Operation clean-up inevitable in Karachi: SC
07 March, 2013
KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that the Sindh government has failed to protect the lives of the people, which is evident from its indifferent attitude towards the Abbas Town blast victims.
The court also ordered the removal of the IG Sindh, DIG East, SSP Malir and concerned officers from their respective posts for their failure in preventing the blast and providing assistance to the affected families.
"Democracy is the best revenge does not mean that revenge should be taken from the people," Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry observed while heading a three-member bench of the apex court hearing the suo moto proceedings on the Abbas Town bombing and the failure of the government in providing timely assistance to the affected families.
The court observed that it has been noticed that during the Abbas Town blast no one, whether a constable or the IG Sindh and Rangers, reached the site of the incident immediately. The material/reports made available by the media had shown the inhabitants of the area on their own helping each other.
The court observed that primarily, it was the duty of the law enforcement agencies, both police as well as Rangers, to prevent the commission of happening of such offences and if at all on account of their negligence the incident had taken place, they could have at least extended helping hand to the victims but they failed to do so.
"We are reluctant to hold that the manner in which the incident had taken place and subsequent thereto as the executive behaved with the victims etc is highly unconstitutional, unlawful and illegal," the court observed. It said action was required to be taken immediately against the in-charge police officers starting from IG Sindh to SHO inasmuch as, SSP, DSP, etc had not been proceeded against so far.
The SC bench held that situation of law and order has not been improved in Karachi, for which no one else except the provincial government/executives are responsible. The court observed that the Supreme Court after passing the judgment gave sufficient time to the government for maintaining law and order situation.
"The citizens/general public of Karachi constantly are being denied their fundamental rights of life and security in terms of article 9 of the Constitution," the court observed. "We were hopeful that in view of the above observations situation of law and order would have been improved but here the position is altogether different," the court said.
"The target killings, kidnapping for ransom, bhatta and terrorism have increased day by day," said the court, adding that it is unfortunate that despite happening of the incident and all the incidents which had been taken place earlier, no action against the responsible police officers and Rangers had been taken, may be for the reason known to the provincial government/high-ups of the Rangers.
The court directed the chief secretary, being the head of the executive, to immediately suspend concerned SSP, DSP and SHO and issue such notification during the course of the day. The court suspended officers to join interrogation on account of their criminal negligence in not providing assistance to the inhabitants and ordered that notification regarding suspension of such officers be also sent for perusal of court in chamber.
The court directed the chief secretary to look into the conduct of AIG Karachi Iqbal Mehmood, who was not present there and Shabbir Shaikh, Additional IGP, was holding the charge, as well with reference to the case and send report to court on the next date of hearing. The bench said if need be the court would also pass appropriate order in his case as well.
The court observed that Rangers were given powers under the anti-terrorism law to combat terrorism especially for Karachi, however, prima facie it seems that Rangers are equally responsible if any incident takes place as rangers are deployed from 1995 onwards to perform their duties while with effect from August 25, 2011, powers of police have also been conferred upon it so that they may cause arrest etc of the accused persons.
The court directed the Rangers law officer Ashfaq Ahmed to place on record copies of the notification extended time to time by the provincial government since 1995 and called DG Rangers Major General Rizwan Akhtar to appear before the court after the break time.
DG Rangers Major General Rizwan Akhtar appeared before the SC bench and stated that under section 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 his force is required to prevent commission of terrorist acts or scheduled offences.He also informed that at present 11,000 troops of Rangers have been deployed in Karachi and efforts are being made to prevent terrorism.
The court observed that despite the presence of considerable number of troops of Rangers crime of terrorism and other offences referred to in the schedule of the act have not been controlled or prevented despite the fact that the Rangers have got their own system, though at a small scale, to gather secret information about the commission of terrorism etc.
The chief justice observed that if the 11,000 force work effectively then not even a single bullet could be smuggled into the city. The CJ said why borders of the city were not sealed for cleaning the city from all kinds of weapons asking DG Rangers he should think as how the weapons are coming in the city freely and identify the weakness for stopping smuggling of weapons.
