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July 22, 2019

SHC moved for payment of basic pay and allowances to former MPAs


July 22, 2019

MPAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have filed petitions with the Sindh High Court (SHC) seeking payment of basic pay and allowances to former members of the provincial assembly under the Sindh Laws (Amendment) Act 2017.

PTI MPAs Khurrum Sher Zaman and Dr Seema submitted on Saturday in their petitions that the Sindh Laws (Amendment) Act was passed in 2017 and the provincial assembly secretary submitted a summary to the chief minister on September 7, 2017, seeking additional funds amounting to Rs666.22 million for meeting the shortfall in funds for MPAs’ salaries during the financial year 2017-18.

The MPAs submitted that the finance secretary had submitted a note to the CM on October 6, 2017 to approve Rs664.48 million instead of Rs.664.22 million to meet the shortfall in funds for the salaries of the lawmakers but the relevant provision of the law was not implemented yet.

They submitted that the basic pay and allowances of the MPAs had been increased under the Act from Rs72,000 per month to Rs145,000 while the salaries of the CM, the speaker and the ministers had also been doubled.

The PTI lawmakers stated that the actual revenue receipt exceeded the actual expenditure by Rs37,415 million as recorded by the finance department and the Accountant General Sindh but the former MPAs had not received arrears yet.

The SHC was requested to direct the CM to pass an appropriate order on the summary of September 7, 2017 and direct the government to pay the basic pay and allowances of the MPAs who were elected during the 2013-2018 tenure.

Bail pleas rejected

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday rejected bail applications of three suspects in the murder case of former lawmaker Ali Raza Abidi, observing that prima facie the suspects were involved in the offence.

Abidi, a former leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, was gunned down outside his residence in Defence Housing Authority by armed motorcyclists in an apparent targeted attack. Later, the Counter-Terrorism Department arrested four suspects, Abdul Haseeb, Muhammad Ghazali, Muhammad Farooq and Abu Bakr, in connection with the murder.

At the time of the suspects’ arrests, CTD SSP Naveed Ahmed Khawaja had said that at least eight people were involved in the murder and the mastermind of it was still at large. He alleged that a foreign spy agency was behind the killing and through its agents, it had paid Rs800,000 to the hitmen for carrying out the attack.

SSP Khawaja had told the media that the CTD first arrested Farooq and on the basis of information provided by him, three more suspects were arrested. He added that Farooq’s brother Mustafa and three others suspects, Faizan, Hasnain and Bilal, were yet to be apprehended.

The bail applications were moved by Farooq, Ghazali and Abu Bakr through their lawyer. They contended that they were innocent and falsely implicated in the case. They requested the ATC to grant them post-arrest bail, stating that they were ready to face the charges.

The prosecutor opposed the bail plea and argued that the investigators had sufficient incriminating evidence against the suspects. He said that the suspects should not be set free on bail as it could affect the proceedings in case they ran away.

After listening to arguments of both the sides, the ATC-XI judge rejected the bail applications and observed that the prosecution had evidence against them and prima facie they were involved in the murder.

The FIR of the incident was registered under sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 read with the Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 on the complaint of the deceased’s father, Akhlaq Abidi, at the Gizri police station.

Explanation sought

A judicial magistrate on Saturday issued a show-cause notice to the SHO of the Peerabad police station over a protest of transgender persons against the police, the video of which went viral on social media.

District West Judicial Magistrate XVIII Asif Ali Abbasi wrote to the SHO: “You were called thrice at 9:00am, 11:00am and 12:30 pm [in the court on Saturday], but you remained absent without any intimation. Therefore, you are hereby called upon to furnish your written reply in person along with the aggrieved transgenders within three days.”

The court had summoned a report from the police officer after a video of a protest by some transgender persons at the Peerabad police station went viral.

The judge observed that the transgender persons seemed aggrieved and protested against the alleged unfair attitude of the police.

Irked by his absence, the magistrate told the SHO to explain why he should not be prosecuted under relevant penal laws and why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for his negligence. The police officer was told that in case of his failure to submit an explanation, the court would presume that he had nothing to say in his defence.

A copy of the notice was also sent to the Sindh IG, West Zone DIG and West Zone SSP.