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SHC orders constitution of effective police team to end disappearances

January 20, 2022
SHC orders constitution of effective police team to end disappearances

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday took exception to the submission of routine progress reports in the missing persons cases, and directed the provincial government to constitute an enforced disappearance task force having officers not below the rank of DSP for the recovery of missing persons.

Hearing petitions against enforced disappearance of citizens from different parts of the city, a division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro observed that it seemed that senior police officers from all over Karachi submitted routine reports with same statements, and nothing could be found about the missing persons.

The high court observed that the appearance of senior police officers with routine reports was not helpful in any way. The bench remarked that if a high-level task force was constituted and made active, the police officers deputed there would properly and exclusively focus on this work and appear before the court to submit reports.

In another case, the SHC directed the investigation officer to excise powers properly under the Code of Criminal Procedure and try to find out the whereabouts of missing persons so that their families could be satisfied.

Regarding compensation to the families of the missing persons, the high court proposed that the families shall submit details about the earning of missing persons, if any, at the time they went missing along with the house hold expenditure being incurred by the families so that details could be verified and proper order shall be passed by awarding compensation to the families.

The SHC also directed the Sindh inspector general of police to submit a report with regard to the missing children within two weeks. The high court was informed that efforts were being taken to recover 12 missing children.

The bench observed that the 12 children were still missing, and directed the police to take all measures to recover them as soon as possible. The petitioner, Roshni Helpline Trust, had approached the high court for directives to the police that the missing children’s cases be considered as a cognisable offence and investigations for them be initiated without any delay.

A counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the whereabouts of 12 children were still unknown, and requested the high court to direct the police to recover them. The petitioner said the cases of the missing children were not properly investigated and as a result many such children had lost their lives.

The petitioner also claimed that it had collected data regarding the missing children, which showed that around 5,000 to 6,000 children went missing every year, but due to deliberate negligence on the part of the police, many children could not be traced and were left at the mercy of the kidnappers.

LG staff’s service record

The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the chief and local government secretaries to prepare a list of all local government employees, including the Sindh council unified grade officers, and submit a report after scruitinising their service record.

The direction came during a hearing of a petition of Iqbal Ahmed seeking the enforcement of a Supreme Court judgment and the removal of government officers who were appointed on posts meant for council unified grade officers.

The petitioner’s counsel, Zulfiqar Ali Domki, submitted that the provincial government had appointed government officers and employees on posts meant for Sindh council unified grade officers and employees, and the appointments were therefore illegal and a violation of the principles of natural justice, equity and fairness.

He said the employees of the local council were not transferable and the impugned orders had been issued at the whims and wishes of the official respondents. He further claimed that the respondents were exercising authority “colourfully and without any jurisdiction”, and that they had paralysed the entire system of the local government department, including financially and administratively, by conducting themselves in this manner.

The counsel argued that the impugned posting orders were also in violation of judgments of superior courts and seriously undermined the principle of good governance, saying that such an act did not help in maintaining discipline and it also affected the entire working of the local government department.

He said the orders were a clear example of a violation of the law and principles of rules of law, and they were “the worst kind of favouritism”. The provincial law officer opposed the petition on the grounds that there was deputation working illegally in councils; besides, there was no concept of non-Sindh Council unified grade officers.

A division bench comprising Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar and Justice Adnanul Karim Memon observed that the petitioner had alleged violations of various court orders in the appointments of the local government department by way of deputation or by transfer.

The court directed the chief secretary and the secretary of local governments to prepare a complete list of the employees of local governments, including Sindh council unified grade officers, their original designation with the date of the initial appointment, the date of the promotion, and the induction of outsiders in the SCUG service by transfer and or deputation if any, and to submit a report after scrutinising their record within three weeks.

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