Supreme Court rules out ban on MQM during hearing of suo motu case on target killings in Karachi.
The bench held 10 hearings and reserved its judgement on September 15.
Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday announced the verdict in the Karachi suo motu case.
In his opening remarks, the chief justice said Islam is a religion of peace and it places great importance on the life of a human being.
Justice Chaudhry said it was the responsibility of the state to protect the life and property of the people.
He said law and order affects the economic situation of the country.
The chief justice said that the law and order situation in Karachi had worsened after the 90s operation against the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
He said that arrested alleged target killers Ajmal Pahari and Kamran Madhuri had political support.
The Supreme Court (SC) ruled out a ban on the MQM and slammed the Sindh Government for failing to take effective measures against target killings and extortion.
The chief justice quoted reports of intelligence agencies saying that some criminal groups had political backing and that such elements had become part of political parties.
The CJP also said that he was informed by Inspector General (IG) of Police that 40 per cent of the police officials had been recruited on political grounds and said that he was reluctant to act decisively.
The court said that banned outfits including Sunni Tehreek are involved in extortion, while there are allegations of the same offence against parties such as Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamat-e-Islami (JI), Awami National Party (ANP) and MQM.
The Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Karachi has also been directed to produce certificates from Deputy Inspector Generals (DIG) on crime control, while local courts have been directed to expedite cases.
The court published the verdict on the Supreme Court website.
Details from the verdict below:
- It is the duty of the State to protect and safeguard all these Fundamental Rights including the right to life and liberty as envisaged by Article 9 of the Constitution.
- The State is duty bound to protect the life and property of its citizens in accordance with law against all the atrocities, target killings, homicide, etc. The basic human rights of life, liberty and enjoyment of one’s property have been recognized nationally as well as internationally.
- The Federation and Provinces are equally responsible to adhere to the provisions of the Constitution, particularly for ensuring the enforcement of Fundamental Rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. The Federal and the Provincial Governments, though not directly, but indirectly share their responsibility in running the affairs of the Province in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution.
- There are not only Urdu Speaking, (When the Court uses the term ‘Urdu Speaking’ it is for a specific purpose. As it is the language common to all and even those who proudly speak Pashto, Punjabi, Sindhi or Baluchi, can and do speak Urdu), Pashtun, Sindhis, and Balochis, Punjabis, Saraikis, but foreigners and others also live in Karachi and all of them are the victims of violence, crime, fear and insecurity, as is evident from FIRs, reports, etc. submitted from time to time by the police department.
- Some of the hardened criminals, who associate themselves with the political parties do take support of the powerful groups/political parties as is evident from the reports of the joint investigation team of various intelligence agencies including ISI and others. These reports have been filed by Syed Iftikhar Hussain Gillani, throwing sufficient light on the criminal activities of these heartless criminals such as Ajmal Pahari, Kamran Madhuri and many others.
- It goes without saying that if the involvement of above accused persons allegedly aligned with a political party is established, it may entail serious consequences for said political party as well, because a political party cannot be formed or cannot operate in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan.
- It is also astonishing that most of the accused persons nominated in crimes have got their acquittal on the plea of alibi and false involvement. We are surprised to know that the law enforcement agencies, who are supposed to conduct investigation honestly, had allegedly involved persons falsely or half-heartedly in the commission of offences in which their fellow policemen were murdered.
- It seems that the police primarily being responsible to enforce law and order has no intention to deliver. Either they are scared or they are dishonest or absolutely lack the requisite skills.
- It could be that in the year 1992 operation clean up was launched against MQM wherein statedly, the police had played an active role, but subsequently, 92 police officers/officials disappeared and up till now there is no clue of their whereabouts nor is it known that by whom, and under whose patronage, such persons were abducted and/or killed. Another reason appears to be that police force has been highly politicized, recruitments have been made on political considerations.
- It came to light during hearing of the case that in police force many police officers have been recruited on political considerations who have managed to occupy such posts for extraneous considerations and senior officers in the rank of SSP, SP and DSP etc. have been inducted into the force from other organizations without following any rules and even they have not undergone training for the purpose of policing.
- The IGP stated that presently, the total strength of police force is 32,524, out of which approximately 12,000 are performing security duties, including 8,000 deployed with VIPs and only 20,000 personnel of police force were left for the purpose of policing of 18 million people in Karachi.
- The majority of the police force performing duty in Karachi comprises brave and devoted officers and men. They risk their lives often targeted by unidentifiable enemies enjoying mobility in action. They deserve the respect of the nation.
