KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) has asked the provincial government to give details on where the additional special courts, proposed under the National Action Plan (NAP), will be set up before it nominates judges to head them.
The provincial apex committee had proposed 10 new anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) to be established in Karachi to 'swiftly' deal with the trials of terrorists.
According to court officials, the Sindh home department wrote a letter to the SHC chief justice, informing him that the government has decided to increase the number of ATCs in light of the decisions taken by the provincial apex committee constituted to implement the National Action Plan. Of the 19 ATCs in Sindh, 10 are functional in Karachi.
The officials privy to the correspondence said, on the condition of anonymity, that the home department requested the high court nominate judicial officers to head the proposed courts. The SHC returned, however, the home department's letter asking them to first provide the infrastructure required to establish the proposed courts. The home department was told to approach the SHC for the nomination of the judicial officers once these facilities are made available.
The number of the ATCs in the city was increased from five to 10 on the directives of the Supreme Court to effectively curb terrorism, target killings, extortion, kidnappings and other heinous crimes. However, the courts had been relocated twice as the provincial government failed to provide secure environment to the judges, the prosecutors as well as the suspects.
Initially, five ATCs were set up in a private bungalow in Sultanabad. Following an increase in the number of courts, the provincial government renovated the old barracks next to the Sindh High Court. Later, the courts were relocated to the Local Government Department's Complex in Clifton due to growing threats of attacks from militants.
On the proposal of the SHC, new buildings are being constructed inside Karachi Central Jail premises, where all the 10 ATCs would be shifted.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2016.
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