Ex-IG acted as rubber stamp in DPO transfer: report

MEHR Khaliq Dad Lak
MEHR Khaliq Dad Lak

ISLAMABAD: An inquiry report has held that former inspector general of Punjab Kaleem Imam acted as a rubber stamp by transferring former Pakpattan district police officer (DPO) on the directive from the chief minister office.

“In the wake of these circumstances it can be safely concluded that the orders of transferring ex-DPO Pakpattan at an odd time on Aug 27 flowed from CM office and ex-IGP only acted as a rubber stamp,” said national coordinator for the National Counter Terrorism Authority Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak who prepared the inquiry report.

The inquiry report was submitted to a three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday. The bench had taken up a suo motu case regarding the transfer of Pakpattan DPO Rizwan Gondal for allegedly having an altercation with Khawar Fareed Maneka, former husband of First Lady Bushra Imran.

SC orders CM Buzdar to submit his response to inquiry report, hints at registering case against PTI leader Ashraf Gujjar under terrorism charges

On Sept 17, the bench had appointed Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak to investigate why and on whose instruction a senior police officer had been transferred in the middle of the night without any inquiry procedure against the backdrop of the Pakpattan incident.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ordered Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar to submit his response to the 213-page inquiry report. Khawar Maneka, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s Gujranwala president Ahsan Iqbal Jamil Gujjar and Advocate General for Punjab Ahmed Awais were also ordered to submit their replies. The report will be taken up again on Monday.

During the proceedings, CJP Nisar said the chief minister should also go through Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution that envisaged lifetime disqualification of a public office holder on abuse of authority. The court also hinted at issuing a directive for registration of a case against Ashraf Gujjar under terrorism charges for influencing the police officers.

According to the inquiry report, the IG made a recommendation for the suspension of Rizwan Gondal, surrendering the latter to the federal government and initiation of regular departmental inquiry against him in a one go on Sept 5 on account of inefficiency and misconduct. One of the main charges was that the DPO did not take timely action on the matter when the officer had already invited the aggrieved party the very next day to sort out the issue and even offered a cup of tea at DPO house, in both incidents, including the one on Aug 5 when a woman member of the Maneka family was misbehaved by police. But when the aggrieved party refused to come, then what type of probe or action was expected in the absence of the concerned party, the report wondered.

Moreover, the inquiry officer also recommended ‘reprimand’ to the extent of this charge, the report said, adding that this overdoing and overstretching created an impression that there was some pressure to teach the DPO a lesson or the IG behaved more loyal than the king.

The report said Ahsan Jamil Gujjar had during his meeting with the police officers at the CM office also uttered the words that “this was being condoned this time but if such things happen next time, all will suffer”. These words were certainly derogatory and insulting and constituted misconduct, the report said, adding that whether it constituted a criminal intimidation was purely a legal debate.

Referring to the version of IG Imam that there was no external pressure on him and that he transferred the DPO at his own accord, the report said: “If we accept this version, then in the normal course of action, a summary should be moved to CM for approval. It is only in urgent cases or on directions from higher quarters that a post facto approval is sought. In this case no such summary was moved initially.

So, if the orders had flowed from IG at his accord, then what was urgency to issue transfer orders at midnight and to convey to officer verbally to immediately report to CPO the following day.”

The report said other option was that there was a directive from somewhere else to shift him before a given deadline, adding that circumstances pointed towards that direction. “It is also interesting to note that summary for post facto approval was moved on Sept 4 whereas transfer order was issued on Aug 27,” it said.

The report also referred to an analysis report sent by the IG on various postings orders two days after recording his statement through office staff. “The purpose is to justify two things, firstly the posting order was issued after office hours in ordinary course of business and secondly there is also practice of issuing orders of DPO on verbal consent followed by post facto approval of CM,” it added.

Regarding the first issue, the report said, it was just a list of orders with no original orders which suggested that only two orders were issued after midnight out of which one related to the former Pakpattan DPO, while there was no detail available on the other posting.

About the post facto approvals, the report said, it was interesting to note that most of such approvals related to orders which were issued on the directive of the chief minister and then a summary was sent for his confirmation.

It is also revealing to note, the report said, in the instant case of Rizwan Gondal, the summary moved from the Punjab services and general administration department for the post facto approval carried an overwriting and the word ‘verbal consent’ of the competent authority seemed to be inserted latter on. Although correction had been initiated by the officer, it raised doubts as to whether the original word was ‘verbal consent’ or something else such as ‘verbal direction/orders’, etc, the report said, adding that it could be a mistake or an oversight, but it certainly raised eyebrows.

According to the IG, the report said, he had transferred the DPO to ensure fair play so that he was unable to exercise his influence, but common sense demanded an inquiry order and transfer order should have been issued simultaneously. The inquiry was ordered on Aug 25 and transfer order issued on Aug 27 without waiting for the outcome.

Published in Dawn, October 4th , 2018

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