ISLAMABAD : The Supreme Court lashed out against the PTI-led Punjab government for using political clout in manipulating police affairs.
The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a suo motu case about the summoning and the transfer of Pakpattan’s former District Police Officer (DPO) Rizwan Umar Gondal.
It raised various questions over the linkage of a ‘stranger’, named Jameel Gujjar, with Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar.
The CJP asked why Gujjar was involved in this matter and what his relationship was with the Maneka family.
“Who are you? Stand up!” the CJP angrily told Jameel Gujjar when calling him to rostrum.
When the bench asked about his relationship with the CM and Maneka family, Gujjar maintained that he was an ‘unofficial guardian’ of Maneka’s children and he had gone to the CM House as a “citizen of this country”.
“Don’t tell lies. You think that you are politically influential, capable of interfering in police affairs,” the chief justice angrily reprimanded him.
It has already been reported that Ahsan Jameel Gujjar is married to one of Bushra Bibi’s friends.
According to testimony of the former DPO Pakpattan, Gujjar was sitting with the CM Punjab when he was summoned to Lahore and he (Gujjar) had addressed him in an ‘overbearing manner’.
The DPO had stated that Gujjar had asked him why he had not gone to Manika’s residence to offer apologies despite repeatedly being instructed to do so.
During the hearing, Khawar Maneka, his daughter also appeared before the bench.
DPO Rizwan Gondal and Regional Police Officer (RPO) Shariq Kamal submitted affidavits and confirmed the above mentioned facts.
But Gujjar denied both police officers’ claims, insisting that his tone was not threatening during that meeting.
Two staff officers of the CM Punjab did not confirm that the instructions for transferring the former DPO had originated from the CM secretariat.
In view of all these discrepancies in statements, the court directed Inspector-General of Punjab Police to conduct an inquiry into the allegedly politically-motivated transfer of Pakpattan DPO Rizwan Gondal.
The bench in its order asked the IG Punjab to probe the alleged political interference by a ‘stranger’ (Jameel Gujjar) in the presence of the CM Punjab and submit a report in this regard within a week.
The court also urged the IGP to take appropriate action if the offence was confirmed.
Expressing complete mistrust over police officials’ integrity, Jameel Gujjar requested the judiciary to probe the matter. However, the court rejected his request.
“I am seriously thinking to serve a notice on the Chief Minister Punjab, applying Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution. The CM should appear personally to answer all queries”, the CJP said.
But he said that he did not know what his colleagues (Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan) thought of this matter.
Advocate-General of Punjab Shan Gul told the bench that he had been instructed by the CM to convey to the bench that he had summoned the former DPO in good faith to redress the grievances of the Maneka family, insisting that the matter should be resolved in an amicable manner in accordance with local tribal traditions.
In response, Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that Pakistan was a democratic country and it worked under laws and did not follow norms of a tribal society.
He said that the CM should be informed about the intricacies of the law. “This is not a tribal society.”
During the hearing, Khawar Maneka narrated the incident of how his daughter was stopped by ‘drunk’ police officials on the night of August 5.
He insisted that a conspiracy in this matter could not be ruled out.
The CJP said: “I express remorse on behalf of the nation and police. We jealously guard the sanctity of daughters.”
According to the bench, the possibility of misbehaviour by police officials could not be ruled out.
They also said that they were aware of the DPO’s past conduct and if he was found guilty, he should not only be transferred but also suspended.
Elaborating about Jameel Gujjar, Maneka told the court that he had been a family friend since 1998 and he also had a “spiritual relationship” with his family.
The court also took strong exception over the intervention of the ISI officer, Col Tariq, in the matter.
But Col Tariq said that he had contacted Gondal in his personal capacity as a friend, contending that he never asked him to visit Maneka and apologise.
“You must be careful. What is ISI’s role in administrative affairs?” the CJP cautioned,
adding that even his bosses would have been unaware about his interference in ‘personal capacity’.
At the outset, the bench expressed chagrin over the IG Punjab’s overnight move to transfer the DPO Pakpattan on mere oral instructions.
“What was the urgency of transferring him at night?” the CJP asked the IG Punjab.
The court also asked him to explain why he had not taken any notice of those who had asked police officers to apologise.
The chief justice reminded him that he had asked police officers to work independently and discount political influence.
About the report submitted by Additional Inspector-General Police Abubakar Khudabakhsh, the bench noted that it had no intention to intervene in police reports about the incidents of August 5 and 23.
“Let appropriate actions be taken on (these) police reports,” the court stated in its order.
According to a police inquiry report, the Pakpattan incident could have been averted if then DPO Rizwan Gondal had not been negligent in performing his duties.
“Had he taken proper notice of the first incident and identified the actual nature of the problem, the misunderstanding between the complainant and the district police could have been averted. However, no step was taken till August 23 after a lapse of 18 days,” the report said.