Warrants for Dawn newsman’s arrest
18/96 under sections 420, 469, 470, 471 and 505, was registered on the complaint of the superintendent of jail, Afaq Hussain Rizvi after the correspondent’s story, coupled with photographers, dated July 24, 1996 appeared in Dawn. The photographs showed under trail prisoners in bar and cross-bar fetters in their barracks.
Mr. Khan had obtained pre-arrest hail from Sindh High Court, Karachi, on Aug 2, 1996. Justice Amanullah Abbasi of SHC, Hyderabad Circuit confirmed the bail, on Aug 13, 1996.
While showing the bailable warrants to Mr Khan on Tuesday, the bailiff of the court accepted personal bond saying: “I am releasing you on my personal surety.” He told the correspondent that hearings were being held for the last several months but he (the correspondent) was not attending the court.
The journalist informed the bailiff of the pre-arrest bail, granted by the SHC in 1996 and told him that he was not intimated by the Baldia police station about the submission of the challan of the case.
It may be recalled here that the then governor of Sindh, Kamaluddin Azfar, had appointed the provincial ombudsman, Justice Salahuddin Mirza, to investigate the use of fetters on prisoners as claimed in Mr Khan’s story. Though the ombudsman’s findings were not made public in full, certain leading newspapers, including Dawn obtained and published excerpts from his report which endorsed the contents of the correspondent’s story.
The ombudsman’s report had also led to the suspension of Major Ghulam Hussain Khoso, the then chief of Hyderabad jail.
It was understood that the case against the correspondent had been dropped but Baldia police secretly submitted the charge sheet in the court of the judicial magistrate on Dec 3, 1998 – two years and five months after the publication of his dispatch story.
According to the legal procedure, an accused has to be informed and produced before the time of submission of challan, was ignored as Mr. Khan was kept in the dark