SHC censures Sindh police performance in missing persons’ cases

Court summons FIA director, directs AIG to appoint SP level officers for investigation

Our Correspondent March 29, 2019

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) asked on Thursday for the progress report on pleas pertaining to more than 100 missing persons from the home department, police and other relevant departments by April 25.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto and Justice KK Agha while hearing the case of missing persons criticised the police performance. Justice Phulpoto remarked that many years have passed but the police failed to trace the whereabouts of the missing persons. He asked the police officers where the missing persons had disappeared to or were they in graves. "Where have they gone?" He said that the investigation officers (IOs) aren't competent enough to be employed. Families are crying and they curse in courts while the police officers roam around with files. He added that such personnel shouldn't even be in the police.

Justice Phulpoto remarked that the "court may write to the home secretary to sit in the court for a day and then see what these police officers do". The provincial task force constituted to look into missing persons cases is an incompetent institution, he said. He added that despite many meetings of the joint investigation teams, it is still not known why the locals go missing and how. According to the Federal Investigation Agency's (FIA) report, the travel history could be obtained of those people who do not have identity cards.

The court summoned the FIA director and directed the additional IG to appoint SP level officers for investigation of a missing person, Abdul Qadir. The court also directed the prisons IG to provide the record of inmates to the IO.

Progress report sought

The same bench also heard the case of Rs5.76 billion corruption reference in the information department and asked for a new progress report by accountability court on the bail plea of former secretary Zulfiqar Shalwani.

National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecutor, RD Kalor, failed to satisfy the court through his arguments. The IO for the case also didn't appear before the court.

The court reprimanded NAB prosecutor and asked for a progress report from the accountability court. The court remarked that trial was being delayed and asked why the witnesses weren't being produced. The lawyer for accused, Advocate Raj Wahid, said that in three years NAB presented 11 out of a total of 23 witnesses. He argued that the former information secretary was in jail for the past two-years and orders should be given for his client's release.

Arguments sought

The SHC sought arguments from the counsels for accused at the next hearing on April 18, in the case pertaining to corruption in Thatta district under the guise of teaching staff's allowances.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh and comprising Justice Omar Sial heard the case in which the (NAB) presented a progress report. The report stated that Rs60 million were transferred in the personal accounts of the accused as allowances.

The investigation against the suspects has been completed and seven people have been nominated in the case.

The CJ asked, "Where are the accused currently posted?" The accused replied that they had been dismissed from their posts to which the CJ asked, "Should we appoint you at the national exchequer for plundering more".

Lawyers' protest

A group of lawyers on Thursday challenged the strike being observed by their fraternity in SHC on the withdrawal of powers of subordinate courts to register under the A-22 cases.

The petition was filed by lawyers Muhammad Ali Lakhani and Barrister Mujtaba Sohail in which they observed that it was illegal to bar complainants and lawyers from entering the court. The Constitution gives the right to justice to every complainant and forcefully barring lawyers from hearings is a violation of Constitution articles 17, 18, 23, 10A and 24, read the petition adding that lawyers must be permitted to enter the court during strike. The SHC Registrar must be issued orders to ensure special arrangements in courts during lawyers' strike. 

Published in The Express Tribune, March 29th, 2019.


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