Justice Iftikhar observed that Rangers could even start operation for cleaning the city from today in compliance of the court order.The court observed that at the end of the day DG Rangers will be held responsible if commission of offence is not prevented and Rangers failed to exercise their powers under the Anti-Terrorism Act, adding that the court will send recommendation against the DG Rangers for taking action against him for failure in discharging of duties and exercising powers under the law.
DG Rangers said no secret information was received by his force regarding the Abbas Town blast on March 3. He said there was generalised information about the happening of the incident.
To a court query, the DG Rangers stated that troops deployed near the place of incident could not reach for the assistance of the victims on account of protest launched by the inhabitants of the area and other persons who had gathered there in the meanwhile.
When the court inquired him as to whether any detail of the blast incident report has been transmitted to the secretary interior, he replied in the affirmative and assured to file the same on next date of the hearing.
The court inquired him as to whether any action has been taken against the officials/officers failing in preventing terrorism in Abbas Town, he stated that no such action was required to be taken because the officers, who were posted there, had been performing well in the past.
The court observed that such aspect of the case would be considered later on as it seems that despite failing to prevent the commission of terrorism no effective step by initiating action against the persons posted over there had been taken by the DG Rangers.
The court directed DG Rangers to file the reply/explanation about the bomb blast incident and also explain that as to why in presence of the notification under section 5 of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997, Rangers had failed to prevent the commission of terrorism and other offences mentioned in the schedule, particularly when the police powers had also been conferred upon the force for the purpose of arresting and conducing raids to cause the arrest of the accused persons.
The court in meantime ordered the federal government through secretary interior as well as Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) to put up their reports through their counsel about happening of the incident, particularly pointing out as to whether before the incident any information was communicated to the police, Rangers and if so, then "we will have to examine this aspect of the case as well".
Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) counsel Ghulam Qadir Jatoi submitted that at the time of the blast, entire police hierarchy was sitting in the engagement ceremony of a politician and over 10,000 policemen were deployed for protocol of ministers and influential persons.
The court directed Advocate General Sindh to submit report as how many persons were killed after the judgment of the Supreme Court on Karachi law and order situation.Justice Amir Hani Muslim inquired why FIR was registered with delay of 34 hours of the incident.
The court observed that the chief minister, who seems to be unaware of the situation, did not bother to take notice of the criminal negligence of the police officers in the incident and did not direct IG Sindh and other high-ranking officers to resign from the post.
Taking exception to continuance posting of SSP Rao Anwar Khan in Malir for more than four years, Justice Amir Hani observed that how a police officer could remain in the same post for more than three years.
Justice Iftikhar expressed surprise over the posting of SSP for several years and observed if this SSP was inevitable for such a post or without him the police could not perform any function. "If this officer is so effective then why he may not be sent to Wana for curbing the crimes," the CJ observed. He said time for telling lies has long gone and now the media has exposed everything.
Justice Iftikhar asked IG Sindh and other senior police officers if they do not have any courage to face the situation or facing life threats from the criminals then they should leave the post.
The chief justice inquired from AG Sindh that how many people have been suspended. The AG replied that no action so far has been taken against any police officer. Justice Iftikhar observed that no action was taken against any responsible officer despite such heavy loss of lives.
Justice Iftikhar observed that despite failure on part of the delinquent officers that caused loss of several precious lives of the citizens, the government did not take any action against them and allowed them to carryon their duties, which is deplorable. "Do not play with emotions of the people they have rights more than us," he observed.
Justice Amir Hani observed that despite court orders, appointments are made in police department on political basis and still DIG is appointed who did not even join police force in his carrier.
The court appreciated the efforts of Geo News anchor Kamran Khan and observed that he made sincere efforts for exposing inefficiency of the government and law enforcement agencies. The hearing of the case was adjourned till March 8.