SHC orders face recognition facility installed at police record office

Updated December 06, 2019

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A single bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also asked the director general of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, to ensure that all absconders were brought before courts with the aid of police.  — Wikimedia Commons/File
A single bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also asked the director general of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, to ensure that all absconders were brought before courts with the aid of police. — Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday expressed concerns over lack of face recognition system at the criminal record office (CRO) of police and directed the home secretary, the provincial police officer and the director general of the National Database and Registration Authority to ensure that such facility must be exclusively available at the CRO.

A single bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also asked the director general of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, to ensure that all absconders were brought before courts with the aid of police.

It also called a report from the home secretary that under what capacity Karachi Metropolitan Corporation was managing the closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in the provincial metropolis, which otherwise, exclusively pertained to the home department after it was informed that the KMC was regulating the CCTV cameras.

When the matter about A-class cases, in which the accused persons are unknown or untraceable, came up for hearing before the bench, compliance reports were filed by the in-charge of CRO, other police officers and an officer of law department.

The bench expressed serious concerns over the functioning of the CRO after an official conceded that the police department had no capability to match any face from a video and this mechanism was available with Nadra and such facility was lacking in the CRO system.

It observed that the purpose of keeping record with Nadra was never confined to issuance of CNICs only, but was meant to know the identity of a required person.

Therefore, the IG Sindh, the provincial home secretary and the DG Nadra must ensure that this mechanism was available exclusively with the CRO with complete domain enabling identification of criminals.

The bench also directed the DIG CIA and AIG forensics to accommodate three lawyers, who were assisting the court, and an addition prosecutor general for their visit and explain to them what mechanism was provided with regard to CRO and identification of accused persons with criminal history as well as the method of forensic examination.

It also directed the AIG forensics to file complete details of DNA of criminals available with forensic laboratories.

In the last hearing, the bench observed, “It is time to take Rangers into confidence in the issue. Let the notice be issued to DG Rangers who, hopefully, shall come forward with some mechanism of Pak-Rangers role in identification ... of criminals of heinous crimes”.

Since nobody came before the court to file compliance report, the bench directed a deputy attorney general to again communicate the order in question to the DG Rangers and asked the DG of the paramilitary force to ensure that all absconders were brought before courts with the aid of police.

Two officials of the law department contended that they were ready to publish the rules of Sindh Criminal Court Rules, 2012 framed by the SHC, which were available at the SHC’s website. Therefore, the bench directed the registrar of the SHC to communicate these rules to the law department which will ensure that such gazette was published within due course of time.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2019