SC set aside transfer of CCPO Lahore

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday suspended the transfer of Lahore police chief Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, observing that the chief election commissioner alone, without consultation of other members, cannot approve transfers.
The orders were issued by a three-member bench comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Munib Akhtar.
Dogar, as the Lahore CCPO was at the centre of a tussle between the federal government and the then-Punjab government under Chaudhry Parvez Elahi last year. Dogar booked PML-N leaders in cases and headed the Wazirabad JIT which was probing the attempted assassination of Imran Khan. The Centre tried recalling him, which was blocked by the Punjab government. It ultimately suspended Dogar, but he was reinstated by the top court. He was eventually transferred by the caretaker government.
In the previous hearing, the apex court had summoned CEC Raja Sikandar Sultan and grilled him regarding the “rush” in transferring Dogar. It had also urged Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to initiate suo motu proceedings over the delay in


the announcement of the election date for polls in Punjab within the stipulated period.
As the hearing began today, Justice Ahsan asked if the CEC was in court to which the ECP secretary said that Raja couldn’t attend the proceedings as he was unwell.
Resuming his arguments, the ECP secretary said that the Punjab government had sent the first verbal request for Dogar’s transfer on January 23, 2023.

Here, Justice Ahsan noted that as per the rules, the electoral body could grant permission for transfers in critical circumstances.

Meanwhile, Justice Naqvi asked: “Can the election commission allow transfer and posting under normal circumstances?”
At one point during the hearing, Justice Akhtar asked the ECP secretary and DG Law to explain how a transfer could be made on a verbal request. “Who has given the chief election commissioner the right to approve postings on verbal requests?

“If a Mr X calls and makes such a request, will the court allow it?” he asked. “Under what laws were assistant commissioners transferred at the request of a caretaker government?”

Justice Akhtar also observed that the ECP and not the CEC had the right to approve postings and transfers. “Is this a tradition [in the ECP] to approve transfers on verbal requests?”

Here, the ECP secretary said that such transfers had taken place in the electoral body earlier as well. “After a verbal request, a written request was also made.”
However, Justice Akhtar interjected that the written request in Dogar’s case was sent after the police officer was transferred.

At this, the ECP secretary explained that the written request was sent to ECP on Jan 24 and Dogar was transferred on Feb 6.

“Are decisions taken on verbal requests in normal circumstances too?” Justice Akhtar asked. “Can constitutional institutions issue verbal orders?”

Justice Ahsan also noted that a request came, it was approved and even implemented. “The correspondence was done after execution,” he said.

Justice Akhtar then asked if the ECP had devolved all its power to the CEC to which the ECP’s DG Law said that no such documents regarding this were present.

Subsequently, the court suspended Dogar’s transfer orders and sent the case to a five-member SC bench hearing a case, namely ‘Political Interference in Punjab Police Transfer and Posting’.
Dogar, a BS-21 officer, was initially recalled by the federal government in September 2022. The seemingly surprising move came after the Lahore police had booked two PML-N ministers, as well as two senior officials of state-run PTV, on terrorism charges for allegedly “fanning religious hatred” against former premier Imran Khan and “endangering his life”.

However, then-Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi had stopped Dogar from relinquishing the charge, saying that the federal government can neither remove him nor transfer him.

Dogar was also famously filmed meeting then chief minister Parvez Elahi deferentially after defying the Centre’s orders to report to the federal government.

Following a back-and-forth, the federal government suspended him in early November for apparently not ensuring the security of the Governor House during a violent protest by PTI workers against the assassination attempt on Imran during his party’s long march.

He was then reinstated as the Lahore CCPO as per a Supreme Court directive issued on Dec 2, 2022.

Dogar had been appointed as the head of the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the Wazirabad attack on Imran. In early January, he had proposed departmental action against four senior members of the panel after they said there was no proof that there were multiple shooters, despite the PTI’s assertions.

He had also proposed action against two other senior pol­ice officers, including Gujrat District Police Officer Syed Ghazanfar Ali Shah and a Counter Terrorism Department senior superintendent of police — who was not part of the probe team — for allegedly recording a video statement of the prime suspect arrested from the attack spot and leaking it to the media.

Dogar’s allegations had followed a letter the four members had written to him, expressing reservations over the way he had been trying to influence the investigation process.

Then on Jan 23, the newly installed caretaker Punjab government replaced Dogar with Bilal Siddique Kamyana as the new CCPO. –Agencies