DPO transfer case: SC asks if this is ‘Naya Pakistan’

Islamabad: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday disposed of the matter relating to transfer of Pakpattan former District Police Officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal after accepting written apologies from Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Ahsan Jameel Gujar, and Punjab former Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kaleem Imam.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, heard a suo motu case regarding the transfer matter of Pakpattan’s former DPO.

The court accepted the written apologies on the condition that such an incident would not happen in future again. The CJP warned of re-opening of the matter if such a thing happened again. “Go and tell the prime minister that I am unhappy with him. Is this what Naya Pakistan is supposed to be?” the chief justice said while addressing the Punjab advocate general.

The CJP asked the Punjab advocate general to convey the court’s displeasure over the issue to Prime Minister Imran Khan. The court held that in pursuance of its earlier direction, former Punjab IGP Kaleem Imam had submitted an inquiry report, however, it had expressed dissatisfaction over the said report and then asked Khaliq Dad Lak, chief of National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta), to conduct a fresh inquiry to ascertain if there was any political intervention in the matter.

In pursuance of the court direction, Mr Lak conducted the fresh inquiry into the matter and submitted his findings before the court on October 3. The inquiry report held that the pressure was directly exerted from the office of the Punjab chief minister for transfer of District Police Officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal. While ex-IGP Kaleem Imam simply “rubber-stamped” the order.

“Orders of transferring Pakpattan ex-DPO at an odd time on 27-08-2018 flowed from CM office and ex-IGP only acted as a ‘rubber stamp’,” the inquiry report had concluded. After the inquiry report was submitted, the court had directed Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and ex-IGP Kaleem Imam and Ahsen Jamil Gujar to submit their replies within three days.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, former IGP Kaleem Imam and Ahsen Jamil Gujar the other day submitted their replies.

During the course of hearing on Monday, Chief Justice took strong exception to the Punjab CM reply to Lak inquiry report.

The chief justice said that instead of being ashamed of his involvement in the DPO’s transfer, he showed his arrogance. The CJP directed Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais to submit before it written apology of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Ahsen Jamil Gujjar and IGP Kaleem Imam.

In his findings, Nacta chief Khaliq Dad Lak had submitted that the orders for Gondal’s transfer in the middle of the night “flowed” from the chief minister’s office.

Punjab CM however, in his reply rejected the Lak report terming it a “figment of the imagination of a fertile mind.” The CM had also submitted that the Inquiry Officer Mr Lak had grudge against the present government for not appointing him as Punjab IGP.

He submitted that the inquiry officer had his own axe to grind against the present government since he nursed a grudge against the government for not appointing him as Punjab IGP.

He had further said that it is a fact that the name of inquiry officer was included in the list of three police officers, sent by the federal government to the provincial government for the purpose of appointment as Punjab IGP. However, he said that before the three names could be considered by the competent authority in the province, the federal government itself posted the inquiry officer as the head of Nacta and therefore the provincial government was saddled with the fate accompli.

Similarly, Ahsen Jamil Gujar in his reply had also termed the Lak inquiry report vague, ambiguous lacking lucidity regarding his conduct.

He stated that he is a law abiding ordinary citizen of Pakistan not holding any government or public office, thus is not likely to cause any state of susceptibility or intimidation on part of the state functionaries who even otherwise are not so gullible in terms of official functions. Gujjar is a close friend of Khawar Maneka. After Maneka’s car was intercepted by Gondal in August, the Pakpattan DPO was called to a meeting at the CM House where Gujjar was present.

He had prayed the apex court to dispose of the proceedings against him The Chief Justice however, on Monday took exception to CM Buzdar’s response to Lak’s report, asking if this was the kind of language that was to be used against a responsible officer. The chief justice warned that a joint investigation team may be formed to investigate the incident. At the same time, the chief justice also deplored the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, asking if this was how ‘Naya Pakistan’ was going to operate.

The chief justice also referred to the recent statement of Prime Minister Imran Khan during his visit to Lahore wherein, he had said that Usman Buzdar will remain chief minister as long as the PTI is in government.

Justice Ejazul Ahsan, another member of the bench termed the reply, submitted by CM Buzdar a direct attack on inquiry officer Khalid Dad Lak. During the hearing, Punjab advocate general when apologised on behalf of Punjab CM, the chief justice asked him to submit it in writing on behalf of Punjab CM.

The chief justice also criticised the Punjab CM for allowing Gujjar to tell the DPO that “all will suffer” if such an incident occurred again. The chief justice also asked Ahmed Awais, Punjab AG as to whether he knew the punishment for interference in state matters, which Gujjar is being accused of. Justice Ijazul Ahsen said that there was a minimum three-year sentence for the offence. Ahsen Bhoon, counsel for Ahsen Jamil Gujjar’s told the court that he had come to offer an “unconditional apology on behalf of his client”.

Similarly, Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais also assured the court that such a thing would never happen again while former Punjab IGP Kaleem left himself at the mercy of the court. Chief Justice while addressing Ahsen Jamil Gujjar remarked that his (Gujar) role of interfering in state affairs is highly condemnable, warning him to be dealt severely if in future, he again interfered in the state affairs

Gujar ki Badmashian nahi chaley ge Iss Adaalat main”, the chief justice remarked while addressing Ahsen Jamil Gujar. “Be careful during the remaining period of my tenure as Chief Justice of Pakistan”, Justice Nisar told Gujar.

AlamulKhabar Pakistan