LAHORE: Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar asked the Punjab chief secretary on Sunday to remove hurdles put in place around the residence of Hamza Shahbaz and clear the passage for public.

Hearing a suo motu notice over the closure of roads in the name of security, the CJP observed that if the lawmaker of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) felt that his life was in danger, he should relocate to some secure place of his liking.

“I am the Chief Justice of Pakistan, but I don’t need barricades to protect me and no such hurdles have been placed outside my residence,” he told the chief secretary.

The chief justice was apparently dismayed when Chief Secretary Capt (retd) Zahid Saeed claimed before the three-member bench that the gate installed to block the road had been removed in compliance with a court order, but the barricades were still in place.

The CJP admonished the chief secretary for not obeying the court’s order and sought explanation for not opening the roads.

The chief secretary said the zigzag barricades had been placed outside Hamza Shahbaz’s residence because he had been receiving life threats.

“Who is he? I don’t know him. If he feels threatened, he should relocate to a place of his choice,” said the CJP while asking the chief secretary to clear all the roads leading to Mr Hamza’s residence.

72-hour deadline given to Punjab police for arrest of culprits in Zainab case

The chief justice also directed the chief secretary to stop policemen from roaming around the residence of the PML-N lawmaker as they disturb the privacy of inhabitants of the area.

“I will pay a surprise visit to the area in a private car to ensure the enforcement of court’s order,” said the CJP.

Later in the evening, the Lahore police removed the iron barriers from around the residence of Hamza Shahbaz in Judicial Colony near Thokar Niaz Baig. However, concrete barriers were not removed from outside his house till late evening.

SC dissatisfied with Kasur probe Separately, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court set a 72-hour deadline for the Punjab police to arrest the culprit(s) involved in the Kasur rape case.

“[Further] delay in tracing down the murderer of minor girl will not be tolerated. Police have to come up with some conclusion swiftly,” Chief Justice Nisar warned senior police officers after holding an in-camera and open court hearing of the suo motu case along with Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

“We represent the nation as well. We are fully aware of public sentiments and concerned over the tragic incident,” the CJP observed.

At the outset of the hearing, Regional Police Officer of Multan Mohammad Idrees, who is also the head of a joint investigation team, submitted a progress report admitting before the bench that the police had been unable to track down the killer(s).

The RPO told the court that the DNA tests of 800 suspects had been conducted but no headway could be made in the case.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the progress in the investigation, Justice Manzoor observed that the police were pursuing a one-track investigation and must widen the scope of the probe beyond simply using DNA test to track down the culprits. “The DNA tests of 21 million people will have to be conducted if the investigations continue this way,” said Justice Malik while observing that the police had narrowed down the investigation to DNA test.

The investigators should use other methods as well to probe the case from different angles. The police could probe the case in multiple traditional ways, he added.

Justice Malik asked the head of the joint investigation team to work on minor aspects of the case as all such incidents took place in the evening.

Multan RPO Idrees had earlier told the bench that investigators had been probing the case from all angles. Additional Inspector-General of Punjab Police Abubakar Khuda Bakhsh said over 1,000 suspects had been interrogated and DNA tests of around 800 people were carried out but their results did not match with the culprit’s.

Punjab Forensic Science Agency Director General Dr Ashraf Tahir informed the court that the footage of the [suspected] killer recorded by four different cameras had been collected but the quality of the footage was inferior.

The CJP observed that it would be a failure of both the government and the police if the perpetrator was not brought to book. The entire nation was grieved over the killing of the minor girl, he observed directing the police to ensure that the culprit responsible for her death were arrested.

“An unspeakable crime has been committed against an innocent girl,” CJP Nisar said and ordered the IGP to arrest the culprit within 72 hours.

Dr Tahir, however, expressed willingness to share some information about the case which he couldn’t tell in the courtroom, prompting the bench to conduct an in-camera hearing.

The chief justice summoned the police officer and others to his chamber for further hearing of the case. Later, a short order was issued, directing all the stakeholders to do the needful in 72 hours.

Appearing before the court, the head of children’s hospital said that the lone survivor of the rape incidents, Kainat, was under treatment at the hospital but she was unable to speak or travel as she was suffering from brain injury.

The CJP asked him whether or not the girl required treatment aboard. The doctor replied that it would be decided after the report of her MRI test.

The parents of the eight girls who had been raped and murdered in Kasur since 2015 also appeared before the Supreme Court bench and pleaded for justice.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2018

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