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Judicial commission irked by 'humiliation' of judicial magistrates.

KARACHI -- The judicial commission came down hard on the provincial chief secretary on Friday over misbehaving with judicial magistrates and barring them from inspecting industrial units.

Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, who headed the Supreme Court-appointed commission, expressed his annoyance to Chief Secretary Muhammad Rizwan Memon over denial of entry to judicial magistrates to the factories to inspect the availability of the solid waste treatment plants.

The judicial magistrates and officers of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) had reported that they were not allowed by factory owners to inspect their premises to check availability of the solid waste treatment plants.

The commission told the chief secretary that the judicial magistrates, who were directed by the commission to inspect the factories, had not been allowed entry to 77 industrial units.

It noted that the judicial officers had been humiliated and therefore directed the additional advocate-general to immediately call the police chief so that an order could be passed for strict action against the factory owners in accordance with the law.

The law officer informed the commission that the inspector-general of police was busy before the Supreme Court and requested time to enable him to appear before the commission upon his return.

The West SSP appeared before the commission and was asked why the police did not take action and register FIRs against the factory owners for not allowing the judicial officers to inspect their premises.

Justice (retd) Muslim asked whether there was a state within the state in his area, questioning whether the SHOs were more powerful than the SSP. He directed the SSP to accompany the judicial magistrates to the factories for inspection.

The commission inquired from Karachi Additional IG Mushtaq Mahar as to why his police force was too weak to act against factory owners, who assured that action would be taken against the responsible persons.

The commission issued notices to the owners of the 77 industrial units to personally appear and furnish written explanations as to why the judicial magistrates and Sepa officers were not allowed to inspect their premises.

It also directed the authorities concerned to submit a report regarding pollution caused by burning of solid waste in Mehmoodabad.

RO plants

The commission noted that the judicial magistrates had reported that most water filtration plants in the province were found to be out of order during inspections. Planning and Development Commission Chairperson Waseem Ahmed informed the commission that the government was looking into the matter.

The commission told him to furnish details of the funds spent on the maintenance of the reverse osmosis and water filtration plants. It observed that all contracts for filtration plants were being awarded to Pak Oasis and inquired about the company's performance.

Justice (retd) Muslim observed that a person who was nominated in four cases had been appointed as head of the project to install RO plants. He gave one week to the local government secretary to submit details regarding maintenance funds.

Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar complained that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation had spent Rs30 million on cleaning storm water drains but it was wasted. He accused the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board and other departments' officials of not allowing him to work.

But, the local government secretary complained that the mayor was acting without seeking permission from the government.

The commission inquired from Memon as to why each officer had been given additional charges of three different posts. It ordered him to immediately withdraw the additional charges of posts given to the officers and appoint qualified officers against such posts.

The commission also directed the chief secretary, mayor and heads of the taskforce, KWSB, cantonment boards and others concerned to hold a meeting to find out a solution to the problem of discharge of the solid waste into the sea without treatment. It also told them submit a report in this regard by the next date of hearing.

The commission also ordered the defunct North Sindh Urban Services Corporation officials to immediately hand over the vehicles purchased and still under their use to the deputy commissioner concerned by Friday.

On the last date, the commission had directed the judicial magistrates concerned to carry out inspections of the industrial units to see if they had installed solid waste filtration plants and whether or not they were functional.
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Publication:The Express Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Feb 17, 2018
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