KARACHI - The Sindh High Court dealt a double blow to the provincial government on Monday as it first ruled against the removal of the province’s top cop and then suspended the notification on Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh’s handover to a real estate developer.

The court quashed the Sindh government notification — announcing the removal of inspector-general of police Allah Dino Khawaja from his position — and ordered his reinstatement in office until the next hearing of the case..

The court authorised Khawaja to resume his duty and restricted the provincial government from taking any action in this regard.

A division bench of the high court, headed by Justice Muneeb Akhtar, ordered Khawaja’s reinstatement while hearing a petition filed by Pakistan Institute of Labour, Education and Research (PILER) chief Karamat Ali.

The Sindh government had to retreat from its position after the court order. It issued a fresh notification confirming Khawaja as the police chief, while withdrawing Sardar Abdul Majeed from the position.

The government lawyer pleaded in the court that the inspector-general of police had been appointed under Section 3 of the Police Act and it was not in violation of any court decision.

Khawaja resumed duties on Monday after the court orders.

The Sindh government removed AD Khawaja on Saturday and posted Abdul Majeed Dasti as acting IGP of the province. IGP Khawaja declined to leave the office until the orders of the federal government while Dasti took charge as acting Sindh IGP on Sunday.

Civil society opposed the action of the Sindh government and warned to challenge the decision. Representatives of the civil society also staged protest outside Karachi Press Club on Sunday against the provincial government’s decision. Protesters marched towards the Chief Minister House when police arrested ‘Fix it’ campaigner Alamgir Khan. They also used tear gas, water cannon and baton-charge to prevent the protesters from moving towards the CM House.

The representatives of the civil society moved the court which termed the transfer of AD Khawaja illegal and directed the Sindh government not to remove him.

On Saturday, a contempt notice was sent to Chief Secretary Rizwan Memon, acting IGP Dasti and outgoing IGP Allah Dino Khawaja. Faisal Siddiqui advocate vowed that if the Sindh government did not withdraw its notification about relieving him of his post, he would approach the court.

The notice cited the Sindh High Court’s December 28 order which had restrained the provincial government from removing AD Khawaja from his post in violation of Police Order, 2002, and the Sindh Government Rules of Business, 1986.

Earlier, the Sindh government sent the provincial police chief on ‘forced leave’ due to his reported differences with the Murad Ali Shah administration, mainly over postings and transfers in the police department.

Sources privy to the matter revealed that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah took the decision after differences emerged between his administration and Khawaja over multiple issues related to recruitment, appointments and transfers/postings in the Sindh police. They revealed AD Khawaja had declined to give undue favour to the Sindh government particularly in the matter of transfers and postings of the officers across the province. The sources said the ruling party of Sindh wanted an officer to facilitate it with regard to preparations for the next general elections. The second major reason was recruitments in the police department on political grounds. They added distribution of jobs was a part of the election campaign, but Khawaja was against recruitments on political grounds. A senior police officer said the Sindh government wanted 100 percent recruitments on political favoritism.

AD Khawaja is considered an honest officer in the police department and enjoys the support of the civil society, business community and other political parties.

Reacting to the SHC decision, Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah while talking to reporters in Kandhkot on Monday said “It is our discretion to appoint and transfer an inspector general of police.”

He firmly denied that there were two IGPs in Sindh . “Only one IGP is serving,” he clarified.

In yet another setback for the PPP government, the Sindh High Court suspended the provincial government’s notification to hand over Ibn-e-Qasim Bagh, a popular park in Karachi, to real estate developer, Bahria Town.

The order came up after initial hearing of the petition filed by Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar against the notification issued by the Sindh Local Government Department, handing over the park, for adoption, to Bahria Town for a period of 10 years.

The Local Government Department had also mentioned in the notification that the salaries of the park’s staff would continue to be paid by Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), headed by City Mayor Wasim Akhter.

The bench adjourned the hearing till April 16 after issuing notices to the respondents.