KARACHI, Feb 8: The Supreme Court ordered the Sindh police chief on Friday to submit a report about the current postings of 400 under-trial police officials and explain why no action had been taken against them so far.
“The reasons for delay in prosecution may also be clearly spelt out,” Justice Jawwad Khawaja remarked during a hearing on the Karachi killing suo motu implementation case.
The larger bench reproached Inspector General Fayyaz Leghari for giving field postings to people who had been charge-sheeted and were facing trial in cases of heinous crime, wondering how could such policemen protect citizens.
The bench, which comprised Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, put off the matter to Feb 25.
The judges went through a report of the Member Inspection Team (MIT) of the Sindh High Court regarding police officials facing trials in different courts across the province. “It is our understanding that these persons are currently enjoying field postings even though they are facing serious charges,” it observed.
Justice Muslim said it was obvious that nobody would dare testify against those under-trial police officials who were given field postings.
The larger bench came down heavily on Inspector General Fayyaz Leghari after he expressed ignorance about the posting of the 400 policemen facing trial, saying that he headed a force of 100,000 personnel.
The inability of Ali Sher Jakhrani, an assistant inspector general, to update the court on the matter made matters worse for the provincial police.“If indeed these police functionaries are enjoying field postings despite the criminal cases against them, it represents an alarming and dangerous breakdown of the police administration prima facie,” the bench observed.
It was dismayed when the IGP’s counsel stated that had a copy of the MIT’s report been made available earlier, the court’s query could have been answered. “We are surprised on this submission because it is not the job of the court to gather information as to the police officers facing criminal charges/trials.”
Shah Khawer, Fayyaz Leghari’s counsel, informed the court that the provincial police chief had set up a committee comprising police officials of the Special Branch, CID and Crimes Branch for taking measures to protect witnesses.
“If you have made such efforts, why prosecution witnesses in a journalist’s murder case were killed,” the bench hit back, recalling the 2011 killing of Wali Khan Babar, a reporter for a news channel.
The apex court recalled that it had directed in its judgment of Oct 6, 2011, that an independent and depoliticised investigating agency should conduct inquiries without being influenced by outsiders.
When the IGP said witnesses were reluctant to testify against under-trial persons in courts, Justice Khilji observed that people had lost faith in police and other law enforcement agencies.
He recalled the killing of police officers who took part in operations in Karachi over the years and observed: “How can you protect people when you are not even able to protect your own men and arrest their killers?”
Justice Khilji went on to observe that the alarming law and order situation in Karachi was causing flight of capital to other countries such as Bangladesh and Malaysia. “How long would you leave the innocent Karachiites at the mercy of criminals and terrorists?”
ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: In reply to a query, the IGP said there were “only” 1.2 million immigrants in the city.
The bench recalled that the Oct 2011 judgment had asked the director general of Nadra and the IGP to set up a joint cell of “specialist officials” and experts to identify aliens so that they might be dealt with in accordance with the law. “It is regrettable that this has not been done,” a judge said.
The IGP submitted that the National Alien Registration Authority had allowed registered aliens to stay in Pakistan.
The bench remarked: “No report has been submitted in this behalf despite our orders. The learned DAG [deputy attorney general] is also clueless and has been unable to answer our queries or to give any definitive statement as to why our order has not been complied with and who is responsible for such non-compliance.”
In reply to a question, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Waseem Ahmed stated that he was not aware of the number of judicial enquiries conducted into the killings in Karachi since 1985. “This statement appears to be quite extraordinary coming as it does from a senior functionary of the province’s home department,” the bench lamented.
The ACS said he was able to trace only 15 inquiries in the department, placing the record of these judicial inquiries before the court.
The bench told him to submit the record of judicial inquiries other than those already submitted or “in the alternative a categorical statement shall be made that there are no other reports of any judicial inquiry apart from the 15 noted above”.