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Balochistan govt has lost right to rule: SC


Balochistan govt has lost right to rule: SC
QUETTA: Ruling that the Balochistan government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province because of violation of the fundamental rights of the people and cannot be allowed to continue as a silent spectator to the violation of fundamental rights, the Supreme Court on Friday called upon the federal government to ensure immediate action under the Constitution to provide security to the people of Balochistan.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry headed a three-member bench, including Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, which heard a petition on the Balochistan law and order situation at the Quetta Registry of the apex court.

In its interim order in the case, the court observed that the Balochistan government had failed to establish the writ of law in the province because of which the fundamental rights of citizens, including civilians, police, Levies, Balochistan Constabulary and Frontier Corps (FC), were violated. Consequently, the provincial government had lost the ability of governance and constitutional authority to govern the province in accordance with the Constitution.

The court observed that the federal government had attempted to protect the provincial government against internal disturbance in discharge of its functions since 2006 onward and the FC was deployed to assist the provincial government for the purpose of controlling disturbances. Since then, 432 FC personnel were killed and more than 600 were injured, the court noted.

The court observed that there were prima facie serious allegations of the FC’s involvement in cases of missing persons as evident from the reportsubmitted by the IG Police that in every third missing person case, the FC personnel were being accused. Pointing out that mutilated dead bodies had been recovered in the province for the last four years, the court remarked that neither the provincial nor the federal government had succeeded in identifying the culprits involved in the killing of such persons inasmuch as no report was registered by the law-enforcement agencies. The court observed that the position in respect of the missing persons, target killings, abduction for ransom and sectarian killings was also the same.

The court remarked that during the hearing of the case, it got registered FIRs but not a single accused had been brought to book. It was a routine exercise in the province that a great majority of the cases of the same kind were found untraced. The people in general and employees, both civilians and non-civilians, had no protection as to the security of their lives and properties, dignity and professions.

The court noted that the provincial government as well as the federal government, despite clear directions of the court, including obtaining the commitment on July 31, 2012 signed by the secretaries interior and defence, Balochistan chief secretary, secretary home, inspector general of police and inspector general of the FC, failed to honour the commitment, as a result whereof disappointment, despondency and anarchy was increasing day by day among all citizens.

The court observed that under the circumstances, it was the constitutional obligation of the federation to exercise all constitutional options to ensure that the fundamental rights of the people are fully protected and secured, particularly relating to the security of their lives. But no option had so far been exercised as such options were to be followed or exercised taking into consideration the political decisions by the democratic governments while remaining within the four corners of the Constitution but regrettably despite having noticed the situation prevailing in Balochistan, nothing had so far been done.

“However, we are of the view that even now it is the constitutional obligation under Article 148(3) of the Constitution to control the internal disturbance in Balochistan as early as possible to provide security to the lives of the people of Balochistan, the provincial government which had lost its constitutional credibility cannot be allowed to continue as a silent spectator to the violation of fundamental rights,” the court remarked.

“The federal government is, therefore, called upon to ensure immediate action under the Constitution to provide security to the people of Balochistan against all the criminal aggression, including the recovery of mutilated dead bodies, missing persons, target killings, abduction for ransom and sectarian killings,” it added.

In its order, the court said it had already directed registration of cases in respect of the mutilated dead bodies, missing persons, abduction for ransom, sectarian killings, etc, and on its intervention the Balochistan government had decided to register criminal cases and make payment of compensation to the heirs of those whose dead bodies were recovered.

The court directed the Balochistan government to accelerate this process and at the same time prepare a scheme for the purpose of providing maintenance, etc, to the families whose members had been killed.

The court directed the federal and provincial governments to take steps for the rehabilitation of more than 150,000 IDPs, particularly in Dera Bugti, immediately and to take necessary steps not only for the restoration of their properties but also for providing security to their lives and property and restoring civil administration such as schools, hospitals, courts, police stations, etc.

