Beyond protocol: Court tells IG to identify, punish false accusers

Chief justice asks contractor to cooperate with police, sees no reason for educated man to go to prison.


Express August 10, 2011

LAHORE:


The Lahore High Court has directed the inspector general (IG) of Punjab Police to find out which police officials registered false cases against a petitioner, and the petitioner to cooperate with another policy inquiry into charges that he had overcharged on a contract with the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP).


On Wednesday, the advocate general and the IG appeared before Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry on a petition accusing the TDCP of lodging false cases against the contractor, architect Azam Saeed.

Both officials confirmed that two cases had been registered against Saeed at the behest of the chief minister, on charges that he had caused a loss to the national exchequer by not completing the project to develop PIA Park at Kashmir Point near Chief Minister’s House in Murree on time.

Both also said that they did not know where the other cases against the petitioner had originated. The IG said that he had set up an investigation committee to find out.

The chief justice told the provincial police chief to report to the court on September 13 and to not take any action against the petitioner until then.

He said that the IG had to take action against the police officials who had registered false cases against the petitioner, however senior they may be. He asked the IG why the police normally seemed unable or unwilling to go after murderers, while here the entire district police was actively pursuing a contractor.

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that the false cases had been lodged against the petitioner at the behest of “authorities” that had wanted their own men hired as sub-contractors for the project, but been denied by his client.

He said Saeed was willing to return any money that he had been deemed to overcharge. The chief justice told the petitioner to cooperate with the investigation of the two cases. He said that if the petitioner was willing to refund the alleged extra cost, he saw no reason to jail an educated man.

In his petition, Saeed said that he and his partner Engr Kamran Gul had been contracted to develop PIA Park in July 2009. After he started the job, TDCP officials claiming to be associated with Chief Minister’s House came to him and demanded a cut of the profit, as well as jobs for their men as sub-contractors, he said.

He refused and they pressured the TDCP to stop his payment, Saeed said. A cheque already issued by the department bounced, he said. The corporation unlawfully cancelled the contract on May 3, 2010, he said, without paying him the Rs6 million or returning Rs1.8 million he had deposited with the department as security.

TDCP officials also registered false cases against him and his partner, he said, and harassed his mother in Lahore. On July 6, 2011, a Rawalpindi court granted him and Gul bail, but they were re-arrested later the same day under a new FIR registered by the TDCP at Taxila police station.

He said he had been working as an architect on government and private projects for 15 years and had never committed any irregularities in his work.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2011.

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