Dear Mr Chief Justice, why are you allowing extrajudicial killings?

Regards from, a common citizen today who may also become an ‘alleged criminal’ tomorrow and be killed by the police.

Ali Thair September 07, 2012
Dear Mr Chief Justice,

The entire nation knows how you refused to bow down before a military dictator, and helped establish the rule of law in this country. We know how your courageous actions led to the revival of democracy in our country and the independence of the judiciary. Ever since your position was restored, you have taken suo-motu notice of many actions, and have done a commendable job at scrutinising the executive under the Supreme Court's inherent powers of judicial review, such as the Balochistan law and order case.

I thus take this opportunity, to bring to your notice, the sudden rise in extrajudicial killings in the province of Punjab by the Punjab Police. According to data collected from various sources, including police records and media reports, at least 124 ‘alleged’ gangsters have been killed in 147 encounters in only this year. Although Sir, this may fall under the ambit of self-defence, is this kind of self-defence really proportional to the crime ‘allegedly’ being committed?

Sir, in modern democracies, and all of the European Union, capital punishment has been banished, however in our country we are moving in the opposite direction. Under the military regime, despite its downsides, not half as many extrajudicial killings took place, as in the democratic regime.

Sir, as you have stood for the rule of law in this country on numerous occasions, I would request that you to take notice of these extrajudicial killings as they undermine not only the rule of law, the role of the state, but also the institution of the judiciary - the sole institution that should be able to serve capital punishments. The police force is created to investigate, they are not authorised to decide which criminal should be brought to justice by being killed. Under our constitution, actions such as these constitute murder and are in violation of the liberty to live.

Sir, I would also like to remind you, that you took notice of the Sarfraz Shah murder, killed by 'off-duty' rangers constables, and that the law under this precedent should treat the murders by the Punjab police as no different. I do not support criminals, in fact as under our constitution capital punishment is allowed, criminals once convicted should be sent to the gallows, but it is at the discretion of the courts that such a sentence be carried out, not of the police. No matter how just or unavoidable they may deem their decision to be, they are not authorised to serve punishments.

The Punjab police, in its defence have stated that these encounters are necessary as the criminals are acquitted by the courts. All around the world the evidential burden to prove beyond reasonable doubt is on the prosecution and the defendant has to be presumed innocent. So when the police states that the alleged ‘criminal’ is acquitted in court procedures, does that not show a lack of proof on the police's (prosecution) side? It is nor the defendant's fault and nor the court's that the police were not able to provide enough evidence post investigation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was at fault.

Every human being has the right to life and a fair trial, and this is endorsed by the law in Pakistan. Who would know this better than you Sir, the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan?

In conclusion, I will like to request Mr Chief Justice to take action regarding extrajudicial killings. Please stop our police force from becoming brute murderers.


A common citizen today who runs the risk of becoming an ‘alleged criminal’ tomorrow.

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Ali Thair A law student, studying at Szabist (Karachi) in the University of London International LLB Program. He tweets @AliTahirArain
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