LAHORE: With a deadline of seven days for the registration of first information report (FIR), the Police Complaints Redressal mechanism has been enforced all over Punjab.
For this purpose, Inspector General of Punjab Police Amjad Javed Saleemi has appointed district complaint officers (DCOs) at all the districts, including Lahore, to hear complaints of citizens for registration of FIRs.
The appointment of DCOs has been made in the light of a decision taken by Police Reforms Committee (PRC) constituted by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan in 2018.
The committee had submitted its recommendations at a high-level judicial meeting regarding police reforms last month with the sole purpose of reducing burden of unnecessary litigation and providing timely relief to the public.
Earlier, the National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) had also given a similar decision that the petitions under Sections 22A and 22B of the CrPC would not be entertained directly by the courts and the aggrieved persons would have to appear before the superintendent of police (SP) for the purpose.
Under the new arrangement, the newly appointed DCOs will hear public complaints for registration of FIRs and decide them within the seven-day period.
“The most important point suggested by the PRC in its a report launched in January last was to give top priority to the redressal of public complaints against the police,” said the IGP.
Talking to Dawn, he said that the appointment of DCOs under CrPc 22-A/22-B would be helpful in preventing the registration of false FIRs.
“It was decided that we should have a system whereby public complaints against police should be dealt within each district by officers of integrity,” he said.
Consequently, he said, the SP/DSP ranked officers were appointed as DCOs who would have no other responsibility except dealing with public complaints.
“The sole benchmark of evaluating the success of this venture is the reduction in the number of people who, after approaching the police, move courts to get relief. We are sure if the idea is implemented in letter and spirit, the workload of courts, over and above the adjudication of criminal cases, will be drastically reduced,” Mr Saleemi sounded optimism.
He said instructions had been given to the DCOs to ensure that once a complainant approached his area office, he/she must be provided relief as per law within seven days.
The IGP said he had assured members of the bar that basic aim of this system was to reduce sufferings of the common man.
The Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) vice chairman Syed Amjad Shah, in a statement last Friday, had strongly criticised the decision of the NJPMC to allow police to hear complaints under the CrCP. He had demanded immediate reversal of the decision and restoration of previous practice of hearing petitions by the courts under Sections 22A and 22B of the CrPC.He was sure with the induction of DCOs, the complaints/cases would be registered on the basis of strong evidence and proper inquiry. “It will also help reduce the incidents of abuse of power at the police station level.”
He said during the police reforms committee meeting held a month back in Islamabad, it was revealed that a lot of cases were about police power abuse and negligence.
The appointment of district complaint officers of high integrity would help mitigate this situation and ensure the registration of cases on genuine complaints, he said.
Following are the names of DCOs appointed in Punjab: Athar Waheed for Lahore, Saleem Khan Warraich for Sheikhupura, Moaz Zafar Kasur, Hassan Afzal Nankana Sahib, Waqar Shoaib Anwar Gujranwala, Amjad Mehmood Qureshi Gujrat, Syed Aun Muhammad Sialkot, Saira Bano Narowal, Tahir Majid Khan Mandi Bahawaluddin, Mohammad Khalid Hafizabad, Syed Ali Akbar Shah for Rawalpindi, Shahid Siddiqui Jhelum, Azhar Shabir Khan Atak, Asar Ali Chakwal, Muhammad Usman Sargodha, Nighat Firdous Khushab, Saeedullah Khan Manawali, Muhammad Akram Khan Niaz Bhakar, Syed Nadeem Abbas Faisalabad, Muhammad Imtiaz Mahmood Jhang, Mumtaz Sahrai Chinniot , Farooq Ahmed Hundal Toba Tek Singh, Shahida Naureen Sahiwal, Shakir Ahmed Shahid Okara, Syed Muhamad Abbas Pakpattan, Tauseef Haider Multan, Faiz Ahmad Khanewal, Jalil Imran Khan Vehari, Muhammad Azeem Lodhran, Mohammad Salim Khan Nazi Bahawalpur, Naeemul Hassan Bhawalnagar, Muhammad Ashraf for Rahim Yar Khan, Tahir Mustafa Dera Ghazi Khan, Ghulam Mustafa Pahore Muzaffargarh, Ejaz Ahmad Layyah and Mujahid Iqbal for Rajanpur.
Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2019