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Replies sought on plea for impartial probe into Rao-led ‘encounters’

Replies sought on plea for impartial probe into Rao-led ‘encounters’

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday once again directed the provincial police chief, home secretary and others to submit their respective replies on a petition seeking an impartial inquiry into alleged police encounters led by former Malir SSP Rao Anwar since 1992.

Headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, a two-judge bench also asked the petitioner to satisfy the court on the maintainability of his plea as the provincial law officer submitted in court that the petition against the police officer was not maintainable.

The bench put off the hearing to March 30.

The petition against SP Rao — who is on the run after being nominated in a case pertaining to killing a budding model, Naqeebullah Mehsud, in a staged encounter — was filed by a civil right campaigner, Advocate Muzammil Mumtaz, who also impleaded the home secretary as one of the respondents.

The petitioner asked the court to constitute a high-profile committee to probe into the killings of 250 persons in ‘fake encounters’ led by SP Rao Anwar.

Petitioner claims officer involved in ‘hundreds of staged encounters’

He informed the judges that Rao Anwar had been serving as the Malir SSP for quite a long period and during his tenure he led hundreds of ‘staged encounters’ but none of them was scrutinised impartially.

He said that the SSP, who was recently placed under suspension, had misused his powers.

The suspended officer came in hot water after alleged extrajudicial killing of 27-year-old Naqeeb, a young man found very active in sharing his pictures on social media.

The killing led to a national outcry after Mehsud’s modelling pictures posted on social media went viral, sparking anger and protest rallies in several cities.

The victim’s family and friends rejected the claims of militant links and said he was an aspiring model who arrived in Karachi in 2008 in search of job and had been running a shop in the city.

Rao was placed under suspension after a government committee interrogated him and recommended his immediate removal “to ensure fair and transparent inquiry of the incident and investigation of the case”.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had also taken notice of the incident and ordered the provincial government to submit a report into the killing.

NAB asks SHC to dismiss Sharmila’s plea

The National Accountability Bureau requested the Sindh High Court to throw out the petition of Pakistan Peoples’ Party lawmaker Sharmila Farooqi against the anti-corruption watchdog for writing to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Sindh Assembly speaker to disqualify her for having been convicted by a court.

Ms Farooqui had moved the court against NAB for writing to the ECP and the speaker of the provincial assembly to disqualify her for having been convicted by a court.

The NAB prosecutor asked the court to throw out Sharmila’s plea contending that the PPP lawmaker should be disqualified under the NAB ordinance.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing to March 6 and extended its interim restraining order to the ECP and the speaker not to take any coercive action against Ms Farooqi.

The PPP lawmaker submitted in her petition that the top anti-corruption institution had filed a reference against her, her father, who was a Steel Mills chairman, and mother for investing a huge amount in National Savings Schemes which did not commensurate with their known sources of income. However, she said, later they entered into a plea bargain with NAB which was allowed by the relevant court in 2001.

The PPP lawmaker said that in 2016, the NAB had written to the ECP, and others calling for her disqualification under Section 15 of the ordinance.

“Section 15 of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999, which provided that a person stands disqualified for holding public office for 21 years after having been convicted by a court, cannot be applied in her client’s case under any circumstances,” her counsel had argued.

On the other hand, NAB prosecutor had submitted that Ms Farooqi cannot hold any public office as she had been convicted by an accountability court. He said she, her mother Anisa and father Usman Farooqi, stood disqualified for holding public office for 21 years as per the judgement of the accountability court issued on April 28, 2001 under Section 15 of the NAO.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2018

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