KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday directed the local government secretary to appear in court on October 28 along with viable proposals to handle a breakdown of civic infrastructure in future.

The court was seized with a petition seeking an inquiry into the collapse of Karachi’s civic infrastructure due to recent torrential rains and compensation for affected people.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also asked the additional relief commissioner to produce some working papers before it on the next hearing regarding a roadmap being made to combat such a situation in future by authorities concerned.

When the matter came up for hearing, lawyers for some respondents sought time to file comments and two respondents submitted their replies. The bench again issued notices to the some respondents.

The additional advocate general also requested time to file comments on behalf of provincial authorities, cited as respondents in the petition.

Plea against restriction on intercity transport operations disposed

Additional Relief Commissioner Shakeel Abro informed the bench that a roadmap was being made to battle with the situation caused due to the heavy rains in future.

The petitioners submitted that the unplanned growth of the city and large-scale encroachments particularly on drains, poorly designed roads and drainage system had caused flooding and unparalleled damage in the city and over 40 people lost their lives in rain-related incidents and due to electrocution.

They further submitted that the main entrances of three major hospitals were flooded, main thoroughfares submerged and various emergency telephone numbers went out of order during the rains.

Transporters’ plea deposed of

The same bench disposed of a petition of transporters filed against the restrictions imposed on intercity transport operation during the lockdown after it was informed that the lockdown notification had already been withdrawn subject to implementation of standard operating procedures (SOPs).

The transport secretary and other officials submitted that the owners of all intercity bus operations were required to implement the SOPs without fail.

The petition was filed by the Supreme Council of Pakistan Transporters and its lawyer pointed out during the hearing that various bus terminals had been closed in the city as well as out of the city and the bus owners having valid route permits also filed applications to the provincial transport authority for operating bus terminals at different places.

The secretary confirmed that some applications were pending in his office for orders and he undertook that all such applications would be decided within a period of two weeks and orders in writing communicated to the applicants.

The bench directed him to hear and decide these applications in accordance with the law after providing ample opportunity to the applicants and other stakeholders if any.

Warrant out for arrest of key witness in Intizar murder case

An antiterrorism court issued a warrant for the arrest of a key prosecution witness in a case pertaining to murder of a teenager in a fake encounter in Defence Housing Authority.

Eight Anti-Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) officials, including then SHO Tariq Mehmood, inspectors Azhar Ahsan and Tariq Raheem, head constable Shahid and constables Ghulam Abbas, Fawad Khan, Mohammad Daniyal and Bilal Rasheed have been charged with killing 19-year-old Intizar Ahmed on the night of Jan 13, 2018.

The matter came up before the ATC-XIII judge, who is conducting the trial inside the central prison, for recording testimonies of the key prosecution witness, Madiha Kiyani, and others.

However, Ms Kiyani failed to turn up to testify against the accused persons. The state prosecutor and the investigating officer informed the court that the female witness had not been turning up to record her statement in court despite issuance of repeated notices.

The court was informed that her statement was an important piece of evidence since she was present with the victim in his car when he was shot dead by accused persons.

Taking notice of her absence, the judge issued bailable arrest warrant for Ms Kiyani, directing the IO to ensure her presence in court on the next date to record her statement in the case.

The hearing was adjourned till Oct 8.

All undertrial policemen were indicted on May 15, 2018 for murdering the teenager, who was studying in Malaysia and visiting his family in DHA, Karachi.

Initially, the IO had named eight officials as accused persons in the investigation report. However, later he left out head constable Ghulam Abbas stating that he was not present at the time of the incident.

Published in Dawn, October 1st , 2020