IHC seeks explanation over delay in enforcing 2002 police reforms in capital

Updated May 09, 2020

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Court gives authorities six questions to answer. — AFP/File
Court gives authorities six questions to answer. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Friday converted the matter relating to delay in administration of justice into public interest litigation and sought reports from the interior secretary, the chief commissioner of Islamabad and judges of trial courts working within the IHC’s jurisdiction.

Chief Justice Minallah asked the police, district administration and federal government to explain why police reforms could not be enforced in the federal capital even though the law had been promulgated some 18 years ago.

The court framed six questions to be answered by these authorities, including why Police Order 2002 could not be implemented in Islamabad; why proper investigation training was not imparted to investigation officers; whether the code of criminal procedure 1898 and Qanoon-i-Shahadat [Evidence Act] of 1984 were still applicable; whether the state was responsible for delay in administration of justice and whether victims of delayed justice could seek remedy from any forum.

The court appointed criminologist Dr Shoaib Suddle, Kamaluddin Tippu, director general of the National Police Bureau, superintendent of Adiala Jail and vice chairmen of the Pakistan Bar Council and Islamabad Bar Council as amici curiae in the matter.

Further hearing was adjourned to May 14.

During the hearing, the inspector general of Islamabad police submitted a report on the problems arising during investigation of crimes which hindered administration of justice.

In the report, the IG said that the investigation officer (IO) of a case had to pay Rs5,000 parcel fee from his own pocket to send evidence to a forensic laboratory for analysis.

“There should not be any laboratory fee or it should be responsibility of the district administration [to pay the fee],” he said.

The IG noted that it took around two months to send evidence to laboratory for analysis. “An IO should be given the authority to send evidence to a laboratory without waiting for the approval of high officials,” he suggested.

Similarly, he said, an IO paid Rs15,000 for preparation of a sketch of a suspect believed to have committed a crime. “Such a sketch should be prepared within two days.”

The report said that plaintiffs did not cooperate with police after registration of first information reports.

The absence of a forensic laboratory in Islamabad, lawyers’ strikes and deployment of police personnel for special duties also delayed investigation process and subsequently trials, the report said.

Earlier, acquitting a murder suspect Chief Justice Minallah had observed that the existing criminal justice system had failed to deliver and it was on the verge of collapse.

The court had observed that the existing criminal justice system failed to prevent and prosecute crime and it was perpetuating miscarriages of justice.

It had noted that low-paid investigating officers did not have sufficient resources to visit the crime scene when a crime was reported, let alone sending the sealed samples and arranging the payment of the fee to a laboratory for conducting forensic examinations.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2020