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September 24, 2020

Sindh govt criticised for ‘lackadaisical’ attitude towards public safety body

Karachi

September 24, 2020

Expressing concerns over an inordinate delay in the convening of the mandatory monthly meetings of the Provincial Public Safety & Police Complaints Commission, its members claimed on Wednesday that the non-serious and lackadaisical approach of the Sindh government towards the body has been causing the body to be ineffective.

These concerns were raised during a news conference addressed by three of the commission’s members: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Mohammad Ali Aziz and civil society activists Karamat Ali and Nazim Haji. Grand Democratic Alliance MPA Hasnain Mirza could not show up due to his busy schedule.

The members said that according to the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act 1861 and Revival of Police Order 2002) (Amendment) Act 2019, the commission is supposed to meet in the first week of every month, while in case of an emergency, a meeting can be convened at short notice, not exceeding 24 hours.

“Unfortunately, the commission hasn’t met once in the past two months, which is a clear violation of Section 83 of the Police Act [that deals with meetings and conduct of business],” said Ali. The commission’s last meeting scheduled for August 21 was also postponed without a valid reason, he lamented.

The members also complained that the office of the commission has not been set up yet while the expenses are being incurred on a regular basis. They said that under the law, district commissions have to be set up in every district, but they have not been formed yet.

On September 15, the commission’s above-mentioned four members had written to Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to requisition a meeting in accordance with Subsection 2 of Section 83 that allows a meeting to be convened by the chairperson or on the requisition of three members.

Referring to Subsection 4, which bounds the commission to meet as and when required, for which at least a week’s notice with agenda should be given, and to meet at least once a month, Ali said: “Despite a requisition for convening a meeting submitted on September 15, we haven’t heard from the government yet.”

The members said that all the complaints are dealt with on an ad hoc basis, and that the irrelevant and extra persons hijack the commission’s meetings.

They said the commission had unanimously approved its rules of procedure in July and sent it to the government for approval. They also said the annual policing plan that was due in September had not been provided to them yet. The Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act 1861 and Revival of Police Order 2002) (Amendment) Act 2019 was passed by the provincial assembly on May 18 last year, but the governor had returned the bill without his assent.

The PA reconsidered the bill a month later on June 13 and passed it again with amendments, and sent it to the governor for him to accord his assent. Section 73 of the Act reads that the commission would be set up for police oversight and public complaint redressal with 12 members and an ex officio chairperson.

Section 74 states that half of the members would be nominated by the PA speaker from among the lawmakers — four from the treasury and two from the opposition — in consultation with the house leader and the opposition leader, provided that at least two of the members are women.

The other half comprising independent members would be appointed by the government on the recommendation of the selection panel, provided that at least two of the members are women.

According to Section 75, the home minister would be the chairperson of the commission, while Section 83 states that the police chief and heads of prosecution service, prison and probation departments would attend the meetings as non-voting members when invited, as any expert may be invited for consultations on specific issues.