How Karachi peace to prevail when 22000 offenders are scot-free, asks SC

Karachi: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday observed that law and order situation in Karachi can only deteriorate if over 22000 absconders and proclaimed offenders are roaming in the city.

A larger bench of the Supreme Court comprised Justice Jawad S Khawaja, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani and Justice Amir Hani was hearing the Karachi law and order case at the apex court’s Karachi registry.

Home secretary Waseem Ahmed, Inspector General of Sindh Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari, Additional IG police Iqbal Mehmood, Advocate General Sindh Abdul Fatah Malik and other officials appeared before the court.

At outset of the hearing, Justice Jawad S Khawaja asked the police officials to apprise the court about the substantial efforts made by their department to maintain law and order situation in the city since the passing of order by Supreme Court on the Karachi law and order case in the November 2011. However, officials admitted that rather reduction in lawlessness in the city the situated has worsened.

The court observed that police confessed in its report that more than 22000 absconders and proclaimed offenders were roaming in the city and police was incapable to arrest killers and criminals. The court said that life of common men has been put at the mercy of culprits.

IG Sindh Police informed the court that the police have arrested more than 3,000 proclaimed offenders in Karachi.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that police should admit that they are unable to arrest the offenders and criminals.

Prosecutor General Sindh Shahadat Awan told the court that there are actually 22,535 proclaimed offenders and absconders in the city. To which Justice Khawaja remarked that the authorities were not taking any action to arrest these accused.

He said as per Article 9 of the Constitution that state ensures that no person should be deprived of life and property. He observed that if government does not provide protection to people, it should give an advertisement that people themselves are responsible for safeguarding their life and property and it will be no longer responsibility of the State.

Justice Amir Hani questioned the police officials that how many accused involved in the targeted killings have been sentenced till today. To which AIG replied that none of the accused has been punished.

The court also enquired about the number of investigation officers in city. AIG replied that 250 investigation officers are working in Karachi.

The court observed that police do not make substantial efforts to track down the culprits, and show in their reports that criminals could not be traced. Police officials submitted that there is shortage of police force therefore the police was not fully able to tackle the prevailing situation in the city.

The court observed that fair and free election as per the constitution would remain an elusive dream, if the lawlessness continues in the city. The court said that government doles out huge amount to the rangers but since the rangers have been deployed in the city situation has become even worse.

The court asked about the kidnapping for ransom cases reported in city, to which IG Sindh informed the court about 105 such cases were reported during 2012 and a single case reported in January 2013.

Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked that untrained perpetrators were kidnapping people for ransom, while trained culprits give away slips (extortion chits) and collect extortion money in the city.

Senior Superintendent of Police Niaz Khoso told the court that since Sindh Arms Act-2012 and law for protection of witness are not put in place, unrest in the city will likely to continue. The court observed that even though there is consensus of police over legislation in this regard but legislation is not being carried out. The court said that there will be sharp decline in the lawlessness in city if appropriate legislation is made, which will also give police adequate powers to deal the situation.

Home Secretary Waseem Ahmed apprised court that he has addressed a letter to the federal law secretary for the uniform legislation regarding licenses of arms in the country. The court said that legislation regarding arms licenses falls within the provincial domain and provinces are empowered to legislate in the subject matter.

The hearing of case was put off till Thursday.

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