- Yet another act of brazenness
Despite claims that the PTI would put an end to political interference in bureaucracy’s functioning, attempts to force the government officers to carry out illegal orders continue unabated. That this should happen after a stern warning a few days back from the Supreme Court to Punjab CM and others is all the more surprising. In a display of sheer audacity the government transferred IGP Punjab in violation of the ECP rules which forbid transfers ahead of elections and verdicts delivered by the Supreme Court in Anita Turab case and by the Sindh High court in IGP A.D. Khowaja’s case
The explanation given for the transfer by the interior minister is untenable. The IGP, he claims, was transferred for not abiding by the government orders. Further the government had developed disagreements with IGP over some inter-departmental issues. The efficiency and discipline rules for misconduct no doubt allow the government to proceed against an official. But this requires charge sheeting the officer before action is taken which apparently was not done in this case.
There are legal and constitutional safeguards to protect the civil service from excessive political interference which the PTI government continues to violate with impunity. The ordinary tenure of a civil servant is three years. In case there are compelling reasons to transfer him, the ruling in Anita Turab case requires these to be recorded in writing while the order is judicially reviewable.
Various reasons have been assigned to the sudden transfer. It has been maintained in media reports that certain MPs belonging to the ruling party were unhappy with independent-minded DPOs of their respective districts and wanted them transferred but the IGP showed unwillingness to oblige. According to another report the IGP was under pressure from above to remove police officers who had been cleared by the JIT in the Model Town killings case. Still another report ascribes his transfer to the IGP’s refusal to use his influence in the case of Punjab minister Mahmood-ur-Rasheed’s son. Unless the higher judiciary takes note, the government’s action is bound to send a demoralising message to honest and law abiding government officers.