LAHORE: While the city’s courts have stepped up the processing of bail applications in recent days so prisoners involved in minor offences can celebrate Eid with their families, the prisoners complain that police officials at the courts are exploiting the situation to extract bribes.
Some 1,100 bail petitions, most of them for post-arrest bail, have been filed at the Cantonment, Model Town, District and Sessions Courts on Friday and Saturday, The Express Tribune has learnt. More than 100 have already been decided.
Several judges at these courts told The Tribune that they speeded up the processing of bail applications during the last week of Ramazan so that those in jail for bailable offences could celebrate Eid with their families. They said that the procedure usually took eight to 10 days, while they were currently processing bail petitions in two to three days.
District and Sessions Judge Mujahid Mustaqeem Ahmed said that he had released more than 150 prisoners from the camp and district jails and would release more in the days before Eid.
But prisoners at the Model Town courts accused the police officials at the bakhshi khana of extortion, saying they were demanding bribes to allow them to meet family members and to produce them in court for bail hearings.
Muhammad Nawaz said that police officials at the Model Town Courts had asked him for Rs500 to meet his son Haider at the bakhshi khana. “I am a poor man so I could only afford to give them Rs200,” he said. “I am old and ill and can’t work anymore. I need my son’s support.”
Nawaz said that his son had been arrested after he had taken a man who had been in a road accident to General Hospital. “The police arrested him at the hospital,” he said.
Prisoner Akram Masih said that police officials were demanding a bribe to produce him before a judge for his bail hearing.
Muhammad Yaseen, who is in charge of the Model Town Courts bakhshi khana, denied that the guards were involved in extortion. “No one is taking bribes. Sometimes prisoners are not produced in court because there is a shortage of handcuffs,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.