KARACHI: An antiterrorism court has expressed its displeasure with the provincial authorities for failing to provide the equipment required for effective investigation and conducting in-camera trials in rape cases.
The judge of the antiterrorism court-X, who is trying an alleged serial rapist of minor girls, has issued a letter, for the fourth time, to the provincial home secretary with the direction to provide all the equipment and facilities for effective investigation and conducting in-camera trial in rape cases, as had been ordered by the Supreme Court.
A 30-year-old labourer, resident of Jhang in Punjab, has been charged with allegedly abducting five underage girls and subjecting them to sexual assault within the remit of the Shah Latif Town, Sukkan and Quaidabad police stations between 2015 and 2018.
Police detained him during a bungled attempt to abduct a sixth minor victim to rape her within the remit of the Shah Latif Town police station.
When the matter recently came up for hearing, the judge observed that the court had issued a letter to the provincial home secretary to provide all the necessary equipment and other facilities, as directed by the SC in its order passed on a petition filed by Kainat Soomro and other survivors of such abuses in 2015.
The judge further observed that no compliance report had been received in that regard from the home secretary and directed the office to reissue the letter to the home department for providing all the necessary equipment/arrangements as enshrined in the SC judgement.
Earlier, special public prosecutor Ghulam Abbas Dalwani informed the court that a letter was issued to the registrar of the ATC in the home department for providing the necessary equipment and facilities, but no positive response had been received yet.
Investigating officer DSP Ali Hassan Shaikh informed the court that he had contacted Mohammad Hussain Solangi, the person in charge of the DNA Laboratory at the Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences in Jamshoro, to obtain the case properties in all the cases, which were sent to the laboratory for conducting chemical and medical analyses.
He requested for time to obtain and produce the same before the court on the next date of hearing.
Granting the request, the judge allowed time to the IO with the direction to appear on the next date of hearing with a detailed report and the case property.
He was further directed to ensure the presence of all the prosecution witnesses before the court on the next date for recording their testimonies and fixed the matter on Oct 15.
Initially, police claimed to have detained three men in connection with the five cases which were pending disposal for a long time in court.
In July, an investigating officer filed a report in court revealing that the samples of the DNA of a detained suspect had matched in all the cases.
The report further said that though the child was not subjected to any sexual assault, on “suspicion” the police obtained the suspect’s DNA sample and sent it to a laboratory for matching with those drawn from four minor girls, who had been subjected to sexual assault, but the cases had been pending trial since 2015.
The IO disclosed that the medical report revealed that the suspect’s sample had matched those of the five children, who were victims of sexual assault.
Subsequently, the prosecution said the suspect’s involvement in other cases had been determined with medical evidence, thus he had been booked in those cases as well.
Therefore, the court indicted the suspect for allegedly kidnapping and raping the underage victims and initiated a joint trial by clubbing all the cases together. He pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the cases.
The court discharged other suspects after the IOs in the respective cases recommended their release under Section 169 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Five cases have been registered under sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping) and 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 (acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at three police stations.
One case was lodged at the Sukkan police station in 2018 while two each at the Shah Latif (2016-17) and the Quaidabad (2015-17) police stations.