A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday expressed anger and dismay at the negligence and slackness of the Punjab police and gave a week’s time to the Punjab government to take action against them and submit a compliance report on May 10.
An inquiry report has held top officials of the Rawalpindi police of negligence and lax in a gang-rape case. The report submitted before the Supreme Court found Punjab police officials guilty of delaying registration of first investigation report (FIR) in a gang-rape case.
The special investigation team was constituted on the order of the apex court to probe gang-rape of a 13-year-old girl.
The report reveals that the police officials also tampered official record to conceal their negligence. Though the investigation team has recommended severe punishment for low-ranked officials, it has also held the Rawalpindi City Police Officer Azhar Hameed Khokhar and the then SSP Rawal Town Matloob Hussain responsible for their negligence and slackness in supervising their subordinates.
The two-member bench headed by Justice Mian Shakirullah Jan and comprising Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja heard the case. Justice Khawaja observed that inquiries usually target low-ranked officials granting a clean chit to their bosses. Whereas, in effect it is the CPO and SP who are responsible for their subordinates, he said. Moreover, Justice Khawaja said that such cases are only registered to manage the court proceedings. It is evident from record that in such cases there is “zero per cent conviction” against the guilty police officials, who are always let-off in the end, he added.
As per the inquiry report, Muhammad Aslam, resident of Dhoke Malkal and father of the victim, reported the incident to the Ratta Amaral Police on March 21 that Nanna, Munna and Shahbaz had forcibly taken her daughter to their house and sexually assaulted her.
On receipt of this report, SI Zafar Iqbal took the victim to District Headquarters Hospital for medical examination. The chemical examination report confirmed the crime. Despite receiving the complaint and medical examination report on the same day and chemical examination in positive (eight days later), the criminal case was not registered against the suspects, the report says.
Moreover, the daily diary of the police station reveals that the case diary was tampered with. The investigation team found the then DSP Taimur Khan, SI Jawad Shah, the then SHO of Ratta Amaral Police Station, and SI Zafar Iqbal guilty for erasing the original diary, causing inordinate delay in registering FIR on April 18 and concealing the offence and not bringing it to the notice of the senior officials.
“They have been placed under suspension after registering a criminal case against them on April 20, and are being proceeded against departmentally,” stated Punjab Prosecutor General Malik Sadaqat, quoting IGP’s written report.
ASI Khalid Mehmood the then Moharrar is also being proceeded against departmentally for failing to perform his duties as custodian of the record and misconduct.
The accused police officials were on pre-arrest bail till May 3.
The team recommended that the CPO be asked to be vigilant in future and careful in performing his duties. The team, however, recommended that a show-cause notice should be issued to the then Rawal Town SP Malik Matloob Ahmed to explain his position for the serious lapse and miserably failing to supervise his subordinates properly.
Meanwhile, according to the findings of the investigation team, the accused, Shahbaz Ahmad, has been found guilty of committing the crime.
The prosecutor claimed that there is ample evidence against Shahbaz but no solid evidence was found against the two other suspects, Nanna and Munna. They will be placed in column No. 2 of the report, he said.
The four-member investigation team was headed by Additional IGP Punjab Muhammad Anwar Virk. It comprised DIG Telecommunication Punjab Dr Arif Mushtaq, SSP Investigation Punjab Akhtar Umar Hayat Lalika and DSP Legal Muhammad Anwar. The court asked the police to ensure fair process and adjourned the case till May 10.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.