LAHORE - The Supreme Court and the Lahore High Court last week heard the cases of child abductions from various cities of Punjab. The SC held proceedings on a suo motu notice while LHC took up the matter on a petition seeking security for the schoolchildren.

Punjab police confessed its failure before both the constitutional courts, and pledged to take extra measures to provide security to the children. The police department, through a law officer, told the apex court that 139 children out of 310 had been recovered. The law officer said that the remaining children would soon be recovered as the police were making serious efforts.

The Punjab government, however, denied involvement of any gang in the sale of children’ organs/body parts and said that social media was spreading rumours in the society which caused a sense of fear among the parents of the children. The SC bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, expressed serious concerns and urged the people not to trust the social media.

King Edward Medical University’s vice chancellor Dr Faisal Masood apprised the court that the organ extraction among children of five-year or below was not possible. He said removing kidney from children of up to five-year-old was useless. “A removed kidney is required to be transplanted within 45 minutes, which is not possible in such cases,” the VC said.

At this, the bench asked the civil society and NGOs to play their role to discourage such people who were involved in spreading rumors. The judge also asked the media to avoid from sensationalising the issue. The court sought detailed report from the AGP on the matter and put off further hearing till September 16.

At the LHC, the Punjab government through a law officer said that boundary walls of 4000 public, and 2000 private schools of category “A” and “A plus” were raised and barbed wire were installed over them. The law officer said that security personnel were also deputed at these schools.

Police said that they were trying their best to recover the missing children. LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah summoned the AGP to apprise the court about lacunas in organ transplant act. The CJ ordered the public and private schools to appoint security guards in vans and rickshaws of school-going children for their security and ordered the police to monitor the vans.

The CJ passed the order after the petitioner through his strong arguments convinced the court that the situation aggravated due to police failure. Later, AGP Shakilur Rehman said that the government was taking practical steps for recovery of missing children and positive results would be gained. In Lahore, he said, the investigation teams were being monitored and being provided legal assistance. He added the media should also report on this topic with responsibility. “We are devising a strategy for publishing pictures of missing children.”

Interestingly, the police stance was different before the courts as on the second hearing of the case of child abductions, it told the SC that 139 children were missing and now it said that 139 children out of 310 were recovered and the remaining would soon be recovered.

Police, over and again, told the courts that children were gone missing but could not come up with any report about who was behind their disappearance. On the second hearing before the apex court, the police stated that most of the children ran away from their homes and that they were not kidnapped while the figures it presented before the courts showed as if police were working only to control children’ kidnapping in the province.

So far, not even a single culprit has been traced out in this case. The SC would resume the hearing on September 16, and it is hoped that police would come up with some clue about the culprits.

During last week, the LHC also decided the case regarding the old schedule for holding election of reserved seats of local government in Punjab. The court set aside the old schedule and directed the election commission to issue a fresh schedule. PML-Q had challenged holding election for reserved seats of the local governments on the basis of old schedule.

Advocate Mubeen Qazi, the party’s counsel had argued that the provincial government withdrew amendments previously made in the local government law and cases against the amendments were disposed of by the court.

After the decision of the case, he said, the elections were to be held as per the law prevalent on Aug 26, 2015; however, the election commission instead of issuing fresh election schedule only announced the date of the polling.

The counsel held that the ECP earlier announced the schedule by adopting the amendments in law on the basis of enhanced number of seats, which amendment had been withdrawn and same schedule could not be used for reduced number of seats.

He said that under the said schedule, the submission of nomination papers was to commence from Jan 20, 2016, on which date the law was again amended and the mode of filling up the reserved seats was changed from indirect elections to the proportional representation system as per the political parties list.

Advocate Qazi stated that a large number of candidates especially the candidates of the political parties are being deprived of their valuable rights to contest / participate in the elections of the reserved seats due to inefficiency and acts of the ECP. He said without maximum participation in the elections, the objective of democracy could not be achieved.

The ECP through its counsel had argued that the holding the election on the basis of old schedule would not affect the election process.

During the week, the LHC also disposed of a petition of four retired teachers after finance department undertook to refund deduction made in the double pension of the petitioners.

Also, the Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) last week suspended practicing licenses of 199 advocates for either having fake or not having degrees of law. A special scrutiny committee of the bar council took the decision after the advocates failed to submit their educational degrees.

The Lahore High Court Bar Association was also seen very active as it called for action against MQM leaders on sedition charges and cancelation of the party’s registration. Speaking at a general house meeting of the bar on Wednesday, lawyers said MQM chief Altaf Hussain and other party leaders exposed their real faces through anti-Pakistan speeches. They also demanded of the election commission to cancel registration of the MQM for its involvement in anti-state activities.