KARACHI: A district and sessions court reserved on Thursday its orders on a plea submitted by a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader to book the chief minister and his cabinet members for the heatwave deaths in Karachi.
PTI deputy general secretary Imran Ismail had moved an application on Tuesday under Section 22-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure to the court of district South's top judge, contending that the provincial government was responsible for "over 2,000 deaths" in Karachi.
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He named CM Qaim Ali Shah, local bodies minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, health minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, former Karachi Metropolitan Corporation administrator Saqib Soomro, provincial disaster management authority head Suleman Shah as respondents in his plea.
The authorities exhibited negligent behaviour and turned a blind eye towards the people affected from heatstroke, he claimed, adding that nothing was done to mitigate their sufferings despite having information of the calamity in advance. According to Ismail, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations, had issued a report almost a year ago, warning that temperature will increase further in the country.
He told the court that the Civil Lines SHO refused to register a case against the above mentioned persons while he was legally bound to do so. Accepting the application for hearing, the court had summoned the SHO and sought his reply.
When the matter came up again before the court on Thursday, Civil Lines SHO Waqar Ahmed Tanoli responded that the PTI moved an application to register a case but failed to submit any data of the deceased people, such as post-mortem reports or place of death.
Tanoli claimed that no one was affected by the heatwave or died from heatstroke within the jurisdiction of Civil Lines police station and pleaded the court dismiss the application.
Meanwhile, public prosecutor Abdul Waheed Ansari, who represented the state, argued that the government could not be held responsible as the deaths were caused due to a natural disaster.
Hearing the arguments, the applicant's attorney, Shaikh Jawaid Mir, replied that the provincial government and the police were trying to adopt the 'ostrich policy' over the deaths and were reluctant to admit the people's suffering.
On the jurisdiction dispute, Mir admitted that people died across the city but since CM House, where all the administrative matters of the province are decided, was located within the remits of the Civil Lines police station so the case should be registered here.
Read: Federal govt, K-Electric directly responsible for heat wave deaths: Memon
The court was pleaded to direct the SHO to set the law in motion by registering a case against the accused.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge reserved the order and is likely to announce his verdict today.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2015.
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