KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed its monitoring wing, comprising teams identified as “members of inspection team” (MIT), to file a consolidated statement of rape cases pending in courts across the province till Jan 31.
A two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar issued the directive during hearing of a petition filed by Kainat Soomro and two other rape victims seeking implementation of the Supreme Court’s guidelines in rape cases and establishment of rape crisis cells at the district level.
At the outset of the hearing, the prosecutor general of Sindh contended that the police stations had already contacted the civil society organisations mentioned in the court order, adding that arrangements for DNA test was available at the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences (LUMHS) in Jamshoro and they had also inked a memorandum of understanding with the Karachi University for setting up a laboratory on the campus.
Order issued on plea to make rape cases’ investigation effective and DNA tests and preservation of DNA evidence mandatory
While putting off the matter till Jan 31, the bench directed the MIT-II to file a consolidated statement of pending rape cases in the province for further directions at the next hearing.
The petitioners were seeking implementation of a Supreme Court judgment (PLD 2013/107) about making investigation process of rape and assault cases effective and also sought directives for provincial government to make DNA tests and preservation of DNA evidence mandatory in rape cases.
They maintained that the SC had directed the provincial government and other authorities to reform the investigation process of rape cases, but the directions of the apex court were not being complied with, adding that rape victims were unable to get justice due to faulty process of investigation.
While impleading the Sindh health secretary, provincial police chief and others as respondents, the petitioners pleaded to direct them to take immediate steps to improve the investigation system and establish rape crisis cell in each district of the province to help victims in acquiring immediate medical, financial and legal assistance.
They also asserted that the Supreme Court’s guidelines for police investigation officers, medico-legal officers, trial courts should be implemented in letter and spirit.
Treatment of fistula patients
The same bench on Tuesday directed the health secretary to file a compliance report about arrangements made at government hospitals to treat fistula patients.
In compliance with an earlier order of the bench on a petition about fistula repair, health secretary Usman Chachar submitted that a requisition of appointment of nine gynaecologists especially dedicated to Tharparkar was sent to the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) and it recommended only one candidate. The recommendations of SPSC on remaining posts were still awaited.
He further said that another requisition for appointment of 62 gynaecologists as well as to appoint 429 doctors had also been sent to SPSC, adding that he personally contacted the chairman of the SPSC to expedite the process.
The heath secretary submitted that a request had been made to the finance secretary for an amount of Rs5.880 million for maternal, neonatal and child health.
He contended that the facility to treat fistula patients was available at Chandka Medical College Hospital in Larkana, Peoples Medical College Hospital in Shaheed Benazirabad and the Liaquat University of Medical Sciences Hospital in Jamshoro and sought one month’s time to make the facility available at Ghulam Mohammad Mahar Medical College Sukkur.
In Karachi, the facility is available at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the Koohi Goth Medical Hospital, a charitable hospital being operated by the main petitioner, he added.
The secretary said that his technical team would examine the reported cases of fistula repair in Karachi in consultation with the petitioners and after a proper evaluation further arrangements in different government hospitals at Karachi would be made.
The petitioners, including gynaecologist Dr Shershah Syed, contended that around 5,000 women died during pregnancy every year in the province due to lack of healthcare facilities in the rural areas.
They further submitted that there was a shortage of medical facilities as well as trained staff to attend to the patients, adding that the government had launched the maternal and newborn child health programme many years ago, but the funds allocated for the programme were never utilised.
The petitioners contended that there were over 1,500 fistula patients in the province, whereas a majority of government hospitals do not provide fistula repair surgeries.
They pleaded that the authorities concerned were directed to ensure access to affordable treatment of obstetric fistula to all women in the province and said that the provincial government should ensure that at least one qualified gynaecologist in every district was trained and equipped to provide fistula repair surgery.
Grant approved for treatment of girl
The bench was informed on Tuesday that the provincial government had approved an amount of Rs2,900,000 for a bone marrow transplant of an eight-year-old girl of Dadu.
The chief justice of SHC had taken notice about the illness of Rahat Batool since her parents could not afford her treatment.
In a previous hearing, the division bench headed by Justice Mazhar had directed the provincial government to provide funds for the treatment of the girl.
On Monday an official said that a summary was approved and the cheque would be handed over to the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) in three weeks.
He also said that the girl was admitted to the NIBD and the treatment had been started. The bench directed to hand over the cheque to the NIBD within a week.
An official of the health department on Tuesday sought time from the two-judge SHC bench to file a progress report about thalassaemia centres.
Mohammad Muzaffar and others moved the SHC seeking establishment of thalassaemia centres in Thatta and Sujawal districts.
The health official contended that they had already been making efforts to set up such centres and added that he would file a progress report at the next hearing as to how many thalassaemia centres were under operation with the cooperation of the Sindh government. The matter was adjourned till Feb 19.
Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019