Provincial authorities told to file report on proposed DNA law

Updated 21 Sep 2020

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A single-judge bench of SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also directed the inspector general of police to provide a complete list of absconders/proclaimed offenders to the home department. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
A single-judge bench of SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also directed the inspector general of police to provide a complete list of absconders/proclaimed offenders to the home department. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has sought reports from the provincial authorities about the status of a proposed draft of DNA law as well as from the criminal justice coordination committees on the aspects of crime prevention and identification of criminals.

A single-judge bench of SHC headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also directed the inspector general of police to provide a complete list of absconders/proclaimed offenders to the home department so that it would ensure publication of the names of the fugitives in newspapers within a month.

Stressing upon the need of forensic sciences to improve criminal justice system, the bench also called a detailed report regarding a memorandum of understanding signed in January between the Sindh police and the Center for Digital Forensic Sciences and Technology, University of Karachi, to strengthen scientific and research cooperation.

The bench also directed the provincial secretary of the universities and boards to file a report till the next hearing with regard to the establishment of digital forensic colleges/institutions and courses being offered by universities of the province.

SHC asks police chief to provide complete list of absconders to home dept for publication

At the outset of the hearing, the amicus curiae submitted a copy of proposed DNA law and focal person of police’s legal branch filed a detailed report along with mechanism for improving criminal justice system and undertook that names of all proclaimed offenders would be flashed at least in three Sindhi, Urdu and English language newspapers.

However, the focal person said the publication was the domain of the home department and such a compliance report had been called from it, which was awaited.

The bench observed that the basic objective of the criminal justice system was not limited to get punishment for criminals, but the prime object was to prevent crimes which required adopting all measures first for preventing crimes and then to get the culprits punished from a court of law.

It further said that the use of modern devices including CCTV cameras and DNA testing were the greatest examples set by the world for preventing crimes as well reaching to the criminals and the importance of DNA in criminal cases was also affirmed by the apex court.

“The draft of DNA law shall be sent to the Law Department, Government of Sindh through Secretary Law for perusal with further direction to submit report whether any legislation is expected in this issue,” it added.

The bench also expressed resentment over the delay in the publication of the list of absconders and proclaimed offenders for want of approval by the home department and directed to publish it in 30 days.

The focal person of legal branch of police in his report stated that many provision were available in the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002 (Amendment) Act, 2019 for improving the criminal justice system.

The report further said that the criminal justice coordination committees were also established at district level under this act and such committees were headed by the district and sessions judges while deputy commissioners, SSP, district prosecutor, district superintendent jail, district probation officer, district parole officer, district investigation head, president of district bar association, district social welfare officer, district women development officer, district health officer, secretary district public safety and police complaint commission were the members.

The functions of such committees to keep under review the operation of the criminal justice system and work towards the improvement of the system as a whole by promoting coordination, exchange information, formulate coordinated priorities and plans, it added.

The bench observed that since the crime prevention and criminals’ identification had specifically been included among the branches of criminal justice system, therefore the criminal justice coordination committees would also include such aspects during their meetings and come up with suggestions to cover these issues on a priority basis.

Adjourning the hearing till Nov 2, the bench called reports from every district and sessions judge/chairman criminal justice coordination committee all over the province on these aspects.

Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2020