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December 6, 2019

Police have no capability to match suspects’ faces with CCTV footage, SHC told

Karachi

December 6, 2019

The police department has no capability to match the face of any suspect with CCTV footage, and unlike a mechanism available with the National Database Registration Authority, the police criminal record office lacks any such arrangement, the focal person of the criminal record office (CRO) told the Sindh High Court.

The disclosure came during the hearing of an application with regard to the failure of the police to arrest of the culprits in pending criminal cases.

A single bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, observed that the lack of this capability in the police department is very strange and rather raises a serious question mark on the system.

The court observed that the purpose of such a system is meant for identification of suspects and if there is no provision for face recognition in the CRO, how a criminal can be detected. It further observed that in the absence of such a facility the entire system becomes nothing but a “sort of garbage”.

The court stated that the purpose of keeping record with Nadra was not confined to issuing CNICs to citizens but it was meant to know the identity of a required person on a single click.

It further observed that free movement of criminals needed to be curtailed when it had brought the very peace of the society under serious threat and every possible measure needed to be taken.

The bench said there was a mountainous number of high-profile cases and directed the Sindh IGP, the home secretary and the Nadra DG to ensure that the mechanism for face recognition was to be available with the CRO of the police department with complete domain enabling them to identify the culprits by use of or access to any modern device.

It said that the CIA DIG and the AIG forensic would accommodate the court amicus and other law officer for their visit and would explain with demonstration what mechanism had been provided with regard to the CRO and the identification of persons with criminal history as well as the method for forensic examination.

The court directed the AIG forensic to submit complete details of DNAs of criminals available with forensic laboratories.

Regarding the installation and monitoring of close-circuit television cameras in Karachi, the court directed the home secretary to explain the status of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, which, it said, was regulating the cameras and supervising them with the aid of the police.

It asked as under what capacity the KMC is managing these affairs, which prima facie pertains to the home department exclusively. The court told the IGP to submit a specific compliance report with regard to CCTV cameras and their monitoring.

It took exception to the failure of the home and finance departments to comply with directives to submit a report on the allocation of funds to the police. It told the home and finance secretaries to submit a report and release funds of at least the last three years to the Sindh police so that the report may be called from relevant quarter.

Regarding the publication of the Sindh Criminal Courts Rules 2012 framed by the SHC, the assistant law officer of the law department submitted that the department was ready to publish the rules. It directed the registrar of the court to communicate these rules to the law department for further proceedings and the law department would ensure that such a gazette was published within due course of time.

The court also took notice of the failure of the Rangers to comply with its directives and issued a notice to the deputy attorney general to submit a compliance report of the Rangers ensuring that all criminals who were yet absconders were brought before the court with the aid of the police.

It had observed that the DG Rangers would come forward with some mechanism of the Rangers role in identification of at least arrested criminals involved in heinous crimes. The court has been informed by the police that as many as 29,668 cases of crimes of heinous nature relating to murder, dacoity, kidnapping for ransom were pending in the province during the last 10 years without the arrest of the culprits.

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