LAHORE - 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 Sindh, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, and Balochistan provinces have already implemented the court orders against gallantry promotions in letter and spirit. 

Last week, at least 115 policemen including 20 SP-rank officers were demoted and removed from their positions. But these influential rankers are yet to be posted on their “original” positions. They are directed to report to the central police office while the department is working to re-fix their seniority.

Reportedly, the police department has sent a summary to the Chief Minister’s Secretariat for final approval 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 Shahbaz Sharif. “If they are given exemption from promotion courses, they will again become SPs and destroy the whole exercise of the Supreme Court for rule of law.”

The government should ask these demoted officers to refund extra salaries, benefits, and emoluments instead of paving the way to the rankers to retain their posts again. Most interestingly, all beneficiaries of out of turn promotions enjoy bad repute in the police circles.

In February, the police department had demoted as many as 3,700 junior officers in the light of the verdict of the SC but at least 20 SPs were not touched. 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.

Early this year, the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared “out of turn” promotions as illegal.  The top court had passed the order in Civil Appeal (184-L of 2013) titled as Regional Police Officer , Gujranwala Region and Others Vs Ejaz Ahmed and others on January 26, 2016. “It has been decaled in the aforesaid judgment that no police personnel or Civil Servant is entitled to out of turn promotion on account of gallantry award or others. It is further declared that anti-dated seniority to a civil servant is violation of the law”.

Punjab inspector general of police Mushtaq Ahmed Sukhera, last week, removed at least 20 SPs, and 85 DSPs powerful police officers from senior positions. Three district police officers and Lahore’s SP CIA were also among those demoted and removed.

At least 20 SPs had been demoted to the rank of inspector by end of February after the government withdrew “out of turn” promotions. Earlier, the SC had warned the Punjab provincial hierarchy of contempt of court proceedings in case the orders of the country’s top court are not implemented in letter and spirit.

The junior officers were demoted and removed from their posts immediately while many influential rankers were allowed holding important positions of senior level. Last week, they were removed from important posts after the department failed to further delay the process.

When asked about the re-fixing of seniority list, a police officer said on the condition of anonymity that some of the beneficiaries had been granted double promotions. For an instance, SP Kramat 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 demotion, an exercise is being conducted to check if their batch mates have been promoted or not. Then, they will be adjusted in the batch according to inter-se seniority”. Again it will be against the judgment of the top court, if the seniority-list is not re-fixed on merit, the officer feared.

The provincial police department had been employing delaying tactics in the implementation of two similar judgments the Supreme Court had passed in 2013 and 2015. The apex court in its judgment of 2013 had also declared: “No police personnel or civil servant is entitled to out-of-turn promotion on account of gallantry award or otherwise.” On January 26, the SC expressed its utter displeasure over non-compliance of the earlier orders and warned the Punjab police chief, the home secretary, and the chief secretary of contempt of court proceedings.

“The non-compliance of this judgment shall expose these officials concerned to contempt proceedings,” the judgment read. “We must record our displeasure over the inaction on the part of the Punjab government for the directions issued by this court in 2013 and 2015. We expect that all the out of turn promotions granted either to the police personnel or gallantry award or otherwise shall be undone within four weeks from today and their seniority be re-fixed,” stated the Supreme Court’s judgment.

The SP-rank officers who were demoted and removed from their posts included Multan SP (PHP) Shahid Razaq Qureshi, Lahore SP CIA Muhammad Umar Virk, Lahore SP (Police School of Intelligence), presently working as SP AVLS Lahore Awais Malik, DPO Khushab Faisal Gulzar Khan, SP CIA Faisalabad Ijaz Shafi, DPO Mandi Bahauddin Raja Basharat Mahmood, additional SP City Division Gujranwala Tahir Maqsood, SP Investigation Khanewal Naeem-ul-Hassan, SP SPU Punjab Syed Jamat Ali Bukhari, SSP Operations Rawalpindi Karamat Ullah Malik, DPO Gujrat Rai Zameer-ul-Haq, SP Special Branch Bahawalpur Region Amir Taimur and others.

SP SPU Central Lahore Syed Mukhtar Hussain Shah, Faisalabad SP (PHP) Farooq Ahmad, Commandant Lahore Ring Road Police Muhammad Qasim Khan, additional SP Sialkot Mrs Nasim Ch, SP Traffic Region Sargodha Masroor Ahmad Rana, SP PHP DG Khan Kafayat Ullah Bajwa, Additional SP Sadar Faisalabad Muhammad Mumtaz, and SP VIP Security (CM) Special Branch Lahore Amjad Mahmood Qureshi.