Sindh’s 30 ATCs disposed of 2,210 cases in 19 months

Published September 20, 2021
Over 30 special antiterrorism courts functioning in the province have disposed of 2,210 cases during the last 19 months. — Reuters/File
Over 30 special antiterrorism courts functioning in the province have disposed of 2,210 cases during the last 19 months. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: Over 30 special antiterrorism courts (ATCs) functioning in the province have disposed of 2,210 cases during the last 19 months, it emerged on Sunday.

Official statistics obtained by Dawn suggested that the ATCs acquitted accused in 1,868 cases and convicted those facing trials in 348 cases.

The figures suggested that the overall acquittal rate remained as high as 84 per cent, while the conviction rate stood at 16pc during 2020 and first seven months of the current year i.e. from January 1 till July 31, 2021.

The data showed that 24 ATCs, functioning in 11 districts including Karachi, had decided a total of 2,210 cases — 750 in 2020 and 1,460 in the seven-month of 2021.

About 19pc of terrorism-related cases in Karachi end up in conviction

Around 1,553 new cases were instituted in the ATCs during the 19-month period and there was a backlog of 3,804 cases pending trial till July 30, 2021.

81.4pc acquittal rate in Karachi

Around 46pc of the total cases related to heinous crimes were registered in Karachi and decided by the ATCs functioning in the judicial complex inside the heavily guarded Karachi central prison.

Eleven ATCs functioning in the metropolis had decided a total of 1,618 cases during the 19-month period (517 in 2020 and 1,101 from January 1 till July 31, 2021).

Last year, 17 ATCs had decided a total of 1,101 cases, acquitting accused in 874 cases and convicting those in 227 cases.

In the first seven months of the current year, the 12 functioning ATCs decided 517 cases, acquitting the accused in 444 cases and convicting those in 73 cases. The 19-month performance showed an overall acquittal rate of 81.4pc and conviction rate as low as 19pc.

During 2020, three ATCS were lying vacant in Karachi for want of appointment of presiding officers. This number jumped to eight in the current year.

Zero conviction in Hyderabad, Naushehro Feroze

Two ATCs functioning in district Hyderabad decided a total of 33 cases in seven months of the current year, acquitting the accused in all cases. The conviction rate stood at “zero per cent”.

Comparatively, both the courts had decided 45 cases in 2020 (14 acquitted and four convicted). The third ATC is lying vacant for the last two years.

In district Naushehro Feroze, the ATC decided a total of 32 cases, acquitting the accused in all cases. The conviction rate remained “zero percent” in the seven months. Last year, the same court had decided 41 cases (40 acquitted and one convicted).

In district Mirpurkhas, the sole ATC decided a total of eight cases, acquitting accused in six cases and convicting the accused in two cases, till July 31 this year. The same court had decided 17 cases (14 acquitted and three convicted) during the year 2020.

In district Shaheed Benazirabad, the ATC decided a total of 17 cases (17 acquitted and 12 convicted) till July 31 this year. The same court had decided 21 cases (20 acquitted and one convicted) during the year 2020.

In district Shikarpur, the ATC decided a total of 31 cases (27 acquitted and four convicted) till July 31 this year. Last year, the same court had decided 47 cases (37 acquitted and 10 convicted).

In district Kashmore at Kandhkot, the ATC decided a total of 48 cases (46 acquitted and two convicted) till July 31 this year. Last year, the same court had decided a total of 58 cases, acquitting the accused in all cases

In district Sukkur, two ATCs decided a total of 26 cases (17 acquitted and five convicted) till July 31 this year. Last year, both the courts had decided a total of 40 cases, acquitting the convicting in all cases.

In district Larkana, the ATC decided a total of 24 cases (23 acquitted and one convicted) till July 31 this year. Last year, the same court had decided a total of 45 cases (40 acquitted and five convicted).

100pc conviction in Khairpur, Ghotki

In district Khairpur, the ATC decided a total of 16 cases, convicting the accused in all cases till July 31 this year. The conviction rate stood at 100pc. Last year, the same court had decided a total of 38 cases (37 acquitted and one convicted).

In district Ghotki, the ATC decided a total of four cases, convicting the accused in all cases, till July 31 this year. The conviction rate stood at 100pc. Last year, the same court had decided seven cases, acquitting the accused in all cases during 2020.

When contacted, Sindh Prosecutor General Dr Faiz Shah told Dawn that he had asked the inspector general of police to ensure better coordination between the prosecution and police to enhance the conviction rate in the cases falling within the ambit of terrorism.

Further elaborating such steps, he said electronic evidence of the victims or witnesses was being recorded online by using the Whatsapp or Skype.

He added that more than 300 actions had been recommended by his office against police investigators over faults, legal loopholes and lacunas.

Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2021

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