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Tuesday, June 18, 2024  
11 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

The curious case of the Lahore police chief who grew younger

Dogar's plea to change his date of birth rejected by service tribunal
Ghulam Mohammad Dogar with Pervaiz Elahi and Moonis Elahi.
Ghulam Mohammad Dogar with Pervaiz Elahi and Moonis Elahi.

Highlights

  • Federal Services Tribunal ruling sets a precedent on the application of Rule 12-A
  • Dogar will now retire in April, the month Punjab goes to the polls

Age is just a number for the people but this number may have political significance especially when it reflects the age of a senior police official.

A lot more was at stake than a simple number when a service tribunal ruled that Lahore Police Chief Ghulam Mahmood Dogar cannot be allowed to change his date of birth. The change he was seeking would have allowed him two more years on the job.

But the service tribunal declared that Dogar cannot grow younger in government documents.

Consequently, he will now retire in April 2023 — the month Punjab is likely to go to polls.

It is significant because the PTI wants him to be in charge of the Lahore police during the elections.

So, the story of Dogar’s attempt to change his age number is out of the ordinary.

Who is Ghulam Mahmood Dogar

Dogar is a pro-PTI police officer. One of his photos with PTI leader Pervaiz Elahi, reflecting the warmth between them, and a leaked audio conversation between him and PTI’s Yasmin Rashid testify to this.

He is also the only security official in the country who declared that an attempt on Imran Khan’s life on November 3 involved three assassins and not one. Hence, he endorsed the official PTI version that the attack was planned and carried out by a group and not a religious fanatic acting as a lone wolf, as the PDM government claims.

Dogar was the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) of Lahore when the PTI was in power until mid-January. As soon as Elahi dissolved the assembly on Imran Khan’s order and a caretaker government was formed, Dogar was removed from his position.

Dogar challenged the removal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which reinstated him as Lahore police chief on February 16. He is poised to resume work.

But he can’t stay on the job for long unless the case of his date of birth is decided in a different way than it was by the service tribunal on Thursday.

Dogar lost after coming close to victory.

Dogar’s efforts to change his date of birth

The police officer says he was born in district Sialkot’s Balqan village on December 28, 1965 but his date of birth in the school register was recorded as April 23, 1963 by “mistake”, making him two years older than his real age.

But Dogar never tried to rectify the record until 2015, when he was already 22 years into police service after joining it in 1993 through a competitive exam.

He filed a plea before a senior civil judge in Lahore seeking the ‘correction’ in his date of birth. Dogar named the Bahawalpur Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) as one of the respondents because the board had given him his matriculation certificate.

Your matriculation certificate is the most important legal document in settling the question of your date of birth. Dogar wanted to change that document.

Another respondent was the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA) which issues Computerized National Identification Cards (CNIC), the national ID, and other documents.

The Lahore judge granted Dogar’s plea and told BISE and NADRA to change his date of birth.

After having the date changed on his CNIC, Dogar applied to the federal bureaucracy for the “correction” in his service record. Without a change in his service record, he could not have his retirement date moved back by two years.

However, the federal bureaucracy, the Establishment secretary to be precise, rejected his plea for the date change. Dogar appealed the decision before the Federal Services Tribunal (FST) in March 2022. A larger bench of the FST handed down a ruling on Thursday, February 23, 2022, dismissing Dogar’s pleas for a date of birth change.

Tribunal underscores loopholes, sets a precedent

The tribunal underscored several loopholes in the case built by Dogar and his lawyers. It made clear why a service rule could not be applied retrospectively. So, the ruling has implications not only for Dogar but also for other government officers.

The federal government has a manual of Appointment, Promotion, and Transfers (APT) that defines rules to regulate, no reward for guessing, the appointment, promotion, and transfer of government officers.

Rule 12-A in this manual says: “The date of birth once recorded at the time of joining government service shall be final and thereafter no alteration in the date of birth of a civil servant shall be permissible.”

Dogar, in his appeal, said that when he joined the police service of Pakistan in 1993, the rule was not in place, so it should not apply to his case.

The FST has now ruled that the rule could be applied retrospectively — a key decision that will set a precedent.

The FST, in its 13-page ruling, also made clear why Dogar’s request for a change in the date of birth could not be granted.

It came up with the following arguments:

  • The age for passing the matriculation examination is 15-16 years. If it is accepted that Dogar was born in 1965, not 1963, it would imply that he passed the matriculation exam at the age of 13 in 1979. Dogar has consistently maintained that he passed the tenth-grade exam in 1979.
  • Dogar also recorded his date of birth — in his own handwriting — as April 23, 1963, on several occasions including when he appeared for his M.A. exam and when he applied for a residential plot.
  • He should have named the Cabinet Division as one of the respondents when he moved the Lahore court for the change of date on his CNIC if he wanted to see that change reflected in his employment record, but he failed to do that. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has set a precedent on this issue in a 2020 judgment.

Citing an earlier notification, the FST ruled that, “Mr Ghulam Mahmood Dogar, a BS-21 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, presently serving under Government of the Punjab, shall retire from Government Service on 22-4-2023 on attaining the age of superannuation.”

April 22 falls only two weeks after the April 9 date set for Punjab general election by President Arif Alvi. The date has not been confirmed by the Election Commission of Pakistan and if elections are scheduled for a later date, Dogar will not be in the Punjab Police.

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pti

lahore police

Pervaiz Elahi

Ghulam Mahmood Dogar