KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday put the provincial chief secretary on notice for June 23 on a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against him for not making public the joint investigation team (JIT) reports of the Baldia factory fire incident, the alleged Lyari gangster Uzair Jan Baloch and former chairman of the Fishermen Cooperative Society Nisar Morai.
In January, the SHC had directed the chief secretary to make these JIT reports public on a petition filed in 2017 by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Syed Ali Zaidi, now a federal minister.
The PTI leader through his lawyer had filed a petition before the SHC and asked the court to initiate contempt proceedings against the chief secretary for not complying with the Jan 28 judgement of the SHC.
The lawyer for the petitioner argued that neither the provincial government made the JIT reports public nor filed any appeal against the SHC judgement before the Supreme Court.
He further contended that now the time period to challenge the judgement in question before the apex court had also expired.
The two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Iqbal Kalhoro issued the notice to the chief secretary with the direction to file his comments by June 23.
The top bureaucrat was directed to make JIT reports public on a petition filed in 2017 by Ali Zaidi, now a federal minister
In its Jan 28 judgement, the SHC division bench, also headed by Justice Kalhoro, had observed that it had not found anything in the JIT reports contrary to national security and if those reports were publicised, no prejudice would be caused to either party at trial.
“If such like incidents, which are barbaric in nature, happen and the public is deprived of access to the information qua the outcome of its investigations conducted by the JITs in regard to such incidents, it would mean that the democratic government is not interested in telling the people truth about those who are involved, which will result in weakening of the whole system,” the bench had ruled.
It also observed that it was not only the right of the families affected by these incidents, but every common man had the right to know the findings of the JIT reports exposing the actual wrongdoers.
The PTI leader had petitioned the high court in 2017 and submitted that these JIT reports had made startling disclosures about the involvement of politicians in crimes such as murder and extortion, adding that the relevant authorities were approached to obtain copies of the JIT reports of the Baldia factory fire incident, alleged crimes of Lyari gang leader Uzair Baloch and former FCS chairman Nisar Morai and to make them public, but to no avail.
Referring to Article 19-A of the Constitution, the PTI leader had contended in the petition that the provincial and federal governments’ failure to publish such JIT reports was also a violation of the citizens’ right to information, adding that the Sindh Transparency and Right to Information Law, 2011 had been passed by the provincial assembly which allowed every citizen the right to information.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2020