Govt inaction to fix quantum of punishment for selling gutka, mainpuri irks SHC

Updated 06 Oct 2019

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The Sindh High Court has directed police to launch a crackdown to curb the menace of gutka and mainpuri in the province and also incorporate a provision of the Pakistan Penal Code for causing hurt by means of a poison in the FIRs until new legislation is put in place. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
The Sindh High Court has directed police to launch a crackdown to curb the menace of gutka and mainpuri in the province and also incorporate a provision of the Pakistan Penal Code for causing hurt by means of a poison in the FIRs until new legislation is put in place. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed police to launch a crackdown to curb the menace of gutka and mainpuri in the province and also incorporate a provision of the Pakistan Penal Code for causing hurt by means of a poison in the FIRs until new legislation is put in place.

The SHC also deplored that directives were issued to provincial authorities time and again in many petitions to make legislation to fix quantum of punishment about manufacture and sale of such hazardous items, but despite the lapse of a considerable period, the compliance had so far not been made in letter and spirit.

In a detailed order issued on Saturday in a petition against use of mainpuri and gutka, a two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar said that as per the provincial law secretary, the proposed draft had been approved by the provincial cabinet and it would be placed before the provincial assembly on Oct 5 and sought further time for compliance.

A representative of police submitted that a DIG had issued a letter in April to insert Section 336-B (causes hurt on any part of body other than head and face) of the PPC in the FIRs pertaining to manufacture and sale of mainpuri, gutka and mawa, but he could not satisfy the court that any FIR was lodged under this provision, it said.

Conversely, the deputy prosecutor general argued that Section 337-J (causing hurt by means of a poison) of the PPC was applicable in these cases, it added.

In a detailed order, the SHC asks IGP to take action against policemen involved in the illegal business

“It may well be added that one of the purposes of fixing ‘quantum of punishment’, is always that of creating a sense of fear/deterrence. This has been the reason because of which legislation was asked for but prima facie such directions, despite lapse of considerable period, have only been shown to have been processed,” the court order said.

It further stated that if the gravity of an issue required immediate legislation then the duty of legislatures become double in timely legislation, avoiding any unnecessary delay.

The bench observed that administration of justice also demanded more from the law enforcement agency and courts and directed the inspector general of police to ask all the SHOs, through their SSPs, that Section 337-J of the PPC would be inserted in all the FIRs until new legislation was made.

It also said that this order be circulated to all the judicial magistrates to examine application of relevant provisions of the PPC even in the pending cases and added that application of proper section of offence was not limited to the stage of a case.

The court also issued a directive to take action against those police officials involved in this illegal business.

Earlier, the SHC had ruled that the existing laws with regard to the punishment for manufacturing and selling gutka and mainpuri should be enhanced as culprits involved in such crimes were being booked under the British-era laws and set free after imposing minor penalties.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2019