KARACHI: How and under what law does the government set head money on a wanted man? This and other related questions are likely to come up when the Supreme Court takes up a petition filed in Karachi on Thursday.
The petition, filed by Syed Iqbal Kazmi of the Pakistan Qaumi Movement, challenges the notification of the Sindh home department, announcing head money on Uzair Jan Baloch of the banned Peoples Amn Committee (PAC) and 34 others. Justifying the direct petition before the apex court in which the home secretary and home department are named, the petitioner maintains that in view of the urgency and apprehension that bodily harm is caused to Uzair Jan Baloch and others, he was permitted by Sardar Uzair, who also the chairman of the Karachi City Alliance, to move the highest court of the country.
He maintained that the provincial home department which, through a notification, announced head money of two million rupees on Uzair Jan and different amounts for the arrest of 34 others notified as absconders, violated the articles 4, 9 and 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan besides violating sections 31, 87 and 88 of Criminal Procedure Code. He also maintained that all the cases in which the police or Sindh home department is seeking arrest and has announced head money were false and fabricated. He appealed to the court to declare the impugned notification as illegal and void. The petition is likely to be heard after Eid vacations. It may be recalled that in the absence of a law, this practice of setting head money had often been questioned by legal experts.
While hearing a number of petitions filed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in the 1990s, the apex court had declared that the practice of announcing head money irrespective of the gravity of the crime was illegal. According to the petitioner, the impugned notification of April 25, 2012, signed by the then additional chief secretary, Waseem Ahmed, bears no reference to any law.
The notification contains the names of Baba Ladla alleged to be involved in the Shershah market carnage case (Rs3 million), Zafar Baloch (Rs0.5 million) and Shakeel, an alleged Lyari gangster (Rs0.5 million).
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2012.