KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Tuesday took a decision with a majority vote on e-tagging of habitual criminals in view of an alarming surge in street crimes in the metropolis.

The cabinet meeting, presided over by Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, decided to allow affixing of an electronic device to the body of habitual offenders for effective monitoring of their movement. The decision was taken although some members of the cabinet opposed it, arguing that the measure was a violation of human rights.

E-tagging is a tool of surveillance through the device and is proposed to be affixed to the body of a criminal or suspected criminal at large on bail or parole.

An alarming rise in street crimes in the city had forced the province’s top authorities to sit together in February and chalk out a strategy to cope with the situation and check the trend.

The home department had presented the draft of ‘The Sindh Habitual Offenders’ Monitoring Bill 2022’ with the objective to ensure effective monitoring of such offenders with modern technology; checking the menace of street crimes and ensuring safer cities and neighborhoods in the province focusing urban areas.

Some cabinet members oppose the bill, term it violation of human rights

The Tuesday meeting was informed that a single-unit device in the form of an anklet or bracelet contained a central processing unit with global positioning system (GPS) and cellular technology that permitted active, real time and continuous monitoring of offenders round the clock.

According to the draft law, the device will be affixed through court order upon application of prosecutor or police officer for the period the accused person remains on bail.

The Section 4 of the draft law imposes a three-year imprisonment on the habitual offender for his failure to comply with the prescribed terms and conditions and imposes Rs1 million penalty or a three-year imprisonment in case of tampering with the electronic device.

When the chief minister opened a discussion on the draft bill, some of the cabinet members termed it a violation of human rights while some others expressed the view that the harsh clauses would discourage street crimes. After over 40 minutes of debate on the draft law, it was approved with majority vote and referred to the provincial assembly for further debate and approval.

Registration of fishing jetties

The fisheries and livestock department presented ‘The Sindh Registration and Regulation of Fishing Jetties Rules-2022’ before the cabinet citing different agencies’ reports that a number of illegal jetties were being operated along the coastal areas of the province. The activity was reported to be completely unchecked by government agencies causing an estimated loss of Rs4bn to 5bn annually in the form of evasion of taxes or duties to government and was affecting fish exports.

The cabinet was told that there were 64 unregistered jetties -- five at Keamari, 27 at Malir, 29 at Thatta, two at Sujawal and one at Badin – functioning in the province.

The cabinet approved the rules and directed the fisheries department to lease/license the jetties against a prescribed fee for a period of three years.

According to the rules, the department would have the authority to conduct inspection of a jetty prior to its registration and licensing. The provincial marine wing of fisheries department would raise marine police to provide security to the jetties and maintain law and order there.

NED Technology Park

The cabinet gave its approval for the establishment of a ‘Technology Park’ at the NED University under the public-private partnership mode. The university was allowed to initiate the process and seek the status of special economic zone for eight years. The provincial government would also financially support the university’s IT Intervention Fund.

Orange Line deadline

Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, while presiding over a meeting on the city’s transport issue, directed the Karachi Mass Transit Authority to complete the remaining work on BRT Orange Line corridor by the end of this month so that it could be made operational from the beginning of next month.

The CM was told that 95 per cent of work on the 3.8km Orange Line had been completed. It will have eight doors, to be installed at its four stations, and one depot.

The chief minister directed Transport and Mass Transit Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon to expedite the civil work for the completion of the corridor so that it could be started with the induction of 20 buses.

CJ link canal opening opposed

The cabinet expressed its serious reservations over the opening of CJ link canal at a time when Sindh was faced with an acute shortage of drinking water. It urged Indus River System Authority (Irsa) to take necessary measures for the closure of the canal.

Briefing the media after the cabinet meeting, Mr Memon, who also holds the portfolio of information, said a formal letter would be sent to the federal government to convey to it Sindh’s strong reservations over the opening of the link canal.

He said Irsa was distributing water among provinces in an unfair manner and added that the 1991 Water Accord was not being implemented.

“Opening of the C-J canal is an injustice to Sindh,” he said, adding that the issue would be raised at every available forum.

Published in Dawn, May 11th, 2022

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