As the Karachi violence suo motu case proceeded on Tuesday, the Supreme Court continued its criticism of the Sindh police and pointed out inherent weaknesses in its investigation reports.
Sindh advocate-general Abul Fattah Malik, who was asked in Monday’s hearing to arrange a screening of videos showing torture cells, prayed to the court for 15 minutes of hearing.
He also requested the court that the videos be screened in the CJ’s chamber instead of the courtroom, as some portions were not for everyone to see.
The videos, including those made through mobile phone cameras, showed the terrorists torturing victims, manslaughter, sexual abuse and the discovery of torture cells by Pakistan Rangers.
After the screening, the court asked police officers, including Durrani, assistant inspector-general (legal) and the responsible senior superintendent of police (SSP), about the FIR of an incident where a bus was set ablaze with passengers inside it.
Justice Ghulam Rabbani asked the SSP to read out the FIR, according to which two of the accused claimed to be workers of the Awami National Party (ANP) and stated that their motive was to ensure that their August 13 strike call (over the local government issue) was a complete success.
The court then referred to a joint investigation team (JIT) report submitted by ANP counsel Iftikhar Gilani, which included information on a Muhammad Ajmal alias Ajmal Pahari.
Justice Rabbani asked the SSP to read aloud the parts on Ajmal’s background. The accused, who allegedly killed 113 people, named one Nadeem Nusrat of London Secretariat and another activist from his party (Muttahida Qaumi Movement) who either arranged or received training at a camp near Delhi, India.
When inquired if the people named in the report were arrested, Durrani replied that they had been held and sent for trial.
The police team was then asked if the veracity of the Ajmal’s statement was checked. “This is a JIT report, not a police report,” Justice Rabbani said, telling Durrani to trash the report. “Please don’t constitute JITs if nothing is to be done,” he said.
Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany noted that Ajmal was also involved in the murder of a former Sindh advocate-general. Has he been charged in the case, the judge asked.
The bench observed that the accused can only be convicted if a proper case with evidence is laid before the relevant court.
The court then moved on to a second FIR, pertaining to the attack on a private bus carrying policemen to the troubled area of Chakra Goth in Korangi. The FIR was read aloud and the court specifically asked about accused Kamran Madhuri and pointed out that he was not named in the said FIR.
(Read: Bus attack - Can the Sindh police fight back? Yes, they say, but only criminals, not politics)
“Why has he not been named? These lacunas can prove fatal to the prosecution,” the CJ said. “[Later], when he will be freed for want of evidence, courts will be blamed for letting terrorists off the hook.”
The CJ also pointed out the delay in registering a FIR and the statement of a DSP who was injured in the attack. “This is the level of investigation,” he said. “Earlier, investigating officers used to record FIRs and make memos. Now, a moharir writes it at a police station instead of the crime scene and here the lacunas creep in,” the CJ said to Durrani, who said attempts were being made to enhance capabilities of officers at police stations.
‘Unhappy with suo motu’
“Some quarters are unhappy with the suo motu notice,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. “If even a single person is killed, the government is responsible. Elected representatives are sitting in the assemblies. The Senate is working. Why, then, is there so much helplessness? It is all a political gimmick,” he said.
“As the attorney-general, advocate-general and other representatives of the federation and provinces are present, the Supreme Court can ask why the government and its functionaries are not fulfilling their legal and constitutional obligations,” the CJ said.
Asma Jahangir testimony
Meanwhile, appearing at the hearing, Supreme Court Bar Association President Asma Jahangir appreciated the court’s suo motu notice and said that it had a very effective but limited role to play.
Calling Karachi’s situation ‘chronic’, she read out from the JIT report presented by Gilani, she said it shows that ‘the MQM has a machinery of violence’. “All political parties have cells within their ranks. Extortion in Karachi started much before the MQM came into being, but it became sophisticated in their time,” she said.
She rejected the idea of intervention of the armed forces. “Civilian governments must recognise that bad governance is a disservice to their own rule,” she said.
Addressing Additional IG Saud Mirza, the court pointed out that he has names of extortionists and should go and arrest them. Mirza said no one is coming forward to lodge a FIR.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.
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