By Azam Khan
ISLAMABAD: Some good has come out of Pakistan Peoples Party MPA contender Waheeda Shah’s case of assaulting polling officers. The case which has set a precedent for investigating other disturbing incidents of violence by politicians against civil servants.
A similar incident in Sargodha, Punjab, has now pushed the Supreme Court into investigating the widespread nature of such incidents. Taking suo motu action against the severe torture of a school teacher in Sargodha, the apex court has sought a report from the establishment secretary and all four provincial chief secretaries regarding measures taken to protect the lives, dignity and job security of civil servants.
The decision to take action was made during an SC hearing of Shah’s case on Monday, after she was disqualified from holding public office for two years by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that a school teacher had been subjected to physical torture by father of serving Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Awais Madhyana and ex-MPA himself, Aslam Madhyana. As a result of the assault, the teacher suffered two fractured legs and is currently undergoing treatment.
The chief justice directed the Punjab Inspector General of Police to investigate the matter personally and submit a report about the incident. He also directed him to inform the court as to whether Sargodha’s District Police Officer, Dr Rizwan, had been transferred to Gilgit-Baltistan, because he had intended to take action against Madhyana.
The provincial police chief will submit a report on the next date of hearing, March 28.
In addition, the court has also decided to take up a petition filed by District Management Group Officer Anita Turab regarding the protection of civil servants. Initially, the petition had been filed with regard to Waheeda Shah’s case. However, the court decided to now take it up as a constitutional petition rather than clubbing it with suo motu action against Shah.
In their line of duty
While seeking reports from the establishment secretary and others, the court asked them to suggest ways to protect the fundamental rights of civil servants.
“It is the considered opinion of this court that persons, who are in the civil service are bound to follow lawful orders,” the court observed, adding it had been noticed that whenever civil servants follow lawful orders, they face resistance from political quarters and are often humiliated through transfers and baseless disciplinary proceedings.
Meanwhile, Mirpur Khas Deputy Inspector General of Police Ghulam Haider Jamali appeared before the court to provide updates on progress in the Shah case of assault. When the court has inquired about the status of Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) Syed Irfan Ali Shah, in whose presence the assault had taken place, Jamali failed to provide a satisfactory explanation. He did state, however, that the SDPO had only been appointed to the post because of a shortage of officers, although he had initially been an inspector.
The court order strictly forbade such “shoulder promotions” of an unconstitutional nature, stating that it expected all inspectors general of police and chief secretaries of provinces to demote officials who received shoulder promotions back to their original ranks, and to promote them purely on the basis of merit.