KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) expressed annoyance on Wednesday with officials for issuing National Identity Cards (NICs) of Pakistan to an Uzbek citizen, and issued notices to the NADRA chairman, Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and others to submit comments.
A divisional bench comprising Chief Justice (CJ) Ahmed Ali Sheikh and Justice Umer Siyal heard the plea of the Uzbek citizen, Abdul Hai, whose name was added to the Fourth Schedule - a list of 'proscribed' individuals, who are suspected of terrorism or sectarianism under Section 11EE of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. The CJ remarked that institutions have turned Sindh into an international orphanage. People from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Burma and others have started residing in Sindh and NICs are also issued to these foreigners due to the inefficiency of government organisations.
The counsel for petitioner argued that Hai had been living with his family near Dhabeji and had the NIC of Pakistan; yet his name was added to the Fourth Schedule.
However, the Sindh Additional Advocate-General Mustafa Mahesar said that Hai was an Uzbek citizen and he was suspected to be involved in the Mastoong bomb blast along with some relatives. Hai's name was added in the Fourth Schedule by police due to his suspicious activities.
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The CJ asked the Thatta East SSP to submit details regarding the foreigners residing in the district. The court also expressed annoyance over the issue of NIC to the Uzbek citizen and sought comments from NADRA, FIA and others specifying how many foreign citizens have been issued NICs up till now.
Lyari Medical College
The SHC issued notices to the Sindh chief secretary, health secretary and others for not releasing funds to Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Medical College Lyari and sought details of budget till January 16.
A two-member bench heard the plea of Vice Principal Dr Ameer Khasheli who said that they were not receiving infrastructure development fund for the college. The petitioner's lawyer, Ahmed Ali Ghamroo, argued that the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council (PMDC) has taken exception to the lack of facilities in the college, bad infrastructural conditions, and had decreased 50 seats for admissions. The lawyer said that it seemed as if the Sindh government was not interested in running the institute as contracts of college professors have also been expired. This has left the future of dozens of medical students in jeopardy. He said that funds were not being provided despite summaries sent to the Sindh chief minister, chief secretary and others.
The court, issuing notices to the chief secretary, health secretary and others, ordered them to present details of the budget on next hearing.
The SHC, while hearing the case of disappearance of three-year-old baby from Civil Hospital, directed to close down all medical stores established inside the premises of the Civil Hospital. The court also expressed its dissatisfaction over the Joint Investigation Team's (JIT) performance as well as on hospital's conditions and sought a detailed report on February 24 regarding the provision of medicines to patients.
The bench comprising Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto and Justice Agha KK also expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the health secretary. The secretary had mentioned in the report that funds have been released for the installation of CCTV cameras across the hospital. However, the CCTV cameras were not working the day the child disappeared from the hospital. The CCTV cameras were also off during the investigation.
In response to this report, the medical superintendent (MS) said that CCTV cameras were to be installed in wards and entry/exit passages till January while patients were being provided with all available facilities. The MS also raised an objection over the report by the Sessions judge regarding the non-availability of free medicines.
Saba, mother of the disappeared child, said in her statement that she took two kids for check-up to Civil Hospital on May 28, 2018. The younger one, Noman, went missing when she was collecting the OPD's receipt. Record of the CCTV camera footage has not been checked even after several requests.
SHC sought a detailed report regarding the provision of medicines and ordered to shut down all illegal medical stores. The court also ordered a review of the security system within the premises of the hospital and gave instructions to the JIT to carry on further investigations. The court ordered the finance secretary, health secretary and Civil Hospital MS to appear in court again on next hearing.
The SHC on Wedneaday sought the progress report on the recovery of more than 50 missing people from Sindh inspector-general (IG), Rangers director-general (DG) and others within a month.
The same bench, comprising of Justice Phulpoto and Justice Agha KK, heard the pleas of the missing peoples' family members. The bench expressed annoyance over the routine reports submitted by police and remarked that these reports were enough just to top up the files. Despite the court's orders to use modern technologies to recover the missing people, the authorities have failed to comply.
One of the missing persons, Bilal, appeared in court. Bilal said in his statement that he and Sajid were blindfolded and kidnapped from Azizabad. He was handed over to the police after nominating him in cases. However, Sajid is still missing. Sajid's father said that they were part of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement party, which has now been divided into several groups. He said that he approached the party after Sajid disappeared but no one helped him. Sajid was the brother of six siblings, if he has been killed his body should be handed over so that the family can have patience, he said.
The court, ordering the Sindh IG, Rangers DG and others to take effective steps to recover the missing people and submit report within a month, adjourned the hearing.
Forest department corruption
The SHC once again sought the details of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and other anti-corruption inquiries against the officers of Forest Department over the plea against restructuring in the department and directed the parties to present the report till January 16.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Agha Faisal heard the plea against the corrupt officers for restructuring the Forest Department through illegal changes.
The petitioner's lawyer, Qazi Ather, and conservative officer of Forest Department, Qazi Abdul Jabbar, present in court kept on accusing each other throughout the hearing. Justice Mazhar reviewed the text messages in their mobile phones.
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Ather argued that officers of Forestry Department were giving death threats to his client for not taking the case back. The chief secretary was approached for security but no action was taken. The court remarked that if there were any death threats, an FIR must be registered against them.
The court also expressed anger on the conservative officer saying that how could he give death threats to a lawyer as he could be sent to jail for it. The officer replied that he did it in retaliation of the lawyer giving him threats. The court directed both the parties to register FIRs if they received death threats.
The court further inquired that who issued the budget for Forest Department without the cabinet's approval and how was the permission granted for restructuring. Once again, the court sought details of anti-corruption inquiries against the department officials and summoned a report on next hearing.
The petition said that the corrupt officers had been profiting through the illegal changes in the department which had been divided illegally into three parts. There should be only one chief conservative officer according to the law but now two more officers have been appointed. All the senior officials have destroyed the Forest Department.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 20th, 2018.
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