ISLAMABAD: The Balochistan government on Monday told the Supreme Court point-blank that it never promised to provide jobs to the heirs of those who were killed in a suicide blast in Quetta on Aug 8last year.
“Not only lawyers but journalists and police officials also lost their lives when the carnage visited Quetta,” argued Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani before a three-judge SC bench.
Who would determine the true legal heirs of the deceased lawyers when there was infighting among brothers for government service or compensation money, the law officer wondered. The provincial government could consider compensating only the widow or the father of the deceased lawyer, he added.
Mr Kinrani said the list provided to the provincial government for giving jobs to the heirs contained the names of 46 brothers of the deceased lawyers.
The court had taken up a follow-up case on a critical report by one-man inquiry commission of Justice Qazi Faez Isa on the Quetta Civil Hospital carnage in which at least 74 people, including lawyers, had lost their lives.
In the report, the commission had highlighted the need for proscribing terrorist organisations without any delay by enforcing the Anti-Terrorism Act in letter and spirit. The report had also touched upon the general callous disregard for human life by doctors and other healthcare staff. The absence of doctors and other staff of the Sandeman Provincial Hospital, Quetta, where the suicide bomber had struck, contributed to the misery of the victims, some of whom undoubtedly perished for not receiving timely treatment, it said.
In one of the previous hearings, the apex court had asked the provincial government to highlight steps taken to rectify the situation that should include upgrade of the Sandeman Hospital, give details regarding payment of compensation to the heirs of the deceased lawyers, reasons for not setting up endowment fund to meet educational needs of the children of the victims, expenses so far made for the treatment of the lawyers who got injured in the incident, employment of one member of every victim family and housing scheme for them, etc.
But Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who headed the bench on Monday, seemed to be in agreement with the provincial government’s stance when he observed that government jobs should not be doled out disregarding merit.
“We are not going to repeat what politicians do by giving jobs to favourites and near and dear ones,” Justice Khosa said, adding that if government jobs were distributed just like that, it would create a race or a chaos among the heirs of the deceased.
The country would progress only if government services were given on merit to the most deserving, the bench said, adding that the apex court would not intervene in such matters, otherwise fingers would be pointed at it with accusations of encroaching upon the domain of other institutions.
The court ordered the lawyers’ bodies to submit to the provincial government a trust deed within a month for creating the endowment fund for the welfare of the legal heirs.
The court also ordered the transfer of five acres of land, earlier allocated for the legal heirs of the deceased lawyers, to the Balochistan Bar Council.
It directed the government to initiate development work so that plots could be awarded to the legal heirs as soon as possible after their demarcation.
On Monday, Advocate Hamid Khan, who appeared on behalf of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association, said a specially-constituted committee consisting of judges of the Balochistan High Court as well as the provincial bar council had taken up the issue of granting jobs among the legal heirs of the deceased lawyers. He said a trust deed of the legal heirs should be prepared for the efficient utilisation of the endowment fund in future.
During the proceedings, the court expressed dismay over the delay in rehabilitation of the trauma centre and asked the doctors’ community to do their job devotedly or vacate the position if they did not want to perform, especially when the country was facing an emergency-like situation.
The court also asked the provincial government to submit its reply to an application moved to highlight the targeting of the Hazara community in Balochistan.
The court will resume the hearing on Oct 27.