KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday directed the ministries of foreign affairs and interior to cancel the passports and computerised national identity cards of three proclaimed offenders (POs) including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) leader Hammad Siddiqui.
A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha also sought a progress report by Oct 2 about their extradition as the three POs said to have fled the country.
The SHC also issued a show-cause notice to the foreign secretary as no one from the ministry appeared before the court during Monday’s proceedings.
It also directed the prosecutor general and inspector general of police (IGP) to provide a complete list of all POs in Sindh and whether any of them have fled the country.
Issues show cause notice to foreign secretary for failing to appear in court; IGP told to file complete list of POs in Sindh
On the previous hearing, the bench had summoned the interior secretary and also asked ministry of foreign affairs to send a senior officer to file a report about extradition of POs. It had also summoned the Sindh chief secretary for non-compliance of it earlier order regarding inspection of all factories operating in the city.
At the outset of the hearing on Monday, Special Secretary Nadeem Mehboob Malik of the ministry of interior appeared in court and filed a report regarding the POs.
The secretary informed the bench that the second red notice for Hammad Siddiqui, who has been declared a PO in the Balida factory fire case, was issued on the request of the Sindh home department since the first notice, issued in 2016, had expired after a period of five years.
The bench observed that at least the MQM leader could be traced perhaps by looking to his last entry stamp in his Pakistani passport. It directed the authorities concerned to inform it whether he was a dual notational as well as about his extradition.
About the second PO Syed Taqi Haider Shah, who had fled the country after killing an insurance officer in Karachi around 10 years ago, the SHC was informed that a red notice had also been issued against him.
However, the bench noted that nobody had appeared from the ministry of foreign affairs to explain the progress about his extradition despite the court order. It observed that since the PO was in Dubai so there seemed to be no reason why the extradition process had not been started.
Issuing a show-cause notice to the foreign secretary, the bench said that the secretary must either appear himself with a reply or send a senior officer to brief the court about the status of these cases particularly extradition of Mr Shah on the next date.
Regarding the third PO Khurram Nisar, who had fled to Sweden after killing police constable Abdur Rehman in November last year in a Clifton locality, the ministry of foreign affairs informed the bench that he was residing in Sweden and a red notice had been issued.
The SHC directed the ministry to inform it on the next hearing about steps being taken to ensure his extradition and whether there was any extradition treaty between two countries and whether Swedish authorities could prosecute a dual national who committed a crime in the country of his other citizenship.
The court directed the foreign and interior ministries and the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) to cancel passports and CNICs of the three POs.
It also asked the State Bank of Pakistan to freeze their bank accounts.
“It is not understandable that there are numerous proclaimed offenders who are within Pakistan and have also not been brought to justice. On the next date of hearing prosecutor general Sindh in coordination with IGP Sindh shall provide us a complete list of proclaimed offenders throughout the province who are at large and whether any of them have fled from the country,” the bench in its order said.
4,000 factories registered in Karachi: labour dept
On the matter of carrying out an inspection of factories operating in Karachi, Chief Secretary Mohammad Fakhre Alam appeared in court and submitted that as per the labour secretary, there were around 4,000 registered factories in Karachi.
However, Mr Alam said that he was not satisfied with these numbers and said that the department concerned had contracted the K-Electric to find out how many industrial connections it had given to various factories in the city.
The bench said that the report of the power utility indicated that there were 32,000 such factories, but it is unclear at this stage whether all the factories needed to be registered and had proper health and safety as well as other relevant measures applicable under the law.
The chief secretary further informed the court that he has formed a committee comprising secretaries of labour, home and civil defence to examine matters related to safety of factory workers.
The bench observed that the 4,000 factories identified by the labour department must be inspected to check health and safety issues.
The bench directed the labour secretary to appear in court on Oct 23 and file a compliance report about each factory.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023