HYDERABAD-The Sukkur bench of the Sindh High Court has dismissed petition of around 80 policemen challenging the department’s action to revise their seniority and said the petitioners are at liberty to approach a relevant forum in accordance with law.
A division bench comprising Justices Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Arbab Ali Hakro passed the order the other day after finding the petition ‘incompetent’. According to the court’s order, the petitioners were appointed in Sindh Reserve Police (SRP) as constables. Over time and with approval of departmental promotion committee they reached the rank of sub-inspectors when DIG Sukkur range issued the order to revise their seniority and grades on May 12, 2023. The DIG’s order was issued in line with guidelines issued by Central Police Office vide order dated May 27, 2016, whereby an enquiry committee was formed to look into seniority or promotion of all police officials still holding the charge of sub-inspectors in the SRP purportedly in compliance with a judgement of the Supreme Court dated May 6, 2016. The committee submitted its report after scrutiny of entire record on a case to case basis after hearing all individuals in person and recommended bringing seniority of the promoted officials at par with their batch-mates of Sukkur range.
In the light of the recommendation, as per impugned order, the petitioners’ seniority was adjusted. Some were demoted to junior position and some were brought at par in seniority with their batch-mates.
The petitioners, represented by Fidaullah Qureshi and Noor Hassan Malik, claimed that firstly, they were not heard before their seniority was withdrawn or adjusted and secondly, the promotion of policewomen, who were made sub-inspector like men, was not withdrawn but a kind of moratorium had been enforced on their promotion till the promotion of their batch-mates.
The petitioners’ counsels termed it discriminatory and against Article 25 of Constitution. Assistant AG Sindh Ali Raza Baloch strongly questioned maintainability of the petition while arguing that the petitioners were civil servants and the petition was incompetent before this court as they had adequate remedy before Sindh Service Tribunal under section 4 of Sindh Service Tribunal Act 1973.
The court perused material and observed that the impugned order clearly mentioned that each policeman was called to appear before the committee which heard them in person and provided them full opportunity to explain their position regarding seniority over their batch-mates and the petitioners could not adduce any convincing reason or offer any explanation to justify their promotion beyond seniority of their batch-mates. “And what’s more the case of the petitioners for the purpose, as above, was examined in compliance with directives of Supreme Court. They were found to have been promoted beyond and above seniority of their batch-mates without any justification and hence this seniority was adjusted with their batch-mates through the impugned order,” said the judge.