Agency for dealing with child kidnapping, assault cases formed, SHC told

Published April 15, 2021
Federal authorities on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court that the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Agency (ZARRA) for missing and abducted children had been established. — Wikimedia Commons/File
Federal authorities on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court that the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Agency (ZARRA) for missing and abducted children had been established. — Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: Federal authorities on Wednesday informed the Sindh High Court that the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Agency (ZARRA) for missing and abducted children had been established.

When a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar took up a petition seeking establishment of ZARRA, implementation of the act and formation of rules, an assistant attorney general along with the officials of ministries of human rights and inter-provincial coordination were in attendance.

They submitted that the federal government had established ZARRA as provided under the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act 2020 and also produced the copy of a notification issued in this regard on March 19.

While taking the notification on record and providing its copy to the lawyer for the petitioner, the bench adjourned the hearing for a date to be later fixed by its office.

Centre has set up the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Agency in March

On the last hearing, the ministry of human rights had submitted that it had forwarded a summary to the federal cabinet on Feb 16 for setting up ZARRA and as per statutory requirement rules would be framed after the formation of the agency.

It further maintained that the ministry was also preparing standard operating procedures for smooth functioning of ZARRA and the post of its director general had been advertised.

Petitioner Naeem Sadiq submitted that despite the lapse of around a year after the enactment of the law, the federal government had failed to enforce the Zainab alert act as the agency had not been set up so far to deal with child kidnapping and criminal assault cases while rules had also not been framed yet.

The abduction, rape and murder of nine-year-old Zainab by a serial killer in Kasur in 2018 led to the enactment of the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Act, 2020.

Health secretary issued show-cause notice

Another SHC division bench issued a show-cause notice to the provincial health secretary for not filing a compliance report regarding maintenance of government-run hospitals in the city, upgrading their operation theatres and purchase of equipment for such medical facilities.

The bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha observed that on the last hearing, the health secretary had sought two-month time to comply with the court’s earlier order, but on Wednesday neither anyone was in attendance on his behalf nor any compliance report had been filed.

While issuing a show-cause notice, the bench directed the secretary to appear in person on May 25 along with his reply as well as the complete compliance report.

It also came down hard on the investigating officer for showing no progress report to trace out a child who went missing from the OPD of the Civil Hospital Karachi in 2018.

On March 5, the health secretary submitted that the compliance of bench’s earlier order had been made to some extent and sought two months for complete compliance of its order.

Earlier, the SHC had directed the provincial authorities to release funds to install equipment and facilities at the Civil Hospital Karachi in order to rectify the deficiencies highlighted in a judicial inquiry conducted by a district judge on the directive of SHC issued in October 2018.

Petitioner Saba moved the SHC in 2018 stating that she took her three-year-old son to the CHK for a check-up, but he went missing when she was busy in obtaining a token in the OPD.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2021

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