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PHC declares 24-hour duty by school watchmen illegal

PHC declares 24-hour duty by school watchmen illegal

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday declared illegal the directives issued by respective district education officers (DEOs) of taking 24 hours duty from watchmen in government schools across the province.

The bench comprising Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan observed that the said practice of 24 hours duty from watchmen was contrary to law and the watchmen should be functioning eight-hour a day.

The bench accepted a writ petition filed by president of Class-IV Employees Association of education department, Akber Khan Mohmand, who had challenged the existing practice of round the clock duty by watchmen.

Advocate Sardar Ali Raza appeared for the petitioner and argued that few weeks ago the high court had decided a writ petition of a watchman from Dir district and issued directives to the provincial government to abandon that practice.

He stated while provincial government issued the required notification for ending the controversial practice, the DEOs concerned were still following the old practice and watchmen in different districts were forced to perform 24-hour duty.

Mr Raza said that high court had also issued directives in February while allowing a petition filed by a watchman at Government Girls Primary School, Dag Ismailkhel, Nowshera, who had challenged the said directives and subsequent guidelines issued by the school principal.

The counsel argued that the orders of the DEOs were illegal. He questioned how a single human being could perform duty round the clock. He added that the official working hour was eight hours a day and asking an individual to perform duty beyond that duration was illegal.

He said that the state was responsible for providing security to a public school but the government had shifted its responsibility to individuals.

CONVICTION SET ASIDE: A bench comprising Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Syed Afsar Shah set aside conviction of two alleged extortionists by an anti-terrorism court and acquitted them in a case of seeking extortion from a resident of Hayatabad Township in Peshawar.

The bench accepted the appeal filed by Abdur Rehman and Ghaniur Rehman.

They were convicted by an anti- terrorism court and were sentenced to eight years rigorous imprisonment each with fine of Rs80,000 each.

Advocate Arshid Hussain Yousafzai appeared for the appellants and contended that they were charged under different sections of Anti-Terrorism Act and Pakistan Penal Code. He added that the prosecution had alleged that the appellants were demanding millions of rupees extortion from Javed Khan, a resident of Hayatabad, by calling him through cellular phone.

He argued that the owners of the said cellular phones were not included as accused persons in the case, whereas they had been mentioned as witnesses, who had deposed that the mobile numbers were used by the appellants.

He said that the witnesses appearing on behalf of prosecution had recorded conflicting statements.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2016

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