- If the police official/officers are not sincere with the victims belonging to their own rank and file, what expectation could one have from such force, which, admittedly, stands politicized, for initiating forceful action against the culprits involved in causing target killing, brutal murders, cutting limbs of human bodies and putting the dead bodies and torsos into bags with a view to terrorizing the society as a whole in general and the inhabitants of Karachi city in particular.
- The IGP has also made before this Court another admission while giving his presentation, summary of which has been reproduced hereinabove, that there are no go areas within the jurisdiction of different police stations.
- In this view of the matter, we are of the opinion that the police without having any commitment/dedication and other reasons highlighted hereinabove, is not in a position to make any break through unless the whole force is de-politicized and their morale is boosted by the senior officers, having credible service/ training, commitment, dedication always ready to discharge their functions willingly and to the best of their ability.
- The political face of the city has been taken hostage by militant groups of political parties. Political parties are penetrated by the criminals under the garb of political groups who use party flags. The militants and criminals are taking refuge in the lap of political and ethnic parties which use the flags of these parties to commit illegal activities with impunity.
- Besides, the DG Rangers candidly conceded that bhatta [extortion money] is a normal practice and criminals are collecting bhatta, which, every day, runs into at least 10 million rupees and it is being charged from an ordinary shopkeeper, rehriwala (push-cart peddler) up to the top businessman by criminals who have got the backing of the political parties who are the stakeholders.
- Bhatta is being collected invariably by the persons who claim their association with ANP, MQM, PPP, Jamat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehrik, etc. Besides, activists of the organizations banned under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 are also indulging in these activities.
- Initiation of Suo Moto proceedings by the Court sent one straight and simple message to an administration working under political pressures: “Take no political pressure from any quarter whatsoever”. This was an unstated message, but it was loud and clear.
- A depoliticized administration suddenly came to life in fighting crimes, criminals and Mafias, political and otherwise. That is what the intervention of the Court achieved. We the Judges have no guns to fight the terrorists, but we have the authority to ensure and strengthen the hands of those who actually apply the law.
- Courts can only act upon evidence and material presented before them. This has to be collected by the executive. The Courts cannot be blamed if the executive/police fail in their duty. Moreover the evidence thus collected must be evaluated according to the laws and rules prescribed by the legislature. In these especial circumstances it is for the Government to ensure that cogent evidence to support prosecution is collected and presented in the Court.
- The Court expects that a new culture of independent, depoliticized, and non-partisan prosecution comprising efficient, capable prosecutors will be established by the government to aid and assist the Courts. The Government must also depoliticize the administration/prosecution. This will be for its own good and for that of the nation. The Courts will keep a watchful eye and strike down all illegal pressures and orders that are brought to their notice.
- It may be noted that as far as offence of extortion of money is concerned, which can also be considered as bhatta, it is covered by sections 386 to 388 of the Pakistan Penal Code and also falls within the definition of terrorism given in section 6(1)(k) of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997.
- We may reiterate here that now it is not possible under the Constitution and law for the Armed Forces to dismiss the Government by adopting extra-constitutional measures, detailed reference in this behalf, if required, can be made to the only judgment of this Court in Sindh High Court Bar Association’s case (ibid), but at the same time the chosen representatives also owe a duty to the Constitution and if they feel that on account of any political expediency they can allow the continuance of the present position of law and order in the Province, it will be at their own risk and cost, otherwise under the Constitution they are bound to secure lives and properties, ensuring the proprietary rights, freedom of movement, etc., and failing which constitutionally such government is likely to lose their right of ruling.]
- Karachi is full of arms and ammunition of prohibited and non-prohibited bores including licensed and illicit, therefore, Karachi has to be cleansed from all kinds of weapons by adhering to the laws available on the subject, and if need be, by promulgating new legislation. All licensed arms genuinely required for security concerns and personal safety may be retained but these must also be registered with NADRA.
- We direct that there must be no ‘NO GO AREAS’ at all in Karachi. If any is found or credibly reported to the Court the Police and, if required by the Provincial Government, the Rangers shall take strong and decisive action to eliminate it. Moreover, if such an area is proved to exist to the satisfaction of the Court, we may require the IGP himself, and if necessary the DG Rangers also, to personally lead the operation into such areas.
- However, we have noted that about 80 percent FIRs, which have been registered during the last one month, have been cancelled by declaring them as “A” class and whatever progress has been made in causing arrests of the accused, it is after instant proceedings by this Court.
