Court lockup: Police accused of extorting prisoners

Prisoners, lawyers say court staff in league with corrupt police officers.


Express September 06, 2011

LAHORE:


Police officials managing court lockups extort bribes from under-trial prisoners by claiming influence with court staff and promising desirable hearing dates, The Express Tribune has learnt.


Sources said that some of these policemen have contacts among court staff and can influence the dates of next hearing in absence of judges. They said readers, who set such sates, are often willing to help these police officers. Some prisoners at district courts, Model Town courts and Cantonment courts, said such police officials ensured that only those prisoners who paid them were called for early hearing.

Some lawyers too expressed similar concerns. They said that some of the police officials had been serving at bakhshi khanas for years and had developed good relations with readers who obliged them in the absence of judges.

They said that lawyers, seeking adjournment of hearing, also sought new dates through court staff.

Advocate Muhammad Asif Chattha said that the prisoners, willing to pay bribes, took advantage of the police officers’ closeness with readers. Recalling the case of Ameen alias Meena, who escaped from police custody at sessions court some eight months ago, Advocate Chattha said prisoners who paid bribes readily were clearly able to develop good relations with police officials. He said in some cases, the officials were known to have helped prisoners get mobile phones and illicit drugs. “Meena fed the officials with drugged drinks and fled after they became unconscious.” He said there were many such cases where prisoners played such tactics and escaped in broad day light, he said.

Court staffers The Tribune talked to at various courts, denied the allegation. They said they were not aware of any corrupt officials working at the courts.

However, they said, sometimes hearing dates were changed in view of the sensitivity of a case. A court staffer seeking anonymity told The Tribune that most lawyers tended to be rude if dates were not changed according to their demands.

Muhammad Yaseen, the Model Town courts bakhshi khana in charge, also denied the allegation against the police saying that it had nothing to do with the reality. “The reason why sometimes prisoners are not produced before the courts is the shortage of handcuffs,” he said.

He said prisons officials regularly searched prisoners before and after they had visitors lest they exchange items they were not allowed.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2011.

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