Judge reprimands Islamabad SSP -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Judge reprimands Islamabad SSP

RAWALPINDI- The Lahore High Court, Rawalpindi bench, directed the Islamabad police to register an First Information Report (FIR) against an army major for attacking Dawn’s staff reporter under section 154 of the CrPC and record the complainant’s statement.

Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan also directed the police not to arrest Faraz Hashmi till Friday when his criminal miscellaneous (CM) application, seeking pre-arrest bail, would be taken up. Mr. Hashmi, in his petition through his counsel, Mohammad Ilyas Siddiqui, prayed the court to direct the police to register the FIR of the incident in which he was assaulted by Maj. Fawad Hafeez when their vehicles had struck outside Press Information Department offices.

When the petition was taken up at 8.30 am, Justice Chowhan directed the Punjab Assistant Advocate-General, Syed Sajjad Hussain, to summon the senior superintendent of Islamabad police and station house officer of Aabpara police station.

The matter was again taken up at around 10.30am.

When the court inquired why the ‘police had not registered the case on the complaint of the petitioner, Senior Superintendent Police (SSP) Nasir Khan Durrani stated the petitioner had suffered minor injury (Shuja Khafifa) and it was a non-cognizable offence.

Justice Chowhan observed that section 154 of the CrPC was the relevant provision under which the police should record the statement of the petitioner.

The learned judge observed that the SSP had mishandled the case, which had not only disgraced the capital police but also brought bad name to the army. “Why are you not fulfilling your obligation under section 154 CrPC”, the judge questioned.

When the SSP said that under the procedure it was not possible, the judge observed that he knew law much batter than the police officer and he fully knew what were the requirements for recording of a statement under section 154 of the CrPC.

Justice Chowhan observed that reputation of the army was important and it should not be tarnished for the sake of one officer. “It has become a joke that people are holding demonstrations but the police are not registering the case.” The judge observed that when public institutions get afraid of few individuals, they [institutions] collapse. “The feeling of helplessness breeds contempt.”

When again the SSP said that Maj. Hafeez had reported to the police that Mr. Hashmi had abused him (the major), the judge observed that it reflected his prejudice. The judge asked the police to register the case under section 154 CrPC and refer the matter to competent authorities under section 549 of the CrPC.

The judge observed that it was a matter of daily occurrence that police registered false cases and in a case when a citizen reported that he had been attacked and hurt, his case was not registered.

It was apparent from the behaviour of the police, the judge observed, that they were conniving with the person who had attacked the petitioner. “What is happening in this country, is there any rule of law?” the judge remarked.

The judge observed that he was aware that the SSP enjoyed good reputation but had mishandled the present case.

The SSP said that he was under no pressure from the army and in fact was under pressure from the press, which was publishing editorials daily. The SSP, however, after few minutes, said that he was under no pressure from any quarter, including the press.

The judge asked the AAG, Syed Sajjad Hussain Shah, to advise the SSP to proceed under section 154 or he would pass an order, in which strictures might be passed against him for mishandling the case.

The petition was disposed of in the light of assurance given by the SSP that he would proceed under section 154 on the report of the Dawn journalist.

Moments after coming out of the courtroom, the SSP passed verbal instructions to his subordinates in the corridors of the court building to register a case against Mr. Hashmi on the complaint of Maj. Hafeez.

He further directed that on the complaint of Mr. Hashmi, an FlR should be registered and disposed of by writing a footnote that the injury was minor (Shuja Khafifa) and non-cognizable.

At this, Mr. Hashmi moved CM in the earlier writ petition stating that the SSP was harboring ill will against him for approaching the court and apprehended that he would be arrested.

Justice Chowhan issued notice to the SSP for November 23, and directed him that in the “meanwhile the petitioner shall not be arrested.”

Mohammad Asghar adds: On the intervention of Lahore High Court (LHC), Rawalpindi Bench, the Islamabad police lodged the FIR against Major Fawad Hafeez.

Meanwhile, a case has also been registered at the Aabpara police station against the Dawn reporter, Faraz Hashmi, on charges of careless driving and causing damage to the army officer’s car.

The case was registered soon after the LHC gave instructions to the Islamabad SSP to entertain the complaint of Mr. Hashmi, who had been struggling to get his case registered for the last four days.

Mr. Hashmi, in the FIR, said: “I was on my way to the office in my car. When I arrived at’ the U-turn, another speeding car (S-4563) collided with my car.

“As the two cars stopped, following the collision, hardly I had come out of my car, the other person, who was later identified as Maj. Fawad Hafeez, got out of his vehicle and started abusing me. He pounced on me, kicking, punching me and hurling threats of dire consequences.”

According to the FIR the attack by the army officer was so stunning that Mr. Hashmi fell back with blood oozing from a wide and deep cut under his left eye.

“In the meantime, a police party arrived there, but he [major] went on thrashing me,” the complainant said.

Mr. Hashmi said in the FlR that after the attack, Maj. Hafeez escaped from the scene, saying: “You do what you can. Nobody can harm me.”

Mr. Hashmi said another reporter who was with him in the car had witnessed the incident. He further said that he felt a threat to his life from the army major.

The FIR against Mr. Hashmi has been registered under sections 279 and 427 of the Pakistan Panel Code (PPC).

Source: Dawn
Date:11/22/2001