Some 3,200 cadet police personnel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) are likely to be demoted to the ranks of their batchmates. They were promoted under the fast-track promotion rules of KP.
The promotion of cadets was contested by their coequals recruited in the police department through the Public Service Commission, who see cadet promotions as a violation of their fundamental rights. Whereas cadet officers are of the view that their promotions are according to the police promotion rules.
The Supreme Court (SC) in 2013 had declared the out-of-turn promotions against the constitution, and a violation of the injunctions of Islam. It also ruled that no police officer or civil servant was entitled to promotions on account of gallantry.
In 2018, a petition was filed by the affected police officials in the apex court. But the larger bench of the Supreme Court upheld the earlier decision, and again declared all out-of-turn promotions in the police department void. They directed the relevant authorities to determine the seniority of all police officers, and maintained that those who had jumped ahead out of turn would have to return to lower ranks.
The larger bench of the Peshawar High Court announced the verdict on March 24, 2022 (that was reserved in December last year) on the petition filed by the cadet police personnel against the police department for restraining the authorities from taking action against their demotion. They believe the decision of the Supreme Court of Pakistan was regarding the gallantry promotions awarded to officers under sections 8A and 9A of the Civil Service Act of Sindh and Punjab. The petitioners maintain the SC verdict does not cover KP as the cadet promotions in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are made under an already existing legal cover.
Cadet police personnel are police officials recruited as rankers in the police department. When a ranker is hired as constable, he has to successfully complete a training course. Those recruits who pass the course with more than 70 percent marks are allowed to participate in the cadetship examination. This opportunity is available for all recruits so the fundamental right of any recruit may not be affected.
“It is crystal clear that selection of cadets in the police is according to the Police Standing Order Act 2005. The laws and rules for promotion of cadets are not against the fundamental rights as cadetship opportunity is equally available to all trainees. The Peshawar High Court in its detailed judgment issued on March 27 clarified that a scheme of law in case of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is available, thus set aside all previous decisions of the police department with the direction not to take any action against the cadet police officers until the interpretation of scheme of law is done by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government,” says a source in the legal section of Central Police Office on condition of anonymity.
A source says that the cadet officials are experienced and perform well in their official obligations, which makes other police recruits jealous. They are aspiring to occupy higher positions left vacant by the demotion of cadets. “That’s why the decision of the Supreme Court was used by some probationary officers as a shield to deprive the cadets of their basic rights,” he says.
“In the light of standing order number 11 of 1987, which had subsequently been validated through Validation of Standing Order Act 2005, 13.06 police rules, 89.A manual of police training college Hangu and amended police rules 13.7 B of Police Act 2017, all KP police cadets have the right to promotions,” he adds.
The source further maintains that the larger bench of the Peshawar High Court has considerd all the rules as pertinent and has referred the case to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to clear their position on whether they want to continue with the above mentioned scheme of laws, and direct the concerned authorities to not take adverse action till the government’s interpretation.
“Both the SC judgements pertain to gallantry promotions awarded to police officers in Sindh and Punjab under sections 8.A and 9.A of Civil Servants Act of Punjab and Sindh which was declared as null and void, while the promotions given to cadets police officers in KP are supported by the orders and judgments of the apex court,” he says.
The hard reality is that officers inducted in the police force through the Public Service Commission don’t want cadet personnel to compete with them, he adds. “Cadetship makes their process of promotion slow. The probationary officers with the help of PSP officers of police service want to demote them to lower ranks and are creating unnecessary troubles for their personal gains by misinterpreting decisions of the Supreme Court. The larger bench of PHC has already announced a detailed verdict on the case by accepting demands of cadet officials.”
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government must look into the matter prudently, and end the controversy between cadet police officers and probationary officers at the earliest.
The writer is a student of History and a journalist interested in writing on gender equality, social issues and cultural heritage.