HYDERABAD: Sindh’s three accountability courts have been without presiding officers for several weeks due to which cases in which the Supreme Court and Sindh High Court have passed directives for disposal are hitting delays.

The cases pending trials in the three courts pertain to corruption references filed under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 against government officers.

The accountability courts in Hyderabad and Sukkur are without their presiding officers since May and in Karachi since April.

High Court Bar Association’s acting president Farhad Ali Abro told Dawn on Sunday that undertrial prisoners (UTPs) were not being produced in these courts which, according to him, was a violation of their fundamental right. He said prisoners were unable to meet their relatives or visitors on account of social distancing effected to control Covid-19 spread. Such meetings in courts were also not possible as UTPs were not being taken to courts, he added.

The cases relating to land scam of the Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA), Defence Housing Authority (DHA) areas off Karachi-Hyderabad Motorway as well as those relating to recruitment through the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC) are pending trials in Hyderabad’s accountability court.

Another lawyer, Ishrat Ali Lohar, pointed out that superior courts had already issued directives to the Hyderabad accountability courts for speedy disposal of certain cases, almost 80pc, but proceedings were not being held for want of presiding officers.It is learnt that the Sindh High Court registrar has sent a communication to the federal law ministry earlier this month drawing its attention to the vacant positions. He has also sent a couple of letters to the ministry but is yet to get any response.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2020