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September 20, 2019

Sindh forms criminal justice coordination committees


September 20, 2019

In order to review and improve the criminal justice system, the Sindh Home Department has notified the forming of criminal justice coordination committees in every district of the province in accordance with the provisions of the newly enacted police law, it emerged on Thursday.

A notification issued in this regard by the home department reads: “In pursuance of the provisions contained in Chapter XI (Section 109 to 111) of the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002) (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Sindh Act No. XI of 2019), a criminal justice coordination committee is hereby constituted in every district of Sindh with immediate effect.”

The district & sessions judge in each of the districts will be the chairperson of their respective criminal justice coordination committees, whose other members will be the deputy commissioner posted in the district, the senior superintendent of police, the district public prosecutor, the district superintendent of jail, the district probation officer, the head of police investigation, the president of district bar association, the district social welfare officer, the district women development officer, the district health officer and the secretary of district public safety & police complaints’ commission.

The head of police investigation will also act as the secretary of each committee. The notification issued by the home secretary said that the committee will keep under review the operation of the criminal justice system and work towards the improvement of the system as a whole.

The committee will work to promote understanding, cooperation and coordination in the administration of the criminal justice system. It will formulate coordinated priorities and plans to give effect to locally agreed policies.

It will raise relevant issues with the appropriate authorities. It will promote the spread of good practices and review the implementation of any decision taken by the criminal justice coordination committee. The meeting of the criminal justice coordination committee will be held at least once a month.

Posting of SHOs

The home department has also written to the Sindh police chief asking him to ensure that every police station in the province is headed by a police officer not below the rank of inspector in pursuance of the new police law.

The correspondence in this regard sent by the additional home secretary (internal security) to the inspector general of police carries the subject: “Posting of inspectors (BS-16) as station house officers as required under Section 21(4) of the Police Act (Sindh Act No. XI of 2019)”.

The letter reads: “Reforms in the province’s police organisation is one of the most important components of the revamping of the criminal justice system. This has not only been on the national agenda in the shape of the National Action Plan but the same has also remained on the priority list of the Government of Sindh.

“While many steps in this direction have already been taken by the government, such as creating or strengthening the CTD, creating specialised units (SPU, SSU, RRF, etc), raising the budget of investigation, establishing specialised training schools, creating IT cadre, digitising criminal records, increasing the strength of police personnel, ensuring representation of women in police, raising incentives for the personnel and raising the overall budget of the Sindh Police, much more still needs to be done as envisioned by the government.

“Recent milestones are the Rule of Law Roadmap as well as the new Police Law (Sindh Act No. XI of 2019) for Sindh, which were developed and finalised after the tedious process of deliberations and discussions.”

The letter further states: “Police station is the most fundamental legal and administrative unit having interface with the common police. It is the basic service delivery unit the citizens are legally entitled to have access to, so revamping, reinventing, strengthening and modernising police stations is, therefore, desperately needed for effective and efficient service delivery.

“Section 21(4) of the Police Act (Sindh Act No. XI of 2019) declares it mandatory to post an inspector as the head of a police station, provided that the officer of the rank of assistant superintendent of police may be posted as the head of a police station assisted by inspectors as officers incharge in selected police stations.

“The current law, in field since June 26, 2019, therefore, makes it obligatory that no police station will be headed by an officer below the rank of inspector (BS-16). I am, therefore, directed to request you to kindly issue orders to your subordinate field officers to comply with the above provisions of law in letter and spirit under intimation to his department.

“If there arises any issue, the home department is ready to facilitate. It is believed that police stations headed by senior officers, i.e. posted on merit, will go a long way in service delivery that the people of Sindh deserve the most for.”