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Detention of haris: SC admits plea

July 20, 2002

ISLAMABAD, July 19: The Supreme Court on Friday granted leave to appeal on a petition filed by Human Rights Commission of Pakistan to consider the effects and consequences of the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1992, on the detention of haris in Sindh by landlords.

A bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, while admitting the HRCP petition, also suspended the judgment of Sindh High Court in response to the petitions filed by haris who have been detained by landlords under bonded labour.

Former Federal Minister, Iqbal Haider Advocate, appeared on behalf of the HRCP, while its Secretary General Hina Gilani and I.A. Rahman were also present in the court.

The three-member bench also included Justice Munir A. Sheikh and Justice Muhammad Farooq.

The chief justice observed that the right of freedom of anyone cannot be denied even after paying him.

The HRCP counsel said that haris who were under custody of landlords in Sindh had filed petitions before the SHC to get relief but these were dismissed.

He said the HRCP filed the plea before the Supreme Court to challenge the SHC decision.

Attorney General of Pakistan, Makdoom Ali Khan, argued before the apex court that the “haris are treated differently in Sindh” and landlords restricted their movements after paying them some money.

He held that it was different from the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1992.

The Additional Advocate General, Sindh, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, informed the court that IG Sindh, home secretary and chief secretary, had reported after thorough investigation that there was no private jail in the province.

He said all reports and information regarding detention of haris in private jails were “baseless” and “unfounded”. The next date of hearing will be fixed by the CJ later on. —APP