Sindh to surveil habitual offenders

‘Sindh Habitual Offenders Monitoring Bill, 2022’ passed to curb street crime

Photo: Express Tribune

KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly on Friday unanimously passed “The Sindh Habitual Offenders Monitoring Bill, 2022”, following months of deliberation on effective strategies to track habitual criminals. The bill, introduced by PPP MPA Ghanwer Ali Khan Isran, received approval from the Sindh cabinet last year before being presented in the assembly and subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Home for further discussions.

The law targets individuals charged with offenses such as vehicle theft, extortion, robbery, attempted robbery, causing hurt during robbery, dacoity, or any offense under the Narcotics Act 1997, designating them as habitual offenders.

“The objective of this bill is to combat the menace of street crimes and ensure safer cities and neighbourhoods, particularly in the urban areas of the province. Its aim is to enable effective monitoring of habitual offenders through the use of modern technology,” stated the bill’s objects and reasons.

To achieve this goal, the bill proposes the use of electronic devices, such as anklets or bracelets, which are equipped with a central processing unit featuring a global positioning system (GPS) and cellular technology. These devices would allow continuous, real-time monitoring of the offenders round the clock.

As per the bill’s provisions, the electronic device would be affixed to the offender through a magistrate’s order upon the application of a prosecutor or a police officer. The court would thoroughly explain the device’s operation, terms, and conditions to the habitual offender.

Failure to comply with the terms and conditions would be deemed an offense, punishable by imprisonment for up to three years. Additionally, any tampering with or destruction of the device would result in imprisonment not exceeding three years but not less than one year, along with a fine of one million rupees. Offenders would also be held liable for any damage caused to the monitoring device as a result of their actions, as specified in the bill.

Section 5 of the law mandates that habitual offenders seek prior permission from the officer in charge of the relevant police station before leaving their permanent place of residence. They must also inform the officer of their intended destinations and the individuals they plan to meet during their stay.

In addition to the passage of “The Sindh Habitual Offenders Monitoring Bill, 2022”, the House also approved the Sindh Explosive Bill 2019, which facilitates the issuance of licenses for mining and mineral excavation within the province.

During the session, the issue of kidnappings for ransom took the centre-stage, with opposition MPA Nand Kumar Goklani demanding an army operation against the dacoits. Goklani, a lawmaker of the Grand Democratic Alliance, submitted a call attention notice regarding the matter, questioning the chief minister, who also holds the home department portfolio, about the number of kidnapping cases reported in the past year and the government’s efforts in securing their release.

Goklani raised concerns over the deteriorating security situation, highlighting instances where dacoits in the riverine areas of Kashmore and Kandhkot targeted even the police. He further shed light on incidents of extortion and kidnappings for ransom, leading to the migration of Hindu community members from the rural areas.

In response, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Mukesh Kumar Chawla informed the House that the police had successfully secured the release of the three members of the Hindu community who had been kidnapped. Chawla assured the house that the SHO and two police officers who were abducted by dacoits in Kashmore district would be freed soon. Additionally, the issue of cotton support price was raised by ruling PPP MPA Imdad Pitafi, who called for an increase in its support price.

Later, the session was adjourned until Monday.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2023.

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