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KARACHI: Three police officials escaped from the premises of City Courts after a sessions court recalled their pre-arrest bail in a case pertaining to an incident of fire in malkhana (warehouse).

Abdul Sattar Gopang, Mohammad Shakeel and Turab Ali — the then in-charge of districts Central, South and East sections of malkhana respectively — have been booked for their alleged negligence since hundreds of case properties of the three judicial districts kept in the malkhana were destroyed during a fire on the night of April 11.

On Aug 3, the court had granted them interim bail against a surety bond of Rs50,000 each and asked them to join the investigation.

They had approached court for confirmation of interim bail

After hearing arguments from both sides and examining the record of the case and police file, the additional district and sessions judge (South) Rajesh Chander Rajput dismissed the bail pleas and observed that admittedly all the three applicants/suspects being police officers were serving as in-charge of malkhana at City Courts, which stored valuable articles being case properties of three judicial districts and relevant records.

He further observed that the complainant is also a police officer, who had nominated the applicants/suspects in the FIR with the allegation that they had deliberately set the malkhana on fire to extend undue favour to the accused involved in the cases, hence prima facie the case against the applicants/suspects was made out.

In his order, the judge further observed that for the extraordinary relief of pre-arrest bail the suspects had to show their false implication in the case because of mala fides on the part of the complainant and their possible arrest by the police for ulterior motives, but they had not been able to show those grounds with support of material.

“The alleged offence punishable under Section 436 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) carries maximum imprisonment for 10 years as such case of applicants/accused also gets hit by prohibitory clause of Section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” he noted.

“Investigation of the case was yet in progress and unless the applicants/accused were remanded in police custody, the truth of the matter cannot be reached,” the judge added.

Earlier, the suspects through their counsel Asadullah Burdi argued for confirmation of interim bail.

However, the deputy district public prosecutor Shakeel Ahmed Abbasi vehemently opposed the plea to confirm their bail arguing that the applicants/accused were nominated in the FIR and they being in-charge of the malkhana had torched the case properties and record of three judicial districts.

The SHO of the City Courts PS Sub-inspector Zulfiqar Ali lodged an FIR on July 31 on directive of the district and sessions judge (South), asking to get the case of the incident registered.

A case against them was registered under sections 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 436 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc), 285 (negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC at the City Courts police station.

The FIR stated that a fire suddenly broke out in malkhana at 0215 hours on April 11, adding that the fire completely damaged the properties belonging to districts South and East in the warehouse located on the premises of the City Courts judicial complex.

It further stated that the fire also destroyed the old record of district Central, including the case properties in the cases registered at three police stations — Sharifabad, Supermarket and Samnabad — in 2018.

The explosives and ammunition, which were case properties in the cases of districts East and South also exploded in the fire, which panicked the residents of the area, it added.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2018