LHC expunges ‘stigmatising’ remarks by judicial magistrate

Petitioner says magistrate’s observation was influenced by departmental order


Rana Yasif September 01, 2020
A Reuters file image

LAHORE:

Lahore High Court’s Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh has expunged remarks made by a judicial magistrate in his judgment against a petitioner on the basis of a departmental authority’s order that had been suspended by the superior court later.

“These remarks would not only adversely affect the petitioner’s future prospects but also stigmatised him forever,” the LHC judge stated in his judgment. The magistrate, in his judgment, had remarked that “it is a case of embezzlement of salaries and criminal breach of trust by the complainant who just in order to digest (sic) the said amount had lodged false FIR regarding dacoity. During his departmental inquiry when he found no way to get rid of the allegation, he falsely nominated the accused persons and the investigation of IO is also not fair”.

Petitioner Syed Mohsin Abbas contended that the impugned remarks were not only unjustified but unnecessary for the decision of the case. He maintained that in making the observation the magistrate was primarily influenced by the departmental authority’s order, which was wrong. The order was passed without a regular inquiry, he contended.

Justice Tariq Saleem maintained that when a magistrate or a Judge decides to condemn a person who is a party to the proceedings or a witness, he must put the facts on which animadversion is intended to be based before that person and afford him an opportunity to explain his position. Admittedly, the petitioner was not afforded any such opportunity, the order maintained.

The petitioner had filed a plea seeking deletion of disparaging remarks made against him by the magistrate while delivering the judgment on March 25, 2017 in a case registered on April 6, 2012 at Civil Lines police station, Bahawalpur, under sections 395, 412 and 109 PPC.

The petitioner, who was the complainant in the FIR, was an emergency medical technician in Rescue-1122, Yazman, and was temporarily working as account assistant. He stated that on April 6,2012 he along with Muhammad Kashif, account assistant, Ayaz Hussain, security guard and driver drew Rs1,692,736 from the State Bank of Pakistan, Bahawalpur, for payment of salaries to the employees of Rescue 1122. When he returned two armed men barged into his office and took away the money, he alleged. The petitioner nominated Adnan Qayyum, Hassan Ali and others in the FIR, alleging that they had committed the dacoity at the behest of another respondent, Ziaur Rehman. Only Ziaur Rehman attended all the hearings, while the other accused were declared proclaimed offenders.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 1st, 2020.

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