Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa on Tuesday observed that the practice of adding the word “sahib” to one’s job title should be discontinued as it “unnecessarily elevates the status of public servants”.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word sahib means sir or master. It is used especially among the “native inhabitants of colonial India when addressing or speaking of a European of some social or official status”.
The top judge barred the use of the word today in an order pertaining to a bail plea. The case in question involved the murder of a child in Peshawar last year. The police had nominated the petitioner, Javid Khan, in the first information report on the basis of statements recorded by the victim’s relatives.
In his plea filed in the apex court, the petitioner had contended that the relatives’ statements did not stand reason and sought bail in the case.
The petition was taken up by a three-member bench headed by CJP Isa and comprising Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Aminuddin Khan.
In an order issued today, CJP observed that the Additional Advocate General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had referred to the deputy superintendent of police as “DSP sahib”.
“It is about time that the practice of adding the word sahib with one’s job title is discontinued as it unnecessarily elevates the status quo of public servants, which may instil in them delusions of grandeur and a perception of unaccountability, which is unacceptable since it is against the interests of the public whom they are meant to serve,” he said.
The judge stated that it transpired during the hearing that the case challan only relied on two statements and a proper investigation did not take place to ascertain what had happened.
“This is a classic example of an incompetently handled investigation,” CJP Isa observed.
He added that a practice had lately developed regarding bringing the case to court, “rendering this court into an office of the prosecution”.
“Rather than attending to the matter with the seriousness that it deserves, two police officers, who are investigating the crime, travelled from Peshawar to bring documents which could have been emailed, faxed or sent by WhatsApp, and then the relevant documents could have been filed, which could have been useful in determining the outcome of this bail application,” the top judge said.
He subsequently granted bail to the petitioner against surety bonds worth Rs100,000 and ordered that a case of further enquiry be made out.