12,000 pending cases expose flawed investigation system

Updated July 03, 2019

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Police says 7,255 cases were under investigation till May 29 and the figure has been reduced to 4,500 cases now. — Dawn/File
Police says 7,255 cases were under investigation till May 29 and the figure has been reduced to 4,500 cases now. — Dawn/File

FAISALABAD: Thousands of people are suffering due to the alleged inefficiency of the investigating officers (IOs) of the police who have yet to submit challan of more than 12,000 cases of Faisalabad district, which have been under investigation since 2015.

Police said 7,255 cases were under investigation till May 29; however claiming that the figure has been reduced to around 4,500 cases now.

The poor performance of police surfaced in a meeting of the Criminal Justice Coordination Committee, headed by District and Sessions Judge Muhammad Yousaf Ojla which found discrepancies in the under-investigation cases whose high number was also shocking. The police officials said the number of under investigation cases was 7,255 but the prosecution department said the figure stood at 12,195.

While presenting the figure in a meeting of the committee held on May 29, SSP (investigation) Syed Nadeem Abbas said police were investigating 7,255 cases. Giving a break-up of the cases, he said 149 cases were registered in 2015, 321 in 2016, 1,578 in 2017, 2,807 in 2018 and 2,400 cases were registered during the current year and they were still under investigation as per the report submitted by the district public prosecutor (DPP).

In response to the statement of the SSP (investigation), DPP Muzaffar Ali Ranjan, told the meeting that 599 cases of 2015, 1,735 of 2016, 4,911 of 2017, 4,950 of 2018 and 5,744 cases of the ongoing year were still with the police.

Since there was a huge difference between the figures submitted by the police and prosecution, the sessions judge asked the senior civil judge, SSP (investigations) and DPP to have a meeting twice a week and synchronise the variation of the pending reports under section 173 of the CrPC and submit a report in the next meeting.

The SSP (investigation) had also been directed to expedite the investigation process and make every possible effort to clear the backlog from 2015 to 2018 before the next meeting. The chair also directed the SSP (investigation) that under any circumstances, complete or incomplete reports under section 173 CrPC in cases registered up till May 31 must be submitted in the courts before the next meeting.

Senior Civil Judge (criminal division) Muhammad Shahbaz Hijazi, giving reason of delay in submission of challan said that none of the stakeholders–courts, prosecution and police–is ready to own the investigation officers (IOs) and help them out. In case of any objection raised by the prosecution in the challan, he said the IO did not have sufficient resources to remove these objections.

The DPP, in response, said it was duty of the IO to have direct contact with the prosecutor rather than his clerk. He complained that most of the IOs did not attend the calls of the prosecutor.

A couple of days back, the scribe contacted the SSP (investigation) to get the latest figures of the under investigation cases, the officer said the number of under investigation cases was around 4,500.

Sources questioned the statement of the SSP, saying how police could conclude about 2,800 cases on merit and with fair investigation in such a short span of time. They said the meeting, headed by the sessions judge, had taken place in the last week of May and police had speedily cleared the backlog only to save their skin from the wrath of the judge who would again take up the issue of under investigation cases.

When the SSP (investigation) was asked how the police could complete thousands of cases within such a short time, he did not give a reply.

The sources said it seemed the police would compromise the requirements of fair investigation and fundamentals of justice, which would ultimately benefit the criminals rather ensuring justice for the victims.

A lawyer, criticising the police, said the department work haphazardly, adding that the police had finalised the investigation and submitted the challan of Imran Manj, an advocate, within 14 days only to tease the legal fraternity. He said police also ensured his conviction.

The anti-terrorism court judge, on May 24, handed down collective imprisonment of 18 years to Manj who had been found guilty of injuring a civil judge during proceedings of a case in Jaranwala on April 24. He said police had ignored the fundamentals of justice by concluding the case of Manj due to which the Lahore High Court had granted him bail. He said conviction of Manj was beyond the facts of the incident. He said funds had been spent to improve the investigation capacity of policemen so that they could submit the challan within the stipulated period; however, it was irony that due to the lethargic attitude of the police, the people were suffering.

A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity, said the police always did all the needful to complete the investigation. He said the IOs were constantly kept on their toes if there was a pending case and the department ensured that there was no inordinate delay. However, he added, that there were other departments also involved in the whole process which sometimes caused a delay in taking the cases to their logical end.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd , 2019