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March 8, 2019

ATC summons police’s forensic laboratory head in fake arms licences case

Karachi

March 8, 2019

While hearing on Thursday a case about alleged bogus arms licenses, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) summoned the head of the Sindh police’s Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and sought a report on whether the sale and purchase of weapons was being made in compliance with the law.

The ATC-XVI judge also directed the police chief and the home secretary to ensure and check the implementation of the Sindh Arms Act with the arms dealers, asking the government officials to send their representatives along with a report to the court on the next hearing on March 16.

The prosecution has maintained in the case that the police busted a crime syndicate of government employees and arms dealers who created fake licenses to sell weapons and ammunition to street criminals, target killers and terrorist organisations.

The case investigation stems from the arrests of two people, Adnan Khan Niazi and Saeed Nawaz, on a tip-off on January 1, who were allegedly found in possession of arms licenses, CNICs and ammunition.

The two men led the investigators to their suspected accomplice, Wasay Jalbani, who is the incharge of the arms branch at the Deputy Commissioner Office, South and seized licences from his possession. Later, the suspects reportedly named 18 other people who were involved with them in their operations.

The ATC order came in light of the prosecutor’s scrutiny note on the police papers in which he pointed out loopholes in the investigation, contending that neither were the weapons issued on those licenses recovered nor could their suspected use in crimes be verified through FSL.

The prosecutor added that the investigation officer did not investigate the matter in accordance with the Sindh Arms Act and failed to verify the licences and collect the their record from the districts, which could have served as evidence in support of the prosecution’s allegation that such weapons were used in crimes.

Due to such failures in the investigation, the prosecutor recommended further investigations in the case before it was put on trial.

The judge, in his order, cited the Section 4-A of the Sindh Arms Act which is about obtaining ballistic signature of the weapons through empties at the time of their sale, purchase and repair and informing the same to the FSL for record keeping. He inquired whether the due procedure was being followed in the arms business.

The judge observed that the police report was silent on this matter and no investigation had been made in this regard. To the accused arms dealers’ claim that they did not know about the law, he said it was a well-known principle that ignorance of law was no excuse.

He also pointed out that the commissioner Karachi had on February 1 constituted a committee to conduct an inquiry into the business of fake arms licenses. The committee was supposed to complete its report within 15 days but it had still not been submitted to the court.

“It seems that glaring violation of section 4-A has been made by arms dealers but no action whatsoever has been taken by the executive authorities,” the judge observed. “Courts can only act upon evidence and material presented before them. [And] Courts cannot be blamed if the executive/ police fail in their duty.”

“Government has to ensure that cogent evidence to support prosecution is collected and presented in the court. And courts are supposed to keep a watchful eye over the executive as to ensure their performance to meet the standard i.e. no offence go unchecked and no criminal unpunished,” the judge said.

While summoning the SSP heading the FSL in person, the judge also directed the IGP and the home secretary to ensure that the required investigations in the case were carried out as per the scrutiny note of the prosecutor. He also sought the findings of the commissioner’s committee on record.

“If it is found that deliberate violation of the section 4-A has been committed by arms dealers then their licences may be questioned and cancelled thereafter as per law,” the judge stated.

Eight suspects in the case are in jail in judicial custody, six have obtained bail while 18 are absconding. The FIR of the case was registered under sections 420, 468, 471, 474, 109 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with sections 7 and 21(I) of the Anti-Terrorism Act at the AVCC/CIA police station.

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