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September 18, 2020

Counsel told to argue on maintainability of petitions against PPP ministers

Karachi

September 18, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the counsel to argue on the maintainability of petitions seeking the formation of a joint investigation team to probe a police high-ranking officer’s allegations against the ruling party’s MPAs and provincial ministers Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh and Saeed Ghani of harbouring robbers and criminals in Shikarpur and Mehmoodabad areas and their disqualification as member of the parliament.

Petitioners Ahsan Ahmed and Syed Iqbal Kazmi submitted in their petitions that former Shikarpur SSP Dr Rizwan Ahmed had sent a report to the Sindh police chief on the connection of Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh, his family members and employees to robbers and criminals and that the report had accused them of harbouring the criminals involved in heinous crimes in their areas.

They alleged that the lawmaker of the Pakistan Peoples Party was using “his criminal wings against the political opponents and to create fear”. They said the former SSP during his posting in the Jamshed Town area had also sent a report to high-ups alleging that Saeed Ghani and his brother Farhan Ghani had links with criminals and drug smugglers of the area. The court was requested to constitute a JIT to probe the allegation and disqualify them from the parliament.

The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, said Article 225 of the constitution stated that no election to the house or a provincial assembly shall be called into question except by an election petition presented to such tribunal and in such manner as may be determined by the act of the parliament.

The court observed that the bar contained in Article 225 was not absolute and may be displaced under Article 199 (1) (b) (ii) and/or Article 184 (3). The court observed that the apex court in recent pronouncements had held that the fact about disqualification of a member of a house must be based on affirmative evidence and not upon presumptions, inferences and surmises and that interference may only be contemplated in the presence of admitted facts and/or irrefutable direct evidence available on record to justify disqualification.

The court observed that it had been maintained by the apex court that the settlement of factual issues was discouraged in the exercise of constitutional jurisdiction and that the court may not take such task upon itself.

The court observed that it would be appropriate to frame the preliminary question for the determination as if the present petitions could be maintained or entertained in view of the bar contained in Article 225 of the constitution and the directed counsel to argue on such point on October 14.

Meanwhile, the Sindh advocate general has filed a statement along with an inquiry report filed by the DIG Sukkur which was constituted to verify the authenticity of the police officer’s secret report that accused Imtiaz Sheikh of harbouring robbers and criminals in Shikarpur.

The Sindh police chief had ordered the constitution of the inquiry committee to probe the authenticity of the former SSP Shikarpur’s secret report on the alleged nexus of

the provincial minister with criminals and their patronage.

The report stated that the former SSP Shikarpur had not registered any criminal case against Imtiaz Sheikh and his brother Maqbool Ahmed Shiekh for abetting criminals if such evidence were available with them.

The report stated that there was no evidence to support that the former SSP Shikarpur carried out any special full-fledged operation in Shikarpur’s Chingi Muqam to eradicate hardened criminals from that areas although he had more than 3,000 police personnel at his disposal as well as vacate properties from the possession of the MPA. The report also denied allegations of the former SSP with regard to the role of the PPP minister in appointments of police personnel and officers in the area.