LAHORE: Expressing displeasure over interference in police affairs by elected representatives, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Sunday likened them to 'thugs'.
"You people become thugs outside the court but shed tears here," the chief justice remarked while reprimanding Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA Malik Karamat Khokhar and MPA Nadeem Abbas for allegedly influencing the police, sheltering criminal elements, and issuing false statements in court.
The remarks came during hearing of a case at the Lahore registry pertaining to illegal occupation of nine plots in Johar Town area of Lahore.
The case was filed by an overseas petitioner, Mahmood Ashraf, against a land grabber, Mansha Bam, accusing him of grabbing his property while police were reluctant to take action against the grabbers.
At the onset of the hearing, the chief justice inquired about the accused from the police, asking, "Who is Mansha Bam?"
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The chief justice then issued orders for the arrest of the culprit(s) and inquired who had called the police officer to ask for favours.
Superintendent Police (SP) Mohammad Maaz told the top judge that whenever the police took action against him on the court's direction, "we started receiving calls to stop the operation".
The police officer said the man, along with his sons, is accused of illegally occupying land in Johar Town.
"Mansha is part of a big land-grabbing group," he informed the court and added, "Seventy cases have been registered against him."
He accused PTI MNA Khokhar of influencing the police over the issue. The chief justice then summoned the MNA immediately.
"Since when has the PTI started behaving like thugs?" asked the chief justice.
"Did people vote for you for this? Are you going to make Naya Pakistan while helping thugs?" he added.
"Karamat Khokhar, you will not go back as an MNA if found guilty in today's inquiry," the Chief justice said and added, "I will not let any thug live in the country."
Khokhar denied knowing Mansha Bam. He said he had not called the SP but the deputy inspector general (DIG). At this, the chief justice summoned the DIG, adjourning the hearing briefly.
During the hearing, MPA Abbas broke into tears and alleged that the SP had framed him in false cases. He said he will resign from his position if proven guilty.
To this, Justice Nisar said: "Why don't you resign first?" and hastened to add, "Let me tell you why...because you lack the courage to do so."
"You people become thugs outside the court but shed tears here," the chief justice remarked and added that he will not allow any thug to reside in Pakistan.
Subsequently, Khokhar was issued a notice for lying in court, while he and Abbas both were summoned to the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Monday.
"Why don't we initiate contempt proceedings against you for your wrong testimony?" the chief justice asked Khokhar.
"You said in court you don't know who Mansha Bam is. Then why did you phone the DIG for the release of Bam's son?" the top judge asked the PTI leader.
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"I beg the court's pardon," Khokhar said, to which the chief justice responded: "Someone who lies cannot be sadiq and ameen. Your character is on display. If you lie to the people, how will you answer to them?" Justice Nisar asked.
"You should fear God. The people voted for you," the CJP told Khokhar.
Abbas begged the chief justice's forgiveness while at the rostrum. Justice Nisar asked him to also travel to Islamabad tomorrow (Monday). "We will see if you should be forgiven or not," he said.
"Bring your resignation letter with you, or I will write it for you," he added.
Model Town Carnage
The chief justice also summoned the record of under-trial cases related to the Model Town tragedy from an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore.
A two-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the case. During the proceedings, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Khurram Nawaz Gandapur also appeared before the bench.
The petitioner, Bisma, the daughter of a woman who lost her life during the tragedy, also appeared before the court, saying that the chief justice had ordered the ATC to pass verdict within three months.
She added that daily hearings have become counterproductive as all lawyers have withdrawn from the case.
Despite the order of the apex court, she added the trial was not being completed. She demanded that a decision was taken against the Lahore High Court's (LHC) rejection of appeals.
"The CJP maintained that action against LHC's rejection shall be undertaken after the passing of a verdict," she was quoted as saying.
On June 17, 2014, an operation against encroachments was launched in Lahore's Model Town area outside the residence of PAT Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri. That operation turned bloody, leaving 14 dead and dozens more injured.
Earlier this month, the LHC had rejected a petition that requested summoning the then prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Shehbaz Sharif in the case.