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AG given last chance to begin arguments on petition seeking unveiling of JITs’ reports


May 17, 2018

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing of a petition seeking the unveiling of the joint investigation teams’ reports compiled after probes into the activities of Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch, former chairman of Fishermen Cooperative Society Dr Nisar Morai and the 2012 Baldia factory fire.

On the request of the Sindh government’s counsel, the court gave a last chance to the provincial law officer, who sought adjournment on the ground that the advocate general Sindh shall argue in the case, observing that in case the AG does not appear on the next date of hearing, the law officer available shall argue the petition.

The court then adjourned the hearing till June 4. PTI leader Syed Ali Haider Zaidi had submitted in the petition filed last year that startling disclosures were made in the JIT reports regarding the involvement of politicians in crimes such as killings and extortion. Concerned authorities were approached to obtain copies of the reports and for making them public, but to no avail, the PTI official stated.

Uzair Baloch, tried by a military court under charges of espionage for Iranian intelligence agencies, had confessed his association with Pakistan Peoples Partys central leadership, including its women’s wing leader Faryal Talpur, said Zaidi.

He added that Baloch admitted paying extortion amounts received from different departments to Faryal and also confessed to killing several people on the directives of the political party’s leadership as well as facilitating them in having private lands and properties vacated by threatening property owners.

Invoking Article 19-A of the Constitution, the PTI leader asserted that the provincial and federal governments’ failure to publish such JIT reports is a violation of the citizens’ right to information.

Zaidi further maintained that the content of JIT reports is of public importance as it relates to crimes that have wide-reaching implications on the public.

Further making the case for disclosure of the reports, he observed that print and electronic media, through various sources, have reported on the JITs obtaining evidence suggesting involvement of various politicians in the crimes. “It is imperative that such persons are held accountable for their actions,” said the PTI leader.

As long as the JIT reports are kept secret, the public will be left at the behest of these politicians who continue to silently exercise the influence they hold over them, whereas investigations launched against them [politicians] will go nowhere, he argued.

Zaidi added that disclosure of the reports was important as there were allegations against state machinery being utilised to commit and cover-up the crimes. “People have the right to know if public resources were used for such activities. The very purpose of constituting these JITs, i.e. to uncover the truth of these crimes, stands defeated if the reports are kept secret.”

Zaidi maintained that the JIT reports are required to be made public under provisions of the Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Act, 2011.

Families of those who fell victim to the Lyari gang-war, whose loved ones perished in the Baldia factory fire and other crimes, deserve justice; they should know who were the perpetrators of those crimes, he added. The court was requested to publish and provide official copies of the reports prepared by the JITs in the cases.

The home department had, however, opposed the petition and submitted that unveiling joint investigation teams’ reports of Lyari gangster Uzair Baloch and other criminals might jeopardise the court proceedings.

The home department’s secretary has stated that only the report of a criminal case is a public document and added that the recordings of JIT may at times not be substantiated by other valid investigative measures or reports or statement and therefore making them public might jeopardise the court proceedings and adversely affect the state endeavour to prosecute and get the criminals convicted by the court of law.

He said that the Baldia factory fire case was also pending before the trial court and a charge sheet has been submitted before the trial court and information other than that does not carry the status of prosecution case. He requested the court to dismiss the petition as being baseless and against the norms of justice.

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