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Tuesday May 17, 2022

Replicas of JITs won’t help recover missing persons: SHC

January 28, 2022
Replicas of JITs won’t help recover missing persons: SHC

A police task force will be formed in accordance with the suggestions of the Sindh High Court (SHC) for recovering missing persons, and its notification will be supplanted with a new notification after determining the necessary details, the provincial advocate general assured the court.

The SHC was hearing identical petitions seeking missing persons’ recovery. In a previous hearing the court had taken exception to the submission of routine progress reports in missing persons’ cases, and directed the provincial government to constitute an enforced disappearance task force with officers not below the rank of DSP to recover missing persons.

The additional advocate general produced a notification regarding the forming of a task force. However, an SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro expressed dissatisfaction over it, saying that the task force formed in terms of the notification is nothing but a replica of a joint investigation team (JIT), and it won’t serve the purpose.

The bench said the provincial law officer has been directed to hold discussions with the government to investigate missing persons’ cases by the police, independent of other law enforcement agencies, and find out the whereabouts of the missing persons exclusively in terms of the mandate under the Criminal Procedure Code.

The court said that such a task force has to work like an independent cell, and be answerable to the DIG concerned and ultimately to the Sindh police chief, and that the officials of the force have to be exclusively tasked with finding missing persons without any other assignment.

The bench said the task force to be formed in terms of the notification produced has to hold only routine monthly meetings and submit reports in court. The SHC said that earlier JITs and the provincial task force are already working, so in the presence of those, there is no need to order forming an exclusive task force for these cases.

The Sindh AG assured the court that a task force will be formed in accordance with the SHC’s suggestions, and the notification issued on January 25 will be supplanted with a new notification after determining the necessary details. The bench directed the AG to do the needful and submit a compliance report by February 15.

In other cases, the court directed the government to release the salaries of missing head constable and schoolteacher. The SHC had proposed that families submit details about the victims’ income at the time they went missing, along with the household expenditures being incurred by the families, so the details could be verified for a proper order to be issued to compensate them.

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