- The Federal Government could have provided assistance to the Provincial Government to control the disturbances without any delay, but we fail to understand the reasons prevailing with the Federal Government in not acting promptly as the learned counsel has himself by reciting verses from Holy Quran pointed out that killing of one human being is tantamount to killing of whole mankind.
- The morale of the police is low. Even honest Policemen are demoralized. They are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. On the one hand, they may be punished for doing their duty if it runs counter to the political objectives of the party in power and on the other, they are afraid of being shot by the persons they have apprehended or their associates. They are conscious of the fact that so many policemen who took part in the operations of 1992 and 1996 have disappeared or have been eliminated. It is necessary, therefore, for the Police to fully and impartially investigate and find out the circumstances of each such disappearance/elimination and provide a detailed report to this Court in respect thereof.
- Both the Provincial and Federal Governments/Executives have to find out solutions of the present scenario as per provisions of the Constitution.
- Police force being principal law enforcing agency has to be de-politicized and strengthened so that they could, with full commitment, dedication, zeal and zest, perform its bounden duty, and unless there is a de-politicized police, the situation of law and order is likely to become more aggravated.
- Banning any political party including MQM, against whom all the interveners mostly had voiced complaints is not within domain of the Court.
- There are criminals who have succeeded in making their ways in political parties notwithstanding whether they are components or non-components of government, and are getting political and financial support allegedly from such parties.
- DG NADRA and the IGP will set up a special joint cell with specialized officials and experts along with SMC 16/2011 ETC. 155 sufficient manpower to establish several teams to visit on the spot and identify illegal foreigners so that they may be dealt with strictly in accordance with law after a proper hearing and opportunity to present proof of their citizenship.
- IGP shall collect the record and facts about the disappearance or elimination of all police and other officials who took part in the Karachi operations of 1992 and 1996 or were witnesses in ethnic or related crimes and present a report to the Court within the next one month.
Updated from print version (below)
Supreme Court’s verdict in suo motu Karachi violence case today
The Supreme Court will announce its verdict in the suo motu case on Karachi violence in a development that is likely to have far-reaching political implications today, Thursday.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken a suo motu notice on the appeal of Allama Tahirul Qadri, the head of the Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran, in a bid to improve the law and order conditions in the metropolis, which had witnessed one of its most violent summers when at least 1,000 people were murdered in drive-by shootings.
The chief justice had issued notice to the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP), the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), and the president of the Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) to appear before the court on August 26 to assist in the case.
The court had sought a comprehensive report from the AGP, the chief secretary and provincial police officer (PPO) for Sindh on the deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi.
The chief justice constituted a five-member special bench headed by the chief justice and comprising Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Justice Amir Hani Muslim, and Justice Ghulam Rabbani.
Apart from Tahirul Qadri’s appeal, advocate Tariq Asad, Barrister Zafarullah of the Watan Party, had also filed petitions under Article 184 (3) of the constitution on Karachi’s law and order situation. Before the first hearing of the case, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had approached the registrar of the Supreme Court and expressed a desire to become a party to the case for the court’s assistance. At the first hearing, the court rejected the report submitted by the Sindh government and decided to shift the bench to Karachi.
After this happened, other political parties in Sindh also expressed a desire to assist the court on the law and order issue. The bench held 10 hearings of the case at the Karachi registry on a day-to-day basis. On September 15, the court reserved its judgment but issued a short order.
In this order, the bench had directed Sindh Advocate General Abdul Fattah Malik to submit a daily report to Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany on cases relating to crime in the city since July 24. The court had also asked for a report on what actions were taken against Karachi’s extortion rackets every day.
The two-member monitoring committee of the Supreme Court into the suo motu proceedings kept an eye on whatever action was taken by the police and government.
Top police and government officials were questioned on the cases against target killers and extortionists and how they were being prosecuted. During the last two weeks of September the spotlight fell on the special public prosecutors who were posted to the anti-terrorism courts. The judges asked how they could achieve results if they were on contract. At one point, Sindh Prosecutor General Shahadat Awan, who heads the department, and the advocate general who represents the entire provincial set-up, told the committee that all of the 37 prosecutors who were hired on contract, are being removed.
The reserved judgment will be announced today in court room No. 1, led by the chief justice at 1 pm.
Notices have been issued to all parties concerned, including the counsel for the parties, the AGP, the SCBA president, the president of the SHCBA, the prosecutor general and the inspector general of police for Sindh.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2011.