PHC orders removing number plates from vehicles bearing names of departments, professions

peshawar high court

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has issued a directive to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government, instructing them to remove any number plates affixed to private vehicles that bear the names of departments, professions, or members of specific communities.

The ruling, delivered by a single-member bench presided over by Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, stipulates that private vehicles should not display number plates indicating the owner’s profession or community.

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This decision stemmed from a hearing on the bail plea of a suspect, Sikander Azam, involved in a narcotics trafficking case. The individual had attached a plate to his Vigo double-cabin vehicle bearing the inscription “Member Peshawar High Court Bar Council.”

Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim rejected Azam’s bail plea, noting that none of the occupants of the vehicle were members of any bar association or bar council. The court further observed that the suspects, under the guise of a fake legal profession number plate, were attempting to transport narcotics and were apprehended by the police.

Expressing concern over the matter, the bench highlighted instances where smugglers and criminals employed counterfeit number plates to facilitate activities such as narcotics trafficking. These individuals often utilised the names of various departments, including health, judiciary, lawyers, police, and excise departments, to evade law enforcement scrutiny during searches.

The court emphasised the need to address this illegal practice promptly, as it has the potential to tarnish the reputation of relevant departments or professions. Consequently, the directive mandates that individuals with number plates indicating any department or profession on their private vehicles, regardless of their affiliation with said entities, should face legal consequences. The court also ordered the immediate removal of such number plates from the vehicles.

Furthermore, the bench underscored that every vehicle, whether official or private, should only display number plates issued by the government. To ensure compliance, the court directed the additional registrar of the high court to disseminate copies of the order to key authorities, including the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary, inspector general of police, secretary and director general of the excise and taxation department, director general of prosecution, and secretary of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council.

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The directive comes as the petitioner, Sikander Azam, faces charges in an FIR registered at Choora police station in Mardan on September 5, 2023, under Section 11-C of the KP Control of Narcotics Substance Act. Barrister Mohammad Shah, an additional advocate general, detailed the circumstances leading to Azam’s arrest, highlighting the recovery of narcotics and forensic evidence supporting the prosecution’s case.

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