The Supreme Court rejected on Friday a report submitted by the Sindh government on the Karachi law and order situation and decided to shift the bench to the metropolis to hear the suo motu case.
The apex court also issued notices to Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik on a separate petition filed by Tariq Asad who requested the court to direct the executive to advise the president to proclaim emergency in Karachi.
Heading a five-judge bench, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said the government has failed to maintain law and order in Karachi. “It is a question of the country’s survival and the issue will have to be resolved.”
The bench rejected the Sindh government’s report and pointed out that groups involved in target killings, abductions and extortion were not identified. The report stated that 300 people were murdered, 232 cases were registered, 117 target killers were arrested and 179 charge sheets were presented in the courts in the last month. Five hundred other cases of violence were also registered. It appears that information was not solicited from the country’s intelligence agencies, which creates the impression there is no intelligence sharing amongst the agencies, the bench observed.
The court directed the attorney general to contact the intelligence agencies for information and file a comprehensive report. Attorney General (AGP) Maulvi Anwarul Haq, advocate general Sindh, chief secretary and inspector general police Sindh appeared before the court. Dr Babar Awan represented the government as a private counsel.
“Why did the government not take action against the groups involved in target killings and allow them to behead people?” Justice Ghulam Rabbani questioned.
The Sindh advocate general argued that the court cannot help mitigate the violence and cited the example of an ‘assassin’ released by a court who had murdered more than a hundred people.
The chief justice said the court cannot award punishment without sufficient evidence; the weakness lies with investigation agencies and the prosecution. He questioned the AGP on the government’s failure to enforce article 9 of the constitution.
The court has taken suo motu notice in accordance with the constitution and is conducting the proceedings on the demand of 180 million people, the chief justice said. “Protection of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution is the court’s responsibility and we will ensure the constitution is enforced at any cost.”
Sindh government’s counsel Abdul Hafeez Pirzada submitted that no government can resolve the Karachi dilemma within a day. “There is no point in calling out the army in Karachi since it is a political issue.”
The bench reprimanded Sindh’s chief secretary and inspector general police for neglecting their work and appearing before the court in person. The court adjourned the case till August 29.
A press note from the Supreme Court stated that entry into courtroom No 1 at the branch registry, Karachi, will be regulated by passes. Special arrangements have been made for foolproof security on the court premises.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2011.