IHC orders accountability of investigators in criminal cases

Published: June 13, 2019
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PHOTO: REUTERS

PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Police was admonished by a court on Wednesday for its poor investigation process and directed the federal capital’s top cop to ensure that the two investigators at the centre of a case appear in person before the court next week and explain why they should not be tried for fabricating and giving false evidence in murder cases.

This was directed by a single-member bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah as he heard appeals filed by two murder convicts Noor Hassan alias Noora and Syed Naseer Hashmi.

The two men had been sentenced to death in separate murder cases.

Hassan was sentenced for allegedly murdering a man and injuring another during a dacoity attempt in Shahzad Town. Hashmi, who had been arrested in a different case, was implicated in the dacoity and sentenced.

Chief Justice Minallah noted that full legal procedures were not followed while there were inconsistencies in the case and testimonies.

“This case reflects the consequence of bad and inefficient investigations, not carried out in a fair or professional manner and, rather, it raises serious doubts regarding the investigating officers’ fairness and honesty in investigating the crime,” he said, adding that in the criminal justice system, investigations have the most crucial status because they are the foundation for ensuring that the actual perpetrators of a crime are prosecuted and sentenced after proving their guilt with certainty.

“The lack of accountability of investigating officers, particularly when people are sent for trial without conducting proper, fair and honest investigations, has serious implications for the society and the rights of the citizens to remain safe from being exposed to crime,” CJ Minallah added.

“It is an onerous duty of an investigating officer to identify the perpetrator by collecting and analysing evidence in a fair and honest manner,” CJ Minallah stated.

In the order, the IHC chief justice noted that “investigations carried out by an investigating officer and the evidence brought on record is the basis for holding an Investigating Officer accountable.

Accountability of an investigating officer is of paramount importance in the criminal justice system so as to ensure that an innocent person does not suffer the agony of losing the fundamental right of free movement and to be dealt with as accused.”

CJ Minallah added that both the officials who had conducted investigations in the case, Sub-Inspector Mohammad Akbar and Sub-Inspector Mansoor Ahmed had deposed falsely on oath and had fabricated evidence so as to ensure the conviction of the appellants.

The court issued notices to the Inspector General of Islamabad Police to ensure the ensuring personal appearance of the two police officers before the court on June 18 and to show why proceeding against them should not be initiated for the presenting false evidence and fabricating evidence.

Further, the court set aside the convictions and sentences handed down to both the appellants and consequently acquitted them because the prosecution had failed to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

IHC rejects Sikander’s appeal

The IHC has rejected an appeal filed by Malik Muhammed Sikander, the infamous Constitution Avenue standoff suspect, against his sentence.

On August 15, 2013, Sikander had driven to the upscale Blue Area in the federal capital and parked in the middle of the Constitution Avenue. Armed with two sub-machine guns, he had opened fire at the police and held his wife and two children hostage. The widely televised hostage drama ended after six hours due to the intervention of Zamarud Khan.

Sikander was shot and injured in the incident before being arrested by the police.

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had convicted Sikandar in May 2017 and sentenced him to 18 years in prison. However, he appealed his sentence.

A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah comprising Justice Miangul Hasan Aurangzeb issued a 20-page long verdict on Tuesday after reserving it on March 13.

The court rejected Sikander’s appeal because the prosecution had successfully proved its case.

The court further observed in its verdict that the trial court did not put light on the reason for the short duration of the sentence while the federation also did not appeal against it which was upsetting. The court could not increase the duration of sentence on its own unless someone appealed against it.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2019.

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