The Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing a suo motu case on the grisly rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab in Kasur.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar, noted that the entire nation is grieving the death of the minor, whose body was found in a trash heap on January 11.
Punjab Additional Inspector General (AIG) Abubakar Khuda Buksh appeared before the court and told the bench that Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz could not be present today as he was busy.
"The person behind Zainab's murder is a serial killer," the chief justice observed during the hearing.
He noted that a gap between the judiciary and the police must be bridged so that mistakes that have been made by the latter in such cases can be avoided.
"The police does not take guidance from the court's decisions. The same mistakes are made in all such cases," he said.
"We are trying to close the gap between the courts and the police. Why shouldn't there be communication between the courts and the police?" Chief Justice Nisar added.
The chief justice said that the court requires assurance that the culprit responsible for Zainab's death will be arrested.
"I want the criminal to be captured, not killed in an encounter," the chief justice added.
He said that if the matter is not resolved, it will be the failure of the police and the government.
The chief justice told the AIG that the hearing could be moved into the chambers if he did not want to reveal aspects of the investigation in the courtroom.
The AIG said a time for the arrest of the rapist and murderer could not be provided at the moment. So far, 1,100 suspects have been interrogated and DNA tests of 400 people have been conducted, he informed the court.
During the hearing, the apex court halted the proceedings of the Lahore High Court that had also taken up the Zainab case, saying the high court did not have the jurisdiction to hear suo motu cases.
The apex bench adjourned the Zainab case until Sunday, summoning the entire investigation team probing the minor's death at the next hearing which will be conducted at the SC Lahore Registry.
Zainab goes missing, is found
Zainab went missing on January 4 while heading towards a relative's home. Her bruised body was found a few days later in a dump in the city.
The news shocked the entire country with #JusticeforZainab becoming the rallying cry while violent protests broke out in Kasur.
The six-year-old's autopsy had confirmed that she was strangled to death. It suggested that she had been raped before being killed.
At least four agencies — the Counter Terrorism Department, the Intelligence Bureau, the Special Branch and the Punjab Forensic Science Agency — have been seized with the case and each agency has arrested suspects separately while investigating the matter.
However, no major headway has been made in the case since Zainab's body was found.