KARACHI: A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has resumed hearing the Karachi law and order case here today (Thursday).
The bench comprising the CJ, Justice Jawad S. Khwaja, Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Athar Saeed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed are hearing the case at the Karachi Registry of the apex court, where Attorney General, who was summoned by the court on Wednesday, will inform the bench about federation’s stance.
The court had also ordered Sindh Chief Secretary to submit details about letters written to federation and chief minister to put an end to unrest in Karachi.
Meanwhile, the bench was occupied with the hearing, the residents of restive Lyari protested outside the Karachi Registry. The protesters also included children and women from the said area.
The demonstrators were carrying placards and demanded to take steps to restore peace in the troubled vicinity.
Earlier on Wednesday, CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that the police and Rangers had failed to ensure the law and order situation in Karachi and the government’s writ in the port city had been reduced to zero.
The apex court’s bench observed that the court wanted to know what correspondence had been made between the Sindh chief secretary and the federal and provincial governments over the Karachi law and order situation.
The SC directed chief secretary Sindh to submit all the record and correspondence between his office and federal and provincial executives regarding the performance of Rangers and police in controlling the law and order situation in Karachi.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the performance of police and Rangers, the chief justice observed that over 100 people had been killed in last nine days and the role of police and Rangers was not visible anywhere to stop the killings and arrest the culprits.
The court observed that prima facie, it had been noticed that the law and order situation in Karachi was deteriorating day by day as reported in the media consistently that targeted killings, extortion, existence of no-go areas were all over the city.
The court observed it seemed that the police being the primarily responsible for maintaining law and order and ensuring protection of citizens was lacking in performing its duties although Rangers were with them in administration besides intelligence agencies and Frontier Constabulary (FC) but the crime rate was not declining.
The chief justice observed that the court wanted to know about the bottlenecks and influential people who stopped the police and Rangers from performing their duties. The CJ observed that people were becoming disappointed due to the worsening situation of Karachi and such heat should be felt by the police and law enforcement agencies.
Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed that the court wanted enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution as protection of rights of citizens was the prime responsibility of the government. The court directed the IG Sindh to submit the details of targeted killings and other crimes from July 28 to August 28.
Chief Secretary Ejaz Chaudhry submitted that he conducted meetings with the heads of police and law enforcement agencies and several steps had been taken to control the law and order situation. He submitted that he himself monitored the law and order situation in Lyari and issued directions to the police and law enforcement agencies. The court observed that had the SC’s judgment been implemented in letter and spirit, the situation would have been different contrary to the present situation.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja observed that no progress had been made to improve the law and order of the city and the situation remained the same as it was in August 2011.The court inquired the chief secretary as whether he had communicated to the federal and provincial governments about the situation of Karachi as it was the responsibility of the chief secretary of the province to inform both the governments that things were running smoothly or otherwise.
The chief secretary submitted that he had conducted several meetings over the Karachi situation and sought time to submit the record of the meetings. The court directed the CS to produce all record/correspondence of his office with federal and provincial executives for the last two years commencing from October 2011 till now.
The court expressed surprise at the statement of deputy attorney general who stated that law and order was the internal matter of the provincial government observing how the federal government could become indifferent to the situation of Karachi whereas it was the constitutional duty of the government to protect every province from external aggression and internal disturbances ensuring implementation of the rights of citizens guaranteed under the Constitution. The court took notice over non-filing of a fresh statement by the federal government and directed the deputy attorney general to file reply about the federal government’s stand on the Karachi law and order situation.
The chief justice observed that an improvement in law and order situation could not be made until zero-tolerance policy was adopted towards all the criminals.
DG Rangers Maj General Rizwan Akhtar submitted that militant wings still existed in the political parties as criminals were aware that they could not be punished due to a weak prosecution system. The DG Rangers admitted that law and order situation could not be controlled in the city though his force was actively taking steps for curbing crimes. He submitted that after the SC judgment, the situation of law and order had improved due to Rangers action against the criminals and peace was restored for a few months but the criminals were soon released by the courts due to defective investigation and prosecution. He submitted that due to terrorism incidents, 28 Rangers personnel were killed while more than 50 injured.
The chief justice asked the DG Rangers as to what steps were taken by the paramilitary force that was present in the province since 1994 for prevention of crimes. The CJ observed that judges of the court were ready to visit Kharadar, Jodia Bazar and other areas of Lyari if Rangers and police claimed that they had restored peace in these areas.
Justice Gulzar Ahmed asked the DG Rangers as which authority was supposed to abolish the militant wings in the political parties as Rangers were not called to Karachi just for party but to prevent and curb the crimes.