Mr.Justice Gulzar Ahmed 24 June 2020
Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan,
Constitution Avenue, G-5/2 Islamabad,
+92 5192 20 581-600
Request for Suo Motu notice
against Government orders that violate fundamental rights and promote Inequality, Discrimination, Violence, Militancy and Private Armies.
On 21 August 2019, Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan issued S.R.O (1)/ 2019 (copy attached), lifting the ban on issuance of licenses of prohibited bore weapons for nine specific categories of individuals. Of these the first seven are Constitutional Office Holders, i.e. President, Prime Minister, Chairman Senate, Speaker NA, Governors, Chief Ministers, Federal Ministers and Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts. These Constitutional Office Holders can now acquire lethal weapons of prohibited bore category, provided that the weapons are either gifted to them or procured from the Pakistan Ordnance Factories.
- Article 25 of the Constitution mandates that all citizens are equal before law and entitled to equal protection of law. The R.O (1)/ 2019 dated 21 August 2019 however blatantly violates this principle as it discriminates citizens on the basis of the position or office that they hold. This SRO is designed specifically to suit and favour a special category of already highly protected and privileged individuals. Hence S.R.O (1)/ 2019 dated 21 August 2019 is illegal, discriminatory, and in violation of fundamental rights of citizens.
- The first seven categories of persons mentioned in the notification are constitutional office holders and include the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. As per their respective oath of office / third schedule to the Constitution, they must abide by the Constitution and the law and act without favour. This aspect of ‘acting without favour’ is hugely compromised if they are legally allowed to start receiving gifts, which is a polite term for bribes. The S.R.O (1)/ 2019 dated 21 August 2019, by permitting receipt of gifts of prohibited bore weapons by Constitutional Office Holders, legalizes bribery. It is now possible for a gun smuggler to bribe a judge or any of the seven Constitutional Office Holders with an illegal weapon and the same will become ‘kosher’ as the SRO permits the acceptance of such gifts. The SRO therefore opens a huge window of opportunity of legal bribe for our top Constitutional Office Holders, who can now receive illegal gifts and make them legal by quoting this SRO. Would it not have been better to have an SRO that prohibited all constitutional office holders from accepting any gift or demanded that they be deposited in ‘Toha Khana’ with information on the presenter of the lethal killing machine.
- R.O (1)/ 2019 dated 21 August 2019 also acts to promote and proliferate weapons and private armies in Pakistan. It erodes the government’s legal and moral authority in tackling the spread of weapons by encouraging the spread of yet more lethal, prohibited bore weapons amongst its elite office holders.
- Not to be left behind, the Senate of Pakistan on 8 June 2020, unanimously passed a similar highly discriminatory and unlawful resolution for issuance of prohibited bore weapons for all Parliamentarians and grade 20 and above officers. Your Honour, you will appreciate that by 2011, as confirmed in the Parliament by the then Interior Minister, the Pakistani Parliament had already been issued 69473 licenses for prohibited bore weapons. This unchecked, insatiable and illegal greed of our rulers must be brought to an end.
- From R.O (1)/ 2019 dated 21 August 2019 and the Senate resolution of 8 June 2020, one can only conclude that the Pakistani rulers and Constitutional Office Holders are bent upon making discriminatory laws that enable a ruling class to stockpile lethal weapons and form private armies and militias. This is also a gross violation of Article 256 of the Constitution, which categorically prohibits formation of private armies.
- Protection of life and property is the responsibility of the state. Issuance of gun licenses is not constitutionally binding but a discretionary and discriminatory act, often used as bribe or appeasement to friends, relatives or people of influence. Those who do not have the influence or the status to get gun licenses, do so by resorting to procurement of illegal weapons. The estimated total number of guns (both licit and illicit) held by civilians in Pakistan has risen to 43,917,000 as reported by “Estimating Global Civilian-Held Firearms Numbers. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, 2018”, https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/pakistan
7. Worldwide data on gun ownership has unmistakably shown a direct correlation between guns and violence. Nothing could illustrate this better than USA, which experienced 283 mass shootings in 2019. On the other hand Japan and UK are perfect examples of negligible gun violence because their governments do not allow citizens to possess or carry weapons. The Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the Suo Motu case 16 of 2011 directed the Sindh Government in these words, “Karachi is full of arms and ammunition of prohibited and non-prohibited bores including licensed and illicit, therefore, Karachi has to be cleansed from all kinds of weapons by adhering to the laws available on the subject, and if need be, by promulgating new legislation.” His orders still await implementation.
It is respectfully prayed that the Honorable Chief Justice of the Supreme Court may please take a Suo Motu notice of this matter and order the following:
- The R.O (1)/ 2019 dated 21 August 2019, be set aside, as discriminatory and violative of Article 25 of the Constitution.
- The Senate Resolution of 8 June 2020 seeking issuance of prohibited bore licenses for all Parliamentarians and Grade 20 and above officers be set aside, as discriminatory and violative of Article 25 of the Constitution.
- The government be directed to stop further issuance of all types of gun licenses, as it is the responsibility of the state to protect the life and property of its citizens.
- Order all constitutional office holders to deposit in “Tosha Khana”, any weapon that they might have received as a gift.
- The government be directed to withdraw all gun licenses of prohibited and non-prohibited bore weapons, held by public at large, and demand surrender and buy-back of all prohibited and non-prohibited bore weapons, as was done by other countries like UK, Australia and New Zealand.
- The government be directed to task the armed forces and police to implement a nation-wide de-weaponisation programme to recover all legal and illegal weapons that may still be held by public after the expiry of the deadline date. The government be also directed to firmly proceed, if need be, by promulgating new legislation, against all those who do not surrender their weapons or disband their private armies by the deadline date announced by the government.
A citizen of Pakistan.