The Sindh High Court (SHC) has finally announced its judgment in the case related to the transfer of Inspector General of Police Sindh (IGP Sindh), AD Khawaja; ending a protracted tussle that has been raging between the provincial government and the senior official. The apex court has struck down the orders of the Sindh government, and reinstated the top police officer of Sindh police to complete his tenure in critical and tersely worded judgement.

The court invoked strong precedents to re-establish that tenures cannot be arbitrary ended by the government. “There is associated with the post of inspector general a term or tenure as set out in the Sindh Government Rules of Business, 1986. The term is part of the law of the land insofar as this province is concerned. It has mandatory and binding effect…” In its judgment, the bench cited the well-known case, ‘Anita Turab versus The State’ to highlight the rule laid down in the law above. Criticising the Sindh government specifically, the court also noted in its judgment that frequent transfers and postings of police personnel also affects the performance and law and order situation in the province.

This ruling of the SHC in such a high profile case sets an important precedent that should govern the behaviour of the government in the future.  The announced decision, undoubtedly, will have far reaching consequences. The SHC has attempted to depoliticize the police department; making the order that police hierarchy must have control of its affairs such as postings and transfers, and that it should not accept any outside interference through any means.

Of course a precedent is only as strong as the conventions that mandate other institute to accept it. The Sindh government has not accepted the court’s ruling and plans to appeal it. Furthermore, it still exercises influence of pliable police officials who will continue to abide by the provincial government’s direction. Unless bureaucrats choose to use the precedent to refuse arbitrary transfers, the judgement will not have an impact beyond this specific case.