SHC recommends action against judge for ‘exceeding his authority’

Published March 3, 2019
The sessions judge has allowed a hydrant sealed by KWSB to reopen.— Reuters/File
The sessions judge has allowed a hydrant sealed by KWSB to reopen.— Reuters/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has set aside the order of a sessions court through which it allowed a sealed hydrant in Malir to function, and recommended departmental proceedings against the judge for exceeding his authority, it emerged on Saturday.

A single bench of the SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar observed that apparently the sessions judge despite having knowledge of the Supreme Court’s orders on the subject had exceeded his authority.

It directed the SHC registrar to place this order before the competent authority for departmental proceedings against the sessions judge concerned.

The bench passed the order on an application of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) against an order of Additional District and Sessions Judge (Malir) Shafi Mohammad Pirzada for allowing a private water purification services firm to operate after the KWSB sealed its premises.

The sessions judge had allowed a hydrant sealed by KWSB to reopen

The KWSB submitted that they with the help of police and revenue officials had sealed an illegal hydrant/RO plant in Malir in accordance with the apex court’s orders. However, the firm moved the sessions court against the KWSB action and stated that they were using and purifying subsoil water.

In October 2018, the sessions judge had allowed the application and issued directions to unseal the premises, adding that the KWSB was at liberty to take action against the applicant after preparation of a uniform policy of using subsoil water or running RO plant as per the direction of the Supreme Court.

The sessions judge in his order said that the apex court twice asked the KWSB to prepare a uniform policy regarding utilisation of subsoil water, but KWSB failed to comply with it.

The sessions court further observed that police had ‘malafidely’ acted or exercised the powers of locking the premises of the applicant while using the name of the KWSB.

Referring to the two orders the apex court handed down in 2015 and 2017, the KWSB submitted before the SHC that the sessions judge was not competent to pass such an order.

The SHC observed that the sessions judge was well aware about the orders of the apex court while the KWSB had also categorically owned the action taken in pursuance of the apex court’s orders while police just acted in aid.

The bench further said that the sessions court passed the order under Section 22-A of the Criminal Procedure Code, which could only be exercised for issuing appropriate directions to police.

“Further, I shall also add here that the honourable apex court had first demanded an immediate action and then had directed to frame a policy. It is worth to mention that in pursuance of order of the apex court, even district and sessions judges were required to help out the relevant departments with regard to the illegal hydrants and RO plants,” Justice Panhwar observed.

Although the respondent claimed that they were extracting subsoil water which could not be termed as an illegal hydrant, he observed that without making any comment on the legality of such issue, the sessions judge was never competent to examine the legality or illegality of this issue while acting as an ex-officio justice of peace.

Moreover, the sessions judge passed an order which was likely to operate as a declaration as he allowed use and sale of subsoil water without any cover of licence or regulations, the SHC bench ruled.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2019

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