SC orders closure of all police torture cells
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ordered closure of police torture cells in private houses in the jurisdiction of various police stations and ruled that strict action would be taken against senior police officials under whose authority suspects were subjected to torture.
Brutal police torture became public recently in Chiniot when some suspects of a robbery case were mercilessly thrashed by the police. This sent a wave of anger and disgust throughout the country and sparked wide criticism. Various TV channels ran footage, showing policemen in Chiniot spanking in the open suspects with leather straps with all the might they possessed. Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had taken suo motu notice of the shocking incident and had directed police authorities to submit report before the court.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, while hearing the suo motu case, ordered closure of police torture cells in private houses and directed the Punjab government to issue show-cause notices to DIGs, SPs concerned in the police brutality cases.
The court ruled that instead of lower staff, the court would take strict action against high police officials for their professional incompetence and lack of surveillance over their subordinates, violating the law.
The court also directed the Punjab government to direct senior superintendents of police (SSPs) and station house officers (SHO) to furnish an affidavit, stating there were no private torture cells established outside the police stations and submit it before the court after three weeks. Appearing on notice Punjab IG Tariq Salim Dogar submitted before the court the media had overplayed the issue, causing hatred among the public and the police.
The police officer, however, claimed responsibility for the incident and informed the court he has ordered strict action against the police involved in the brutal case. He said the frustration that prevails among the police has affected their professional obligations.
Upon this Justice Javed Iqbal observed police should leave their frustration at their home while leaving for offices, adding in spite of the fact that they (police) were drawing handsome salaries their performance was not up to the mark and they had failed to deliver efficiently.
Justice Sair Ali observed those police officials should also be subjected to the same torture who lashed the suspects in a brutal and inhuman manner. The court ruled its aim was not to demoralise the police department as there were also dutiful officers in the police force, but measures must be taken against those policemen who were violating the law and subjecting the people to torture in inhuman manner.
“It’s the court’s responsibility to implement and protect provisions of the Constitution pertaining to basic fundamental rights,” Justice Javed Iqbal observed. Khwaja Haris, counsel for the Punjab government, Deputy Attorney-General Shah Khawar, Islamabad IG Qalim Imam also appeared before the court.
Khwaja Haris informed the court the Punjab government has taken strict action against the accused police officials and others in the case while a team headed by SSP has started investigation and report in this regard would be submitted soon before the court.
He further informed the court in order to eliminate ‘Thana culture’, the Punjab chief minister had constituted a committee for submitting recommendations regarding amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
At this Justice Javed Iqbal said Thana culture could not be eliminated by making amendments, adding the apex court took the case and would take strict action right from the IG and the DIG level instead of taking note of Thanedaars and lower police staff.
“More than 90 per cent of police officials are ignorant of the CrPC; people are running from pillar to post seeking justice while police have nothing to do with the grievances of the people,” Justice Javed Iqbal observed.
Justice Javed Iqbal said everyone has made the country a place to make experiments. They come and make experiments and consequently the whole nation has to suffer for their experiments.
During the hearing all the four provinces of the country submitted reports before the Supreme Court pertaining to such incidents of torture. In spite of court directions, police officials from Sindh and the NWFP did not appear before the court.
Islamabad IG Qalim Imam submitted that they were adopting scientific methods during the process of investigation and by using this they have foiled 99 per cent incidents of terrorism in 2009.
He stressed the need for reforms in methods of investigation. Meanwhile, the court directed that all police chiefs along with provincial home secretaries should ensure their appearance before the court on the next date of hearing by furnishing detailed reports, and adjourned the hearing for three weeks.
Source: The News