LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan on Wednesday questioned the legitimacy of the cash reward being given to a police team for arresting the key suspect in Sialkot motorway gang-rape incident.

Chief Justice Khan was hearing a matter relating to land grabbing involving police officials, with Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Inam Ghani in attendance.

He expressed wonder over the cash prize announced by the provincial government for the police team after the arrest of the suspect, Abid Malhi.

“Isn’t it the job of police to arrest suspects?” the chief justice asked the IGP, reminding him that to arrest the suspects was the police’s responsibility.

“Giving reward to police officials for [doing] their duty is surprising,” the chief justice remarked. He said this practice would encourage the officials to not make arrests until an announcement of cash prize by the government.

Coming back to the case, Chief Justice Khan lamented that on one hand the police officials remained unable to arrest culprits and on the other, they were found involved in cases of land grabbing.

The CJ regretted that the police caused lawlessness in the country and plundered national resources with impunity. “The country has become a police state,” he added.

The petitioners had contended that an elite police training centre was built on 72 kanal government land owned by the Evacuee Trust Property Board. They said the police were harassing them through the special branch personnel.

The chief justice directed the petitioners to file a written request to the IGP for registration of an FIR against the officers involved in the matter. He also asked them to approach the court if a case was not registered.

The CJ adjourned further hearing till Nov 3.

Outside the court, IGP Ghani did not respond to a question by a journalist whether the gangrape key suspect, Abid Malhi, himself surrendered to the police as claimed by his father.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2020