LAHORE - The provincial police department has begun homework to refix the seniority of thousands of cops who were demoted to their original ranks after the country’s top court declared “out of turn” promotions as illegal.

All regional, district, and city police officers were directed by the police chief to immediately convene departmental promotion boards to decide the fate of demoted police officers. Initially, the department will take up the cases of Constable to Sub Inspector rank officials.

Thousands of police officers were demoted to their original positions most recently, after the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared the policy of “out of turn” promotions illegal. At least 115 senior officials including 20 SP-rank officers were among the beneficiaries of the out of turn promotion policy.

A senior official at the central police office yesterday told The Nation that all the cases would be considered “afresh” by the promotion boards at the district and regional police offices. “The (police) department is re-fixing the seniority-list of all the demoted officers. This exercise will help many deserving officers get promotions as well,” the officer said while seeking anonymity.

The officer also said that most of the demoted policemen had not been given postings since they were directed to “report to the central police” till further orders. “They come to CPO, mark their attendance, and leave the office,” the officer explained when asked about the postings of demoted cops.

The police department has been facing dearth of staff but thousands of demoted policemen are unwilling to work on their original positions, another official said.

When asked about the formula for re-fixing of seniority lists, a police officer said that some of the beneficiaries had been granted double promotions. For an instance, SP Karamat Ullah Malik was Inspector in 1996. He was promoted to the rank of DSP in 1998 and later on he was promoted to the rank of SP. But his batch-mates are still serving as inspectors in the police department.

“After their demotion, an exercise is being conducted to check if the batch-mates of demoted cops have been promoted or not. Again it will be against the judgment of the top court, if the seniority-list is not re-fixed on merit,” the officer added.

Nowadays, a good number of corruption-tainted and notorious rankers are visiting shrines and mosques after they were demoted to their original ranks by the country’s top court. They formed a union called Rankers’ Association and vowed to continue their struggle for the rights of lower subordinates serving in the provincial police department.

All beneficiaries of “out of turn” or “shoulder” promotion policy enjoy bad repute in the police circles. Many among them are known for extra-judicial killings and fake police encounters.

Interestingly, these officials of the “disciplined force” are holding corner meetings to press the provincial hierarchy but they deny grouping. “We will continue working hard (even) on the junior positions. We accept the orders of the government but we should be provided justice,” says former DSP Riaz, who is head of the so-called Rankers Association.

After months of dillydallying, the Punjab government is yet to fully implement the verdict of the country’s top court regarding the policy of “out-of-turn” promotions in the police department. The provinces of Sindh, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and Balochistan have already implemented the court orders against gallantry promotions in letter and spirit.

In Punjab, most of the demoted officers are yet to be posted on their “original” positions. Among the beneficiaries of out of turn policy, there are many officers who had skipped the mandatory promotion courses. Also, there are reports that the police department had sent a summary to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat to exempt these rankers from the mandatory promotion courses in order to re-fix their seniority. In simple words, this exercise, if done by the provincial government, will render the verdict of the supreme court of Pakistan ineffective.

According to insiders, now these demoted officers are struggling to get relief by involving CM Shehbaz Sharif.

“If they are given exemption from promotion courses, they will again get same positions and destroy the whole exercise of the Supreme Court for rule of law,” sources told The Nation.

Police sources say the government is yet to order these demoted officers to refund extra salaries, benefits, and emoluments. “Instead, the authorities are paving the way to the rankers to retain their posts again.”

A senior police officer, when contacted, said that the rankers were given “out of turn” or “shoulder” promotions by the governments during the last two decades and not by the police department.

In February, the police department had demoted as many as 6,700 junior officers in the light of SC verdict but failed to take action against 20 powerful SPs. They were allowed to continue working on the same positions. This selective implementation of the court verdict triggered uncertainty and rift among thousands of officers of the largest law enforcement agency.

Last month, however, over 100 senior officials including 20 SP-rank officers and one DIG were demoted, and made OSDs by the provincial police chief. The SP-rank beneficiaries of gallantry promotions were Shahid Razaq Qureshi, Muhammad Umar Virk, Awais Malik, Faisal Gulzar Khan, Ijaz Shafi Dogar, Raja Basharat Mahmood, Tahir Maqsood, Naeem-ul-Hassan, Syed Jamat Ali Bukhari, Karamat Ullah Malik, Rai Zameer-ul-Haq, Amir Taimur, Mansoor Naji, Akhtar Hayat Laleka, and others.