The Supreme Court on Friday suspended the transfer orders of Ghulam Mahmood Dogar as the Lahore capital city police officer (CCPO), ruling that the chief election commissioner cannot approve transfers without consultation with all members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
A three-member bench headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and comprising Justices Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Munib Akhtar subsequently forwarded the transfer case to a five-member bench that is currently hearing a case on “political interference” in the transfer of Punjab police officials.
The federal government had attempted to transfer Dogar out of Lahore but was refused by then-Punjab chief minister Parvez Elahi. The official is widely perceived as being biased in favor of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), with the opposition accusing him of targeting its leaders. He was also considered the only suitable official by the PTI to head a joint investigation team probing the shooting at Wazirabad on Nov. 3. After several attempts at his transfer were blocked by the Punjab government, the federal government suspended him, which was subsequently reversed by the apex court. He was eventually transferred by the incumbent caretaker government of Punjab.
During Thursday’s hearing, the apex court had summoned Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and questioned the “rush” in which Dogar was transferred. Raja had, in response, had said he was willing to reverse the order if so ordered by the court but the bench had refused to issue any such orders.
In Friday’s hearing, Justice Ahsan once again sought the appearance of the CEC but was informed he was unwell and could not attend the hearing. The ECP secretary explained that Punjab’s caretaker government had verbally requested Dogar’s transfer on Jan. 23, then sent a written request on Jan. 4, and transferred him on Feb. 6. This did not satisfy the judges who maintained that the CCPO was transferred on the verbal request and transfer letters were only issued after the order had been implemented.
“Do federal institutions work on verbal orders? Can constitutional bodies issue orders verbally?” questioned Justice Akhtar, adding that the CEC could only transfer officials in consultation with other members of the ECP.