A youngster chomps on gutka. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A youngster chomps on gutka. —Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: As the crackdown against sale and manufacturing of gutka and mainpuri across Sindh continues, police have been taking legal action against the sellers and manufacturers of the injurious substances under a “harsh” clause of the Pakistan Penal Code in accordance with a directive of the Sindh High Court.

Officials said that the fresh exercise was being carried out across the province and so far 211 fresh cases had been registered, most of them in Karachi, under Section 337-J (causing hurt by mean of a poison) of the PPC, which contains 10-year imprisonment, instead of Sections 269 or 270 of the PPC which carry the maximum sentence of only two-year imprisonment.

An official said it was a non-bailable offence and, if proved, could lead to 10-year imprisonment.

“Whoever administers to or causes to be taken by, any person, any poison or any stupefying, intoxicating or unwholesome drug, or such other thing with intent to cause hurt to such person, or with intent to commit or to facilitate the commission of an offence, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause hurt may, in addition to the punishment of arsh or daman provided for the kind of hurt caused, be punished, having regard to the nature of the hurt caused, with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years,” the official quoted Section 337-J as defined in the PPC.

He said that of the 211 new cases, which were registered after the fresh SHC order, 85 were registered in different districts of Karachi; 57 in Hyderabad; 65 in Shaheed Benazirabad and four cases were registered in Mirpurkhas under Section 337-J.

Police will file supplementary charge sheets in over 5,000 FIRs lodged under a bailable section of the PPC before the SHC directive

“These 211 cases are those which have been registered recently. Before the SHC directive, the Sindh police have lodged 5,208 FIRs across the province in 2019,” the official said, adding that in all previous cases, Section 337-J would be incorporated to file supplementary charge sheets in court.

The vile concoction is being manufactured in the Ibrahim Hyderi area.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
The vile concoction is being manufactured in the Ibrahim Hyderi area.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

He said before the fresh move, the police used to register the FIRs for sale of gutka and other related products under Sections 269 or 270 of the PPC, which were bailable offences and did not carry harsh punishment.

Section 269 of the PPC talks about a “negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life”.

“Whoever unlawfully or negligently does any act which is, and which he knows or has reason to believe to be, likely to spread the infection of any disease dangerous to life, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both,” the official quoted Section 269 as defined in the PPC.

While directing the police to lodge FIRs under Section 337-J of the PPC, a two-judge bench of the SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar had also directed the inspector general of police to hold an inquiry into the allegations that police were not showing a large part of seized gutka in their record and to call explanation from all SHOs regarding continuity of manufacturing and sale of such harmful items in their jurisdictions.

Published in Dawn, October 13th, 2019