Law Versus Law Enforcers: Who Were The Masked Goons

Law Versus Law Enforcers: Who Were The Masked Goons
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed the provincial chief secretary and home secretary on Monday to explain in writing who had ordered masked police personnel in plain clothes to cordon off the high court’s building and beat up media personnel and others during the appearance of former home minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza on May 23.

A division bench, comprising justices Sajjad Ali Shah and Saeeduddin Nasir, also issued show-cause notices to the Sindh IG, Karachi AIG and the DIG and SSP of South zone to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for ‘obstructing the process of justice and lowering the dignity of the court’.

During Monday’s proceedings, chief secretary Sajjad Saleem Hotiana, home secretary Mukhtar Soomro appeared before the court along with IG Ghulam Haider Jamali, Karachi AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo, the Zone South DIG Dr Jameel and SSP Chaudhry Asad.

Who ordered the operation?

Both the secretaries maintained that the dignity and sanctity of the Sindh High Court was above everything, adding that the Sindh government would not, at any cost, let it down. “There were no directions from the provincial government to cordon off the high court or the anti-terrorism court, nor would it defend the transgressors who were found involved in the incident, as reported in the media,” the secretaries added.

The bench directed, however, both the officers to file their points of view, under their own signature, explaining on whose directions the high court was cordoned off and who authorised the masked men in plain clothes to participate in the operation.

Police involvement

The two judges observed that IG Jamali, AIG Thebo and the South zone’s DIG and SSP were asked on whose direction the SHC was cordoned off, “but none could give a satisfactory response, which clearly reflected their personal involvement.”

IG Jamali said that criminals with latest weapons had tried to barge into the high court and the sole intent of the police was to prevent any untoward incident. “However, he [IG] could not disclose if it was a law officer on whose command it had taken place and such silence on the part of the chief police officer leaves no doubt in our mind that he is trying to conceal the true facts from this court,” said the bench.

The bench recalled that all efforts were made to contact the chief secretary, the home secretary, IG and DIG South, but none were available on the day of the incident. A court officer was even directed to procure the attendance of the incharge of the police party that had cordoned off the court, but none appeared, they added.

The bench questioned that even if the IG’s version was accepted, why had the police officers avoided being contacted by the court registrar and not taken him into confidence? “In the circumstances as observed by us, the conduct and actions not only appears to be an attempt to obstruct the course of justice but also lower the process and dignity of this court,” remarked the head of the bench, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.

The bench ordered the police officers to file their personal affidavits at 11am today (May 26), detailing the names of each and every officer who participated in the operation after watching the CCTV footage.

The court also directed them to disclose the name of the officer who authorised the operation and cautioned that failure to do so will leave the court with no other option but to take action against IG Jamali as well as AIG Thebo.

Attack on media persons

Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed pleaded to join the proceedings on behalf of the media persons who were beaten up. He offered to assist the court in pointing out the officers who were involved in abusing their authority. The judges allowed his request.

Meanwhile, the judges directed the Rangers to continue providing security to Mirza till  his next hearing today.

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