The Supreme Court rejected a Punjab police report on Monday regarding the woman who had been stoned to death in a village near Khanewal and directed the federal and provincial government to look into the matter and take action against top police officials.
The court gave executive authorities three days to take action against inspector general of police (IGP), regional police officer (RPO) Multan, district police officer (DPO) and a station house officer (SHO) in view of the Sarfraz Shah case, in which IG Sindh and DG Rangers and a serving general of army, were transferred in 2011.
Maryam Bibi, a 35-year-old mother, was lynched on the orders of a local panchayat. She had reportedly refused a landlord’s advances, which led to the man levelling questionable charges against her and to the woman’s eventual lynching in her own home. The landlord also abducted her husband. The police had registered a case against nine men for her murder.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry heard the case and termed the police report concocted and contradictory to reported circumstances. The chief justice observed that no one from the investigation officer to the IG deserve to occupy such a position.
The court declared that IG Punjab and other police officials had not taken this matter seriously, adding that if the federal and provincial government failed to take action against police officers, it would fix another date for hearing in the case and pass an order in this regard. The court also ordered Punjab police to provide full security to the heirs of Maryam Bibi.
“We are of the prima facie opinion that the case of the poor lady has not been dealt with fairly,” the court said in its order.
The chief justice asked the deputy attorney general to tell the prime minister about the pitiable condition of Maryam Bibi’s five children, adding that the court would observe what action the prime minister took against the police officials.
DPO Khanewal submitted a report regarding the woman’s murder. According to the report, Sarfraz confessed that he had murdered his wife, Maryam Bibi, when she hit a brick on his head. The police told the court that the cause of the woman’s death was strangulation.
The court, however, rejected the report, saying the police was evidently favouring the accused party in this case as their previous investigation record did not match their recent report.
“IG Punjab has done nothing in this case and ultimately he is responsible for this incident,” the court observed.
DPO M Waqar Abbasi said that there was an injury on Sarfraz’s head, which showed that he was hit by his wife. However, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said that the injury on Sarfraz’s head was not fresh.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2012.