KARACHI: The Supreme Court has observed that a number of instances clearly reflect “mala fide conduct of the Government of Sindh in dealing with the poor law and order situation in Sindh, particularly in Karachi, which if continued, will never bring peace and rest” to the province.
The court also took exception to a decision by the provincial government nine years ago to release on parole 35 prisoners who were under trial on charges of committing “heinous offences”.
It called for issuance of non-bailable warrants for arrest of the 35 absconders.
The observations were made in an order on the Karachi suo motu implementation proceedings of Nov 1 by a five-member larger bench comprising Justices Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Khilji Arif Hussain, Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Amir Hani Muslim and Gulzar Ahmed. The order was released for the press on Saturday afternoon from the SC’s Karachi registry.
The bench in its order directed the police and other law-enforcement agencies to look into complaints regarding “influx of Taliban into the city of Karachi” and “take all possible measures to meet any challenge, which may be faced by the citizens of Karachi due to such illegal immigration of foreigners and Taliban, who are reportedly armed with sophisticated weapons”.
The complaint was received by the larger bench during one of the hearings and it was later handed over to the provincial chief law officer. Later the police submitted a report, which was made part of the record.
The bench observed that the police report on targeted killings showed that the situation had further deteriorated over the past 18 months or so.
“The report reveals that killing of innocent people for one reason or the other is a rapidly increasing phenomenon which needs to be tackled with an iron hand,” the bench remarked.
The SC bench noted that no “high-up” was serious about building up the police institution. “The police department has a lot of shortcomings, but no one amongst the senior officers seems to have shown concern.”
The bench observed that recruitment in police department was not transparent and since service record of police officials was not properly documented, a key yardstick for evaluating the performance was missing.
“From the date of passing of the order dated 13-9-2011 till date no steps towards capacity building in police department have been undertaken,” the court stated.
The bench further observed that out-of-turn promotions politicised the police department and induction from other departments “through lateral entries has brought unrest amongst deserving police officials waiting for their promotion on merit”.
The bench remarked that transfers and posting in the department also lacked merit. The complete service record of a police official which could reflect posting and transfer is not maintained. Many police officers posted within Karachi on senior positions lack both qualification and competence, it said.
“It seems that instead of depoliticising the police force, further damage has been caused by the government by inducting their blue-eyed persons through lateral entry and then granting them retrospective seniority and out-of-turn promotions”.
Release of parole
The larger bench expressed its surprise and dismay over the release of 35 under-trial prisoners on parole in 2003 “by the government of Sindh in a shabby manner”. It observed that no action was taken against the released prisoners.
“We are clear in our mind that the government or any other authority under it cannot exercise powers under any provision of law parallel to the powers conferred on the judicial officers. Thirty-five under-trial prisoners apparently were not granted bail and were involved in heinous offence and once they were refused bail the government under the garb of parole extended such concessions in order to defeat the judicial process of administration of justice,” the bench remarked.
It went on to observe: “In any event on one hand hue and cry is made by the government about the law and order situation on the pretext of terrorism and, on the other, the government is releasing convicts and under-trial prisoners who have purportedly committed heinous crime, including acts of terrorism. These instances clearly reflect mala fide conduct of the Government of Sindh in dealing with the poor law and order situation in Sindh, particularly at Karachi, which, if continues, will never bring peace and rest in Karachi/Sindh.”
The bench directed the home secretary and other provincial officials to submit a statement “to justify such, prima-facie, illegal and high-handed action of the government” in releasing convicts and UTPs on parole.
The larger bench also directed the trial court to issue non-bailable warrants for the arrest of the absconding 35 paroled UTPs.
The IG was ordered to ensure the arrest of the paroled UTPs.