG) law said that there is no document to delegate the authority.
“Who contacted the CEC regarding the transfer and postings and under which law the CEC is authorised to issue the orders himself?” asked Justice Akhtar.
The judge remarked that elections are to be held in 90 days and with every passing day, the 90-day limit is ending.
On January 26, the commission just issued a verbal order, according to which everyone from secretary to peon was reshuffled in Punjab, observed Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan.
“What the ECP is actually doing?” asked Justice Akhtar.
The judge also got infuriated over the consistent interruption by the ECP's secretary and cautioned him.
I know the basic law, responded Hameed.
At this, Justice Ahsan said that by knowing basic law you would not be called a lawyer.
“What was the hurry to issue verbal orders?” Justice Akhtar asked.
The only duty of the ECP is to conduct elections, said Justice Ahsan.
Meanwhile, the bench also rejected a petition regarding the polls not being conducted within 90 days.
“We have submitted a petition for election dates in the Supreme court and our petition should be heard,” Islamabad High Court Bar Association President Shoaib Shaheen pleaded before the court.
“The matter of elections is forwarded to the chief justice. Your petition is not before us,” observed Justice Akhtar.
The authority to form a bench and fix a date lies with the CJP, Justice Ahsan said.
On November 5 last year, the federal government had suspended then Lahore CCPO Dogar after an angry mob of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters staged a protest outside the Governor House in Lahore against the assassination attempt on the party's chairman, Imran Khan.
Dogar was said to be suspended over his alleged failure in providing foolproof security to the Governor House during the PTI’s protests and politicising the police department.
Despite the suspension by the federation, Dogar did not leave the charge of the post and had challenged his suspension in the Lahore High Court (LHC). He had also moved the Federal Service Tribunal (FST) against his suspension.
On November 8 last year, the LHC had dismissed Dogar's plea, saying it does not have the authority to hear the case. Meanwhile, on November 10 last year, the tribunal comprising Asim Akram and Mushtaq Jadoon had suspended the federal government’s November 5 notification in a two-page written verdict.
Approving Dogar’s appeal against the federal government's decision, the tribunal had declared his suspension against the law and contrary to the verdicts of the top court.
Later, on December 2 last year, an FST bench ordered to remove the CCPO, rejecting the single-bench order of reinstating Dogar which was then challenged by the cop in the apex court, which reinstated him.
Last month, on January 23, after the establishment of the caretaker government in Punjab, the transfer order of Dogar was issued once again. The government replaced Dogar with Additional IG Bilal Siddique Kamyana as the Lahore CCPO.