A two-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday expressed its displeasure with the Faisalabad police for failing to arrest the main suspect in a gang rape case.
The rape victim alleges that the police haven’t arrested the suspect because he is a friend of Law Minster Rana Sanaullah.
The bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, was conducting proceedings of a suo motu notice taken on an application filed by Saima Mukhtar*, according to which she was raped by five people.
The court directed Faisalabad City Police Officer (CPO) Bilal Siddique Kamyana to present the suspect on March 22, the next date of hearing.
The CPO informed the bench on Thursday that police needed more time to arrest the suspect, Asghar Ali.
“Is there no competent police officer in Faisalabad district who can arrest a single [man]?” asked Justice Khawaja. He reprimanded the officer for asking for more time “over and over again”. “Please ask your bosses to transfer you because you have failed,” remarked the judge adding that he would direct the inspector general of police to arrest Ali.
“What good are your degree and your words when they can’t help you arrest criminals?” observed the irate judge after the CPO told the court that had an LLM.
The CPO said that the police were trying their best to arrest Ali. He told the bench that the police had contacted the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) to help them in finding the suspect, adding that he was confident the suspect would be arrested soon. He also told the court that he had recommended that criminal proceedings be initiated against DSP Mian Khalid whom he held responsible for Asghar Ali’s escape.
However, the CPO’s assurances did not satisfy the bench, “You are just making statements to save your job but no practical steps have been taken. If they had, the accused would have been in police’s custody by now,” noted Justice Khawaja.
When the CPO said that the court could verify his claims by holding an inquiry, the judge admonished him saying that there was no need for an inquiry because the performance of the police belied their claims. “Mark my words, DSP Mian Khalid will be promoted soon because incompetent officers always get promoted in the police,” he observed.
The victim has approached the court to get justice, said Justice Khwaja. He warned the CPO that if they failed in providing her justice she would hold all of them accountable on Judgment Day.
Mukhtar, when asked, told the court that she did not know where Ali had “disappeared”. She said he had last been seen with Sanaullah.
The CPO, however, rejected Mukhtar’s allegation, saying that Ali did not have any relations with the minister. He then requested the court to give the police at least seven days to produce the suspect in court.
The bench accepted his request and ordered him to arrest the suspect by March 22, otherwise, it warned that he would be transferred from Faisalabad. “It is your last chance,” said the court.
According to the victim, Ali had called Mukhtar to his office for a job interview but he and four other people had raped her. D-Type Colony police station registered an FIR against Asghar Ali, Ansar Ali, Muhammad Ihsan, Tariq Ali and Karam Hussain. All the suspects were arrested, but then granted bail seven months ago by the Lahore High Court.
Mukhtar then filed an appeal in the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of their bails. The apex court converted her appeal into a suo moto notice on March 6 and directed the police to arrest Ali. His co-accused are in custody.
*Name of the victim has been changed to protect her identity
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2012.