The court ruled that the interference in the affairs of Balochistan by the secret agencies was prima facie established, as a good number of people were being issued permits to keep plying non-tax paid vehicles. Similarly, the permits were also reportedly issued to allow unauthorised possession of illicit arms and reportedly whenever such persons being involved in crimes were apprehended, they took shelter behind such unlawful permits/documents, it added.

The court reiterated that in future no such permit, either for vehicles or for arms, should be issued by any of the secret agencies i.e. ISI, MI, IB or the federal or the provincial governments. It directed that if any person produced such a permit, the law-enforcement agencies functioning under the Balochistan government should arrest him to be dealt with strictly in accordance with the law without any exception.

The court remarked that the Customs Department had also its role in creating a poor law and order situation because it knew well that thousands of smuggled vehicles were being plied throughout the province and were being used in crimes to disturb the law and order situation. “Therefore, in view of earlier directions, the FBR is directed to recover all these vehicles as early as possible and in future no such vehicle including motorcycles, etc, shall be allowed to ply without the payment of customs duty and if any such vehicle is found, the same shall be impounded and the accused persons shall be dealt with under the law,” the court ordered.

The court observed that the problem in maintaining the law and order, as it had been noticed, was also because there was no prohibition of purchasing telephone SIMs. “In this behalf, we have already issued directions on May 21, 2012 that this should be located and dealt with strictly in accordance with law,” the court ordered.

The court observed that the people of Balochistan suffered from various deprivations, as there were little industry and no chances of jobs with the result youngsters who, after having obtained education, failed to get a suitable job/work to earn their livelihood.

The court noted that the people started showing frustration because merit was totally disregarded. “Therefore, the constitutional functionaries in the province are hereby directed to take all necessary steps to remove the sense of deprivation and it is only possible if the due share in the resources of the province of Balochistan after passing of the constitutional amendment, as notified under Article 172 (2) of the Constitution, are made available to the province as early as possible and are spent transparently through an honest constitutional dispensation in the province.”

The court observed that the allegations of corruption against the government functionaries were also required to be looked into by constitutional functionaries both by the province as well as by the federation and it should also be ensured that in future the development funds, etc, were spent transparently and the persons who were responsible for misappropriating such funds, already available to the province, should be brought to book and dealt with strictly in accordance with law.

The learned advocate general representing Balochistan stated that the only solution, according to him, regarding internal disturbances within the province was the holding of true, free and fair elections to ensure representation of the people by their duly elected representatives, the court observed. In view of the statement on behalf of the province, it added, it was observed that the federal government must fulfil its duty and obligation under Article 148(3) of the Constitution.

The court observed that as under the Constitution, the elections were likely to take place, therefore, the federal as well as provincial constitutional functionaries were required to create an atmosphere and exercise their constitutional authorities for the purpose of electing true representatives.

“On our directions, investigation being carried out against the culprits allegedly involved in the commission of forced disappearances (missing persons, abduction for ransom, sectarian killings, target killings and recovery of mutilated bodies), we are not satisfied with the level of investigation either by the police or by the Levies, therefore, we direct that all these cases shall be transferred to CID,” the court order said.

About printing, publishing or disseminating any material to incite hatred or give projection to any person convicted for a terrorist act or any proscribed organisation or an organisation placed under observation or anyone concerned in terrorism, the court order said: “A person commits an offence if he prints, publishes or disseminates any material, whether by audio or video-cassettes [FM radio station] or by written, photographic, electronic, digital, wall-chalking or any the method which [glorifies terrorists or terrorist activities] incites religious, sectarian or ethnic hatred or gives projection to any person convicted for a terrorist act, or any person or organisation concerned in terrorism or proscribed organisation or an organisation placed under observation: Provided that a factual news report, made in good faith, shall not be construed to mean ‘projection’ for the purposes of this section.

“We are told that in this behalf restraint order has also been passed by the High Court of Balochistan, therefore, we confirm the order which has been passed by the High Court of Balochistan that in future the above provision of law shall be followed strictly both by the electronic and print media,” the apex court added.

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