The Supreme Court has summoned Deputy Inspector General Police CIA Karachi Sultan Ali Khowaja on Wednesday next week (June 10), questioning why progress has not been made in the investigation into the murder of social activist and rights champion Perween Rahman.
A three-judge bench of the court, headed by Justice Nasir ul Mulk, expressed disappointment over the Sindh police’s investigation while hearing a petition filed by 12 civil society groups, including the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), on Tuesday.
During the hearing, SP Investigation West Zone Karachi Malik Muhammad Ehsan said that Sindh police have registered the case under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997. When asked what progress had been made to date, the police officer said DIG CIA Karachi Sultan Ali Khawaja, who is supervising the investigation, is out of the country. While the bench expressed its dissatisfaction with this response, Justice Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmad expressed annoyance over Ehsan’s lack of knowledge on the case, saying, “You are not competent to work as an SP Investigation and why have you not been sent to jail yet?”
Counsel for the petitioner Raheel Kamran Sheikh expressed dissatisfaction over the formation of a new Joint Investigation Team (JIT) into the investigation and requested that the team be headed by an officer from the federal government’s investigative agency. The court declined the request, saying it would set precedent if provincial police officers did not discharge their duties adequately in future cases. The hearing is adjourned until June 10.
Last month, District and Sessions Judge Karachi West Ghulam Mustafa recommended that the murder be re-investigated by an efficient, ‘independent and honest’ police official. Five cases related to the murder have been registered and a JIT comprising three officers was constituted.
According to the Sindh police’s recent report, investigating officers have now been directed to focus on collecting information about the identity of three fugitives involved in the murder. The JIT is expected to focus on issues raised by the Supreme Court’s bench. Investigating officers have been tasked with probing the alleged involvement of land grabbers and tanker mafia in this matter in view of the court’s observations.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2014.