KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the police to submit the investigation report before the court concerned within the stipulated period in an incident of rape of inmates of a Darul Aman and all offenders be sent for trial.

A single-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also expressed concerns over the safety of women residing in Darul Amans and directed the deputy inspector general of police (Special Security Unit) to depute women police constables round the clock in the four Darul Amans of Sindh and ensure the safety of the inmates.

It also ordered the provincial home department to ensure that at least one women’s police station was established in every district of the province and all the posts be filled within three months in accordance with the recruitment rules.

The bench further directed the home secretary to submit SNEs (sanctioned new establishments) regarding women police stations within a month for approval and told the secretary of the finance department to provide required assistance. The court said that the approval of SNEs be made within 15 days.

It told the women department’s secretary to ensure that CCTV cameras were installed inside all the Darul Amans and the assistant inspector general of police (AIGP-Legal) to put in place this facility in front of the Darul Amans and safe houses for women to ensure the safety of the inmates.

Court calls for establishment of women’s police stations in all districts

On the last hearing, the bench had ordered the registration of an FIR against an official of the Sukkur Darul Aman after it was informed that during a judicial inquiry conducted by the district judge a senior clerk was found involved in the rape of inmates. It had further directed the investigating officer to examine the acts and omissions of the then director of social welfare, Sukkur, and the then secretary of the social welfare department in that regard and prosecute them if abetment was constituted.

At the outset of the hearing, a compliance report was filed on behalf of the DIG and SSP of Sukkur while the AIGP-Legal also informed the bench that a case had been registered regarding rape offences.

The investigating officer of the case contended that he would conduct investigation without being influenced by any pressure.

The bench directed the AIGP-Legal to supervise the investigation and the investigation report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code be submitted before the magistrate concerned for further proceedings within the stipulated period and all offenders having a role in this serious crime be sent for trial.

While referring to its previous order about women police stations, the bench confronted the home secretary about compliance. He contended that women police stations were yet notified by the department though they had established some women police stations in different districts without SNEs and a notification.

He assured the bench that all SNEs, as well as the proposal, would be submitted for final approval with the consultation of the finance department regarding women’s police stations.

The bench warned that it was the second undertaking and if the home secretary again failed to comply with, it would bring legal consequences. It also directed the finance secretary to extend all cooperation about SNEs.

The bench observed that not only the Constitution but our religion provided great respect and honour to females and undeniable protection was to be provided to them, hence the home department must ensure that in every district at least one women police station was set up.

It deplored that there were only four Darul Amans, one of them operating under the control of the private sector, in the whole province and said that the secretary of the women development department was required to provide protection to the three government-run Darul Amans at Sukkur, Larkana and Hyderabad as the incident of rape with inmates showed complete malfeasance and misfeasance of officials.

At this juncture the secretary for the women development department contended that they had removed all male staff from the Darul Amans except the gatekeepers and maintained that two more Darul Amans were under construction in Jacobabad and Mirpurkhas.

However, the bench observed that in view of the population there should be a Darul Aman in every district and added that the inmates should also be provided vocational training in order to enable them to achieve financial independence.

It directed the women development department secretary to provide every possible assistance for surprise visits to Darul Amans by a team of two amici curiae, deputy prosecutor general and assistant prosecutor general.

The bench also called reports from the district and sessions judges concerned regarding the functioning of the safe houses for women as was earlier ordered.

Besides, it also sought a compliance report about it on one of the previous orders for establishing borstal schools/centres for girls who are victims of forced marriages or intended to continue their study but due to traditions of their families could not do so.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2021

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