KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday directed the provincial authorities to establish women rescue police centres in every division of the province and to release the sanctioned amount of Rs145 million for the safe houses for women.
The two-judge SHC bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar also directed the provincial finance secretary to ensure that Rs200m, sanctioned for children protection authority, must be released within a month.
The bench also asked the finance secretary that Rs145m for safe houses be released within a week and in case of non-compliance he would expose himself to contempt of court proceedings.
It further observed that looking into the gravity of the issue, the authorities concerned with the assistance of the secretary for the women development department must set up women rescue police at divisional level and the same should be commanded by women senior superintendents of police.
The women SSPs must work independently in coordination with the women development department, the bench said and added that till new recruitment, the women police officers and constables be separated and trained in accordance with the guidelines of status of women commission and the women development secretary.
As for a permanent mechanism, the bench was informed that all the issues related to women would be brought under one umbrella and addressed within three to four months and a committee in that regard be constituted which would comprise the secretaries of the women development and social welfare departments.
The women development secretary submitted that a model women and children protection centre had been established by the Sindh police and eight more such centres in other parts of the province had also been notified.
The bench directed the provincial police officer to file a compliance report in that regard at the next hearing.
It also asked the orphanage board to ensure the registration of all private orphanages.
The SHC through a judgement in 2016 in the Rehmat Bibi case had ordered the provincial authorities to set up safe houses and rescue centres for women in the province, particularly for the protection of women after they contracted free-will marriages.
In a previous hearing, the provincial authorities informed the bench that Rs145m had been allocated for 29 safe houses for women in the province.
Earlier, the bench also ordered that all issues pertaining to women be dealt with by one department with complete autonomy as previously the status of women commission, social welfare and women development were dealing with such issues.