People belonging to Kutchi community and residents of Lyari are protesting against the law and order situation in Lyari, during a demonstration at Supreme Court Registry in Karachi.—Photo by PPI
KARACHI: The Supreme Court was informed on Wednesday that certain federal and provincial functionaries, in addition to land grabbers, had illegally occupied the state land in Karachi and its outskirts.
A senior revenue official, Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah, stated before a three-judge bench of the SC that various federal and provincial institutions, including the Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim Authority, Defence Housing Authority and Malir Development Authority, had illegally occupied a big chunk of the 10,515 acres illegally in Karachi.
The SC bench headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali was seized with the proceedings of implementation of the court’s judgement in the Karachi killing suo motu case. The other members of the bench were Justices Khilji Arif Hussain and Amir Hani Muslim.
The board of revenue official informed the court that 83 of the 93 Dehs in the city were surveyed physically and topographically. He, however, said the process of allotting survey numbers would be completed soon.
The judges expressed displeasure over the failure of the authorities in recompiling and rewriting the revenue record burnt in violence after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Justice Khilji remarked that the land grabbing and illegal occupation of revenue land was one of the major factors behind the worsening law and order situation in the city.
The revenue department official said the land record of 870 Dehs in 11 districts of the province was burnt during the riots after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He said the record of 695 Dehs had been reconstructed, while the record of the remaining Dehs would be restored in a short span of time.
Justice Jamali came down heavily on the revenue department officials and remarked that they had made no progress though they were given more than sufficient time.
Syed Zulifqar Ali Shah, a BoR member, said that 83 of the 93 Dehs in Karachi had been surveyed physically and topographically. However, he added that allotting of survey numbers would be completed soon.
Sindh advocate general Khalid Javed requested the court to give the officials six more months to complete reconstruction of the revenue record.
The bench, however, directed the authorities to complete the task within four months. It also ordered them to verify the already rewritten record that bore grave irregularities and discrepancies.
The court also took note of the absence of the senior BoR member and was irked when the chief provincial law officer informed it that the official was seriously ill with a kidney problem. “The officer who is seriously sick has been made senior member of the board of revenue,” one of the judges remarked.
The court directed the provincial authorities to appoint a healthy official as senior member of BoR to settle the land matters.
Inspector general of police, Sindh, Shahid Nadeem Baloch informed the court that 48 pickets had been established in parts of Lyari.
He said police had conducted over 50 raids in the crime-infested vicinity and efforts were being made to bring normality to the violence-hit areas.
He assured the court that protection would be provided to the Kutchhi community if they returned to their homes.
“When you are not capable of controlling an area, how will you maintain law and order in the whole city?” Justice Khilji remarked.
The advocate general submitted that the unrest in Lyari was caused by some criminal groups operating there. He said it was embarrassing for the provincial government that people were migrating from one area to another.
Justice Hani asked the IG if there was any accountability in the police department. He further inquired from the IG if he had taken any action against police officers for their inefficiency and negligence.
The court voiced its annoyance with the IG for not taking action against the SSP-South in a case of escape of under-trial prisoners from lock-ups.
Justice Hani said the SSP did not even bother to visit the lock-ups after the incident and the police officer was responsible for the escape of prisoners as it was his responsibility to secure the lock-ups to prevent such incidents.
The bench also expressed concern over the standard of handcuffs and observed that the handcuffs were so substandard that prisoners could easily remove them.
The IG informed the court that handcuffs were imported from China and assured it that they would be replaced with better ones soon.
The court directed the Sindh chief secretary to implement the court orders on out-of-turn promotion, absorption and deputation in letter and spirit.
The bench said it was receiving an application regarding the non-compliance of the apex court’s order and warned that the beneficiaries of out-of-turn promotion and the relevant authorities would face contempt proceedings if they did not complied with the court’s order fully.
The chief secretary assured the court of compliance of court orders and submitted that most of the officers had already been repatriated. However, he added that authorities were facing resistance in the repatriation of some officers.
Justice Hani directed the chief secretary to place before court the names of all such officers who were defying court orders. “No one is above the law and action will be taken against those who willfully defy court orders,” he said.
The hearing was put off till Monday subject to the availability of the bench at the Karachi registry of the apex court.