LAHORE: The police continue to ignore their duty to register First Information Reports (FIRs), as highlighted by a recent rash of cases where victims of crime have complained of law enforcers’ ‘scepticism’.
The complainants have similar police station experiences. FIRs are not registered unless the complainant greases the palm of the officer on duty or finds someone influential to press his case. Cases rarely get registered on the first complaint, with many requiring repeated visits to the police station.
The officer on duty does not lodge an FIR without the approval of the station house officer (SHO). Sometimes the SHO seeks the superintendent of police’s (SP) approval before lodging an FIR. Even a direct court order can be insufficient to compel the police to register a case.
Take the case of Shagufta Parveen, who says her house in Baghbanpura was taken over by land grabbers in July. She approached the police, but they plainly refused to take action or even register an FIR. So she turned to the courts, and on September 21, an additional district and sessions judge ordered Baghbanpura police to register an FIR on her complaint.
The police did not do so. Parveen’s lawyer Surayya Farzand Chaudhry told The Express Tribune that she would push for contempt of court proceedings against the concerned police officials.
On November 6, Muslim Town police refused to register an FIR against Islami Jamiat Tulaba (IJT) members for thrashing a Punjab University student.
The complainant, Waqas Tahir, told The Express Tribune that after repeated trips to the police station an FIR was registered.
But it was three days after the incident, and even then the police sealed the FIR and refused to give him a copy.
Shahdara police station has been the subject of three complaints in the last two weeks about the non-registration of FIRs.
A woman told officers at Shahdara police station on October 27 that she had been raped by three men including an assistant sub inspector. The police refused to believe her, registering an FIR only after they received a phone call from the Chief Minister’s Complaint Cell.
Shahdara police also refused to register an FIR on October 31 when Moallam Din of Kot Shahabuddin reported his motorcycle stolen. Din said the police were delaying registration and not bothering to find the stolen motorbike.
And on October 14, Shahdara police failed to register a case against a man accused of molesting a child. Akbar Bajwa, the victim’s father, told The Express Tribune that he had eventually managed to get the police to register an FIR with the help of an influential; person of the area.
Muhammad Azhar Siddique, an advocate, said that it was clear that there had not been an improvement in police services or attitude, despite their salaries being doubled. “The police have kept their title of ‘most reviled department’ in the country,” he said.
“The staff posted at police stations is particularly bad. It is due to their behaviour that many people simply don’t lodge their FIRs. They want to avoid the hassle of dealing with the police.”
Shahdara SHO Sharif Sindhu said that the accusation that police were slow in registering FIRs was unfair. “We try to ascertain the authenticity of the allegations made. This process may take some time, but once the commission of an offence has been established, there is no delay in registering FIRs,” he said.
City Division SP Faisal Gulzar told The Express Tribune that police officials were under clear instructions to register FIRs without delay and not to summon or arrest anybody until a case had been registered. He said if the police officials in his division were not registering FIRs, complainants should tell him about it.
“If police officials are delaying FIRs, they will be penalised,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2010.
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