SHC orders verification of all prisoners through biometric system

Published November 27, 2020
The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the police and jail authorities to ensure identification of every prisoner through biometric verification. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the police and jail authorities to ensure identification of every prisoner through biometric verification. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the police and jail authorities to ensure identification of every prisoner through biometric verification after the court was informed that a new verification system had been installed in all 22 detention facilities of the province.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar also asked the Sindh police to provide the computerised national identity card of prisoners or a copy of the criminal record office (CRO) at the time of handing them over to prison authorities as required under the relevant rules.

The bench disposed of a petition filed in 2013 against replacement of prisoners with their namesakes in prisons after the provincial and jail authorities filed compliance reports following several orders issued by the bench.

They said that CRO systems for verification of prisoners by their fingerprints through National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) had already been developed and deployed with all essential peripherals at each prison in Sindh.

The bench observed that some effective measures were taken to develop and deploy a system so that there must be no doubt in future with regard to identity of any prisoner and they should go through biometric system for his/her identification integrated with Nadra verification system.

The IG prisons, Qazi Nazir, pointed out rule 401 of Sindh Prisons and Corrections Service Rules, 2019 (Sindh Prisons and Correctional Manual) wherein it has been provided as a mandatory requirement that the in-charge police escort while handing over the custody to the prison authority will produce CNIC of the prisoners or copy of the CRO record.

Disposes of plea after being told that biometric system has been installed in all 22 jails

However, he submitted that though the rule was in the field since 2019, there was some lacking in the implementation and sought direction for police to ensure compliance with it.

DSP Raza Mian present on behalf of AIGP (legal) undertook that the rule in question will be fully implemented by all police officials across the province in letter and spirit.

Assistant advocate general Shehriyar Maher also pointed out that a letter had been issued on Nov 25, by the home department to the inspector general of police with reference to this petition to provide a copy of CNIC of the prisoner/CRO at the time of first entry of the prisoner in every prison of the province so as to avert any impersonation.

“It appears that the home department has already communicated the request of the IG prison now, this matter is for only its effective implementation in future. The petition is disposed of accordingly”, the bench added.

It directed the provincial police officer and IG prisons to ensure the identification of every prisoner through biometric verification at every detention facility of Sindh.

A non-governmental organisation had approached the SHC in 2013 and contended that certain convicted prisoners with the connivance of jail authorities had replaced themselves with their namesakes in prisons by paying them hefty amounts of cash.

MQM moves SHC against reappointment of officers

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan on Thursday petitioned the SHC against reappointment and promotion of officials who entered into a plea bargain with National Accountability Bureau in graft cases.

MQM leader Kanwar Naveed Jameel said the petition was filed against the provincial government for reappointing and promoting around 500 officials after they entered into plea bargain with NAB.

He maintained that the Supreme Court had issued directions for removal of such officials from service, but the provincial authorities were not only posting them in different departments, but also promoting such officials.

He said the order of the apex court be implemented in letter and spirit and such officials be immediately removed from service.

The MQM leader claimed that people were being appointed in government departments on urban quota after preparing their fake domiciles.

Plea against posting in JPMC

Another division of the SHC has issued notices to the federal and the provincial health authorities and management of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre on a petition against appointments and postings being made by the provincial authorities in the public health facility.

The bench headed by Justice Nadeem Akhtar directed the federal ministry of national health services, provincial secretary of health, executive director of JPMC and other respondents to file comments and fixed the matter for hearing after four weeks.

Dr Nazish Butt and eight other medical officers of JPMC moved the SHC and contended that the Supreme Court had passed an order in January 2019 to hand back the administrative control of the JPMC to the federal government, but the apex court order has yet to be complied with.

The petitioners argued that on recommendations of the management of JPMC, the provincial health authorities were transferring medical officers from different hospitals of provincial government to the JPMC which they contended was illegal.

They sought direction for the respondents to comply with the apex court order regarding administrative control of one of the major public health facilities of the city, to only appoint federal government civil servants in JPMC as medical officers and declare the transfer/posting of medical officers made by the provincial authorities as illegal and unlawful.

The petitioners also asked the SHC to direct the respondents to consider their promotion cases.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2020

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