LAHORE - Every third policeman was penalised on different grounds last year in the Punjab province, official data reveals, while many police were punished over absence from duty, corruption, and misuse of powers.

Out of the total 180,000 strong Punjab police force, 61,404 cops were punished in 2016 while in 2015 the department had awarded punishments to 57,318 policemen. The police strength has increased over the years and so has corruption.

The punishments, awarded to cops on various charges ranging from corruption to misuse of power, included dismissal from service, compulsory retirement, reduction in rank and pay scale, extra-drill quarter guard, censure, and fine.

All those punished by PSP cadre officers belonged to the rankers’ class. Officers from the police service of Pakistan, a powerful police cadre, are rarely punished. Even in case of a major blunder, they are just transferred to other powerful positions. Those penalised are constables, head constables, assistant sub-inspectors, sub-inspectors, inspectors, and deputy superintendents of police.

Most of the officers who were fired by the department on different grounds in recent years are back in business, thanks to Thana culture in the Punjab province. Also, a great number of officers skip punishments during departmental inquiries by using their connections.

The scale of punishments given to a large number of officers reflects poor discipline and rampant corruption in the country’s largest law enforcement agency. But some police officers argue that the department has a strong monitoring mechanism in which tainted officers are taken to task.

According to the latest police data available with The Nation, at least 35,348 constables, 4262 head constables, 9834 assistant sub inspectors, 10022 sub inspectors, 1886 inspectors, and 70 deputy superintendents of police were given punishments last year.

Three DSP rank officers, 20 inspectors, 153 sub-inspectors, 150 assistant sub-inspectors, 145 head constables, 2117 constables were dismissed from their service on different charges. Most of the lower subordinates including constables were dismissed from their services because of absence from duty.

Following are the grounds on which the law enforcers were penalised in 2016. The department awarded punishments to these officers on the recommendation of inquiry officers after allegations of corruption or misconduct were proved true against these cops. Police sources said all such officers were given a chance to appear before the inquiry officers to prove their innocence.

Death in custody

At least 75 constables, 245 head constables, 146 assistant sub inspectors, four sub-inspectors, and one officers of the rank of DSP were penalised on the charges of suspects’ death in police custody.

Corruption

As many as 232 constables, 64 head constables, 162 assistant sub inspectors, 118 sub-inspectors, 32 inspectors, and one DSP rank officer were punished on the charges of corruption.

Absence from duty

No less than 23,052 constables, 1866 head constables, 857 assistant sub inspectors, 1069 sub-inspectors, 67 inspectors and three DSPs were penalised for absence from duty.

Negligence

According to official figures, at least 4661 constables, 928 head constables, 2062 assistant sub inspectors, 2218 sub inspectors, 446 inspectors and two DSPs rank officers were punished on the charges negligence.

Criminal cases

The police department awarded punishments to 1434 constables, 96 head constables, 123 assistant sub inspectors, 59 sub inspectors, and 24 inspectors after they were found involved in different criminal cases.

Poor performance

In this category, at least 72 constables, 64 head constables, 824 assistant sub-inspectors, 682 sub-inspectors, 203 inspectors and 10 DSPs were punished over poor performance during the previous year in the Punjab province.

Misuse of powers

Similarly, 145 constables, 41 head constables, 172 assistant sub-inspectors, 171 sub-inspectors, 56 inspectors and at least four DSPs were given punishments for misusing their powers.

During background interviews, some police officers were of the view that there is a strong accountability system in the provincial police force. “Our department has an effective mechanism of prize and punishment.

The good officers are encouraged while bad cops are taken to task,” said a senior officer who works at the central police office.

The officer who spoke to The Nation on the condition of anonymity says that everyone has to follow the rules and discipline under a strict accountability system. “Cops found involved in corruption or any other serious violation of discipline are shown the doors.”

But police record reveals that many corruption-tainted officers were reinstated in service because they had powerful connection. Interestingly, they were given postings of their choice. So, nobody can fire them.

On the other hand, some officers complained that the subordinates or junior officers are regularly taken to task even for minor violations of police rules. According to them, the junior staff have been working under tough circumstances and they are often denied weekly-off and holidays. For an instance, at least 1291 Constables were dismissed from service last year on the charges of “absence from duty”.