Wednesday November 30, 2022

Centre gives two-month extension to Rangers with full powers

December 23, 2015

Interior Ministry rejects summary of Sindh govt; says Centre spending Rs9 bn annually on Rangers in Karachi

ISLAMABAD: The Interior Ministry on Tuesday gave a free hand to the Sindh Rangers in Karachi to continue their policing job under the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 without having been influenced by the Sindh Assembly resolution or provincial government’s executive order.

In its letter issued to the provincial government on Tuesday evening following high-level consultations, the Interior Ministry conveyed to the Sindh government that the powers conferred to the Rangers under the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 could not be abridged, customised or made conditional.

Following the Dr Asim-linked controversy, the Sindh government had recently curtailed the Rangers’ powers and restricted them to operate only against target killers, sectarian killings, extortions and kidnappings for ransom. The Sindh government had clipped the Rangers’ powers relating to terrorism and terror financing besides stopping the agency from arresting any political figure or raiding any provincial office without the permission of the chief minister.

A few days back, the provincial government had forwarded its notification regarding the slashing of Rangers’ powers to the Interior Ministry, which on Tuesday formally responded on the matter. In its response, the federal government rejected all these conditions set by the provincial government in its summary and immediately revived all past powers of the Rangers. In its letter, the Interior Ministry told the Sindh government that its action was not within the ambit of the law and Constitution.

The provincial government was told that powers conferred to the Rangers under Section 4 of ATA 1997 cannot be abridged, customised or made conditional. The Sindh government was also told that the law does not allow any authority to separate or distinguish the powers given to any law enforcing agency under the ATA unless the law is amended.

The ATA 1997 is a federal law, thus it cannot be amended by the provincial government or the assembly. The provincial government was also told that an assembly resolution or provincial government’s notification could not limit the operation of a federal law.

The interior ministry, however, notified the extension of the Rangers authority under ATA 1997 for 60 days as per the law and the Constitution.

Section 4 of the ATA 1997 reads: “4. Calling in of armed forces and civil armed forces in aid of civil powers.- 1) It shall be lawful for the federal government to order, and subject to sub-section (2) for the provincial government to secure the presence of armed forces and civil armed forces in any area for the prevention and punishment of terrorist acts and scheduled offences in accordance with the provisions of this Act. 2) If, in the opinion of the provincial government, the presence of armed forces, or civil armed forces is necessary in order to prevent the commission of terrorist acts or scheduled offences in any area, it may request the federal government to direct the presence or posting of units or personnel of the armed forces, or civil armed forces, in such numbers as may be deemed necessary for the prevention or control of terrorist acts or scheduled offences. 3) The federal government may decide whether the requirements of the situation call for the deployment of i. The civil armed forces; or ii. The armed forces, and so deciding shall, by means of a notification in the official gazette issued under clause (i) or (ii) authorise and direct the posting there of.”

Shakeel Anjum adds: The Interior Ministry spokesman has said that the federal government is spending Rs9 billion annually on the Rangers operating in Karachi.

He said the interior minister never said that the federal government will give Rs9 billion to the Sindh government. He said that details of expenses will be published in newspapers today (Wednesday).

The spokesman said that those having objections against any decisions of the Ministry of Interior could go to a court of law.