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KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the additional secretaries of the provincial law and finance departments to appear on Aug 28 to make their submissions on a plea against non-implementation of the Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2015.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Abdul Rasool Memon, passed this direction on a petition seeking establishment of consumer courts at the district level in the province for implementation of the law.

Muhammad Tariq Mansoor, a practising lawyer, who filed the petition in person, submitted that the provincial assembly had passed the law in 2015 to protect and promote the rights of citizens and to redress consumer complaints at the earliest.

Grants bail to detained director of the KDA charged with illegal conversion of amenity plots to commercial ones

However, he said that despite a lapse of over two years neither consumer courts nor a consumer protection council had been established by the government, which was a violation of the law and the constitution.

The petitioner submitted that setting up a council as well as courts in every district of the province was mandatory under the law, but the government made no efforts in that regard.

The government has deprived the citizens of their rights by not establishing the consumer protection council and consumer courts, he said, adding that this was a violation of the constitutional provisions that enshrine the rights of every citizen.

Mr Mansoor argued that the province’s population, as per the census, was about 47.8 million but none of them had any means for protection of their due rights as consumers.

He pleaded to the court to direct the provincial government to establish a provincial consumer protection council and consumer courts at the district level across the province and also notify the rules for regulating the functioning of such a council and courts.

Setting a price of Re1 per day, the petitioner also sought compensation of around Rs42 billion for a total of 896 days that a population of 47.8m remained deprived of consumer courts.

Taking up the matter recently, the SHC bench directed the additional secretaries of the provincial law and finance departments to appear on the next date and make their respective submissions with regard to the implementation of the Sindh Consumer Protection Act, 2015.

The hearing was fixed for Aug 28.

KDA director gets bail

The Sindh High Court has granted bail to the detained director of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) charged with alleged illegal conversion of the status of amenity plots to commercial ones.

Syed Obaid Ahmed had moved a petition through his counsel, who submitted that the petitioner being a BPS-19 officer was working as a director in the KDA.

He further submitted that national accountability bureau officials arrested him during a raid on his office on Nov 2, 2017.

The counsel mentioned that the federal anti-graft watchdog filed a corruption reference against his client and others in the accountability court concerned on Feb 26, 2018.

He said the NAB investigation revealed that the petitioner being then director and looking after the affairs of charged parking and bachat bazaars was found involved in misusing his official authority and renting out the amenity plots for commercial activities against the KDA rules.

The counsel submitted that his client had never given a no-objection certificate (NOC) for temporary use of the KDA land to any of his relatives as he did not have such authority, but NAB “falsely” accused him of issuing such certificates.

In March, accountability court-IV had indicted former KDA chief Syed Nasir Abbas and former director Syed Obaid Ahmed in the case for allegedly approving amenity plots for illegal use by converting the status of such public welfare spaces to commercial land, causing a loss of over Rs350 million to the national exchequer.

The counsel argued that during the trial no prosecution witness was able to establish the charge against the detained director.

He further argued that there were 18 prosecution witnesses in the case and only two of them had been examined by the trial court so far.

The counsel argued that the Supreme Court had already observed that the dictum of the bail could not be withheld as punishment even in the cases of non-bailable offences, adding that the apex court had further observed in various cases that Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 day to day trial and its cohesion within 30 days was less likely to be achieved in many cases and this should not constitute a bar for grant of bail to the accused.

Therefore, he pleaded for grant of bail to the petitioner, arguing that his case was on better footing than that of the main accused, Syed Nasir Abbas.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro, after hearing arguments from both sides, granted post-arrest bail to the petitioner subject to furnishing a surety bond in the sum of Rs1 million with two sureties.

The petition was disposed of.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2018