DPO Pakpattan transfer case: SC rejects IG Punjab's report, orders Nacta inquiry into incident

The Supreme Court on Monday, while hearing a suo motu case pertaining to the transfer of the District Police Officer (DPO) Pakpattan, rejected a report submitted by former Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Kaleem Imam.

It also ordered the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) chief, Maher Khaliq Dad Lak, to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report within 15 days.

"We want the complete truth on this," Chief Justice (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said, adding that if he found that the report submitted by the IG had "favoured" someone, the matter would turn serious.

"If I find out that he has submitted a fabricated report he will never be able to serve in the police again," the CJP said.

IGP Imam had submitted a report with regards to the Pakpattan DPO transfer case on Sept 12, in which he had said that Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar was only acting as a mediator and had not attempted to influence the police in the transfer of DPO Rizwan Gondal.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, who is heading a three-judge bench, criticised IGP Imam roundly today, accusing him of writing positive things in his report "in order to save one person". The chief justice did not specify who that one person was.

"We reject your report," the top judge said, adding: "IGP sahab, you have proven your own officer to be a liar in your report."

"What kind of report is this? You have not investigated at all. You have sided with someone," the CJP said. "You did nothing to uphold the respect of the police in your report."

"You are not worthy of serving anywhere in this country," the CJP said. "We will summon the secretary establishment in this regard and he will tell us."

Imam, who was recently transferred to the post of Sindh police chief, replied: "My lord, I leave myself to the mercy of the court."

"We were hoping to get justice from you and you are asking us for forgiveness," the CJP responded.

The CJP asked the IGP if he had made the report himself, to which Imam responded in the affirmative. He explained that a committee had been set up to investigate the matter. He said that there were four individuals in the committee that night, including the Pakpattan DPO, the Sahiwal RPO Shariq Kamal, Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, and CM Punjab Usman Buzdar.

The CJP asked the IG Sindh what conversation had taken place between these individuals. "We are not concerned about other things," he said.

The court subsequently summoned Buzdar to court.

The additional advocate general of Punjab told the court that the CM Punjab had been contacted and he would be present under all circumstances. He added that the time of the CM's arrival would be confirmed and the court would be informed.

In an earlier hearing of the suo-moto case, the CJP had said that the court wants the police to be "free and empowered" and it did not "sit well" that the CM of Punjab or someone "sitting with him" ─ a reference to Ahsan Jameel Gujjar, an influential person close to the Maneka family ─ was responsible for the officer's transfer.

Gujjar and Buzdar had reportedly summoned DPO Gondal to the CM's office for an explanation of the events in Pakpattan shortly before the officer was transferred from his posting.

In today's hearing, the CJP asked where Gujjar was, as the court had also summoned him for today's hearing.

Addressing the IGP, the top judge said, "You keep talking about Gujjar's guardian certificate. Have you seen the certificate?"

Justice Nisar told IGP Imam that he was the kind of police officer who could not even ensure Gujjar's presence in court.

"We are the ones who have to clear him," the CJP remarked.

The top judge said that everyone was upset with the treatment of Maneka's daughter. "But did you get upset with the treatment of police officials? What kind of an IG are you, that you cannot protect the police?" he asked.

There was a short break in the hearing until later this afternoon, when Buzdar and Gujjar appeared in court.

The CJP asked CM Buzdar if he had called an "unrelated" individual to the Chief Minister's house, whose guardian Gujjar was, since he was referring to himself the guardian.

The CM Punjab responded that he had asked his staff to fix the problem.

The top judge asked him how he knew Gujjar and why he had called him at 10pm that night, to which Buzdar responded: "Since I have become chief minister, I meet people myself," adding: "I presented the police officers tea with my own hands."

CM Buzdar said that he told the police officers to take a look at the issue themselves. He also said that Gujjar had a personal relationship with the Maneka family.

The CJP said that IGP Imam had only "had only disgraced police officers".

The top judged asked why it was said that night that "in the morning don't show me this police officer's face", to which the chief minister responded saying he had not given any such orders.

"Chief Minister sahab, all your communications will come forward," remarked Justice Nisar.

CM Buzdar said that the government was trying to depoliticise the police.

The CJP said that the issue should be investigated, adding that the court had rejected the IG's report. He said that the IG tried to favour someone in his investigation.

"This is a question of the rule of law," remarked the top judge.

Why should police officers operate on someone else's dera? he asked. "Is this how a large province should be run?"

CJP Nisar enquired how Gujjar could be the Maneka children's guardian since their father was still alive.

Nisar added that the court would give a strict "observation" against IG Kaleem.

The CJP also alleged that Gujjar had told the DPO to go to the dera.

The advocate general of Punjab said that the DPO had himself assumed that he was required to go to the dera, and that the court should set aside this matter now.

"We will make sure nothing like this happens again," he said, adding that a lawyer had also been deployed to the CM's Office to deal with such instances.

The RPO of Sahiwal deposed that the CM had told him to listen to Gujjar as he was his friend. He said that the DPO had informed him about the incident with the Maneka family and had said that they had gotten the impression that they were to go to the dera and ask for forgiveness.

The RPO said that the DPO told him that officers do not go to deras to seek forgiveness.

"Ahsan Jameel said that the deputy commissioner is responsible for what happens in his area," the RPO said. "He told me to solve the problem."

"I still can't digest the fact that the transfer took place at 1 in the night," the CJP remarked.

The DIG Headquarters, present for the hearing, said that the order actually came at 10pm, but he was out. There was another call at 12am, he said.

"It was my son's birthday. I came back to the office at 1am to issue the order," he said.

The CJP inquired why the transfer was done with such haste, asking: "was the sun not going to rise the next day?"

He also remarked that no record was made of the transfer, but it was just pushed through.

"This is not someone's kingdom: this is a democracy." the top judge remarked.

Nacta coordinator Khalid Daad Lak was subsequently ordered to launch an inquiry and present a report within 15 days.

Pakpattan incident

Late on August 23 or early August 24, Khawar Maneka was flagged to stop at a security picket in Pakpattan by police, but he allegedly refused and raced ahead. The police had subsequently chased him down and forced him to stop, after which harsh words were exchanged between the two parties.

Subsequently, Maneka demanded that DPO Rizwan Gondal should visit his dera to personally apologise to him, he added. When Gondal's transfer orders started making rounds on Monday, it was widely speculated in news and social media that that the police officer was transferred because of the incident. The officer was allegedly transferred for refusing to apologise in person to Khawar Maneka over the altercation between him and the police.

The report submitted by IG Kaleem Imam in court last week stated that the chief minister had indeed summoned the police officials concerned without informing the IGP, but proceeded to act "only as an elder" to mediate between the parties in conflict.

The CM was very hospitable towards the police officers and during the meeting, which he "hosted", the report states, the policemen were not harassed or pressurised in any way.

Imam, in his report, further observed that the Punjab CM neither issued any written orders or gave any directives pertaining to the DPO's transfer. Instead, the report said, Buzdar had told the RPO to settle the issue himself, which "makes it clear that there was no interference in policing matters".

However, the report noted that DPO Gondal had felt that he was being "interrogated by a stranger" in the presence of the RPO and the CM during the meeting. The report recommended that, in the future, Punjab CM go through the provincial IGP to summon any police officials instead of doing so directly.

The report stated that while the DPO was displeased with being called to the CM's officer he hadn't complained about being harassed or pressurised during the meeting.



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