Judge sacked over scuffle incident in Red Zone

Published December 8, 2020
Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Monday sacked additional district and sessions judge Mohammad Jahangir Awan over the Sept 14 Red Zone scuffle incident. — File photo
Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Monday sacked additional district and sessions judge Mohammad Jahangir Awan over the Sept 14 Red Zone scuffle incident. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah on Monday sacked additional district and sessions judge Mohammad Jahangir Awan over the Sept 14 Red Zone scuffle incident.

An order issued by the IHC stated: “I, therefore, as an Authority am satisfied that the misconduct on the part of Answering Judge stands established and consequently in exercise of powers conferred upon me under Rule 4(1)(b), the major penalty of dismissal from service.”

Justice Minallah noted that disciplinary proceedings were already pending against the sacked judge pursuant to a report dated July 27, 2020, received from the district and sessions judge (West) Islamabad. He had been placed under suspension on July 28 and the inquiry proceedings were pending against him.

The order added: “The main accused, namely Khurram Pervez, is stated to be the husband of a member of the provincial assembly of Punjab. According to the material placed on record, both the judge as well as the main accused were taken to the police station but they were later released.”

Misconduct stands established, major penalty of dismissal from service awarded, IHC order says

A report was sought by the registrar of the IHC from the inspector general of police Islamabad regarding the status of the investigation. According to the report, the investigation showed that both parties were travelling on Constitution Avenue (south-bound) during which they had an altercation over overtaking.

“Khurram Pervez travelling in a white Land Cruiser bearing registration number KA-004 reportedly honked horns which offended Jahangir Awan who was travelling in white Toyota Premio bearing registration number AQB-992. Jahangir Awan allegedly made an inappropriate gesture. Thereafter, Mr Awan went to a petrol pump for refueling his vehicle. Khurram Pervez along with his cousin Mohammad Bilal followed him there, approached his vehicle and physically assaulted him. A scuffle started during which Mr Awan took out his pistol and fired two shots in the air.”

It was noted that the judge was no more a mere complainant but had simultaneously become an accused because the investigating officer had included the offence under section 337-H(2) of Pakistan Penal Code 1860 for the act of resorting to the use of a firearm weapon. The judge was alleged to have acted in a rash and negligent manner which could have endangered human life or the safety of others.

The acts of the main accused and the judge at the station are not disputed. The parties were certainly not ordinary citizens; one was a judge and the other the husband of a lawmaker from the treasury benches.

The order noted that the crime scene was situated in a high security area of the capital - Red Zone. It is also obvious from the record that the capital administration and the police did not treat them like ordinary citizens. The main accused was admittedly not armed when the incident took place, thus the act of the judge of firing twice from his firearm weapon had to be justified and he had to discharge the onus that it was absolutely necessary for a judge to do so.

The judge entered into a compromise with the two accused, the order said, adding his entering into a compromise with the main accused had the effect of condoning violations of law.

Judge Awan “failed to offer a satisfactory explanation for the shockingly aggressive behaviour of the main accused at the station if that was not the case” nor did he “give a plausible explanation for using a firearm weapon when, admittedly, the main accused and the other person accompanying him were unarmed,” the order noted.

It said: “Prima facie, it cannot be ruled out that the judge may have acted in a rash and negligent manner” and “could not give a satisfactory reason for entering into a compromise with a person who had physically manhandled him publicly and that too when he asserts that it was unprovoked.”

The incident had attracted extraordinary public attention because of the status of the parties, more so because one of them held a judicial office and represented the institution even when outside the court.

The judge was earlier alleged to have acted in a manner unbecoming of a judicial officer. In this case, the judge could not rebut the presumption of regularity and sanctity of the process of investigation and, pursuant thereto, the preliminary findings of the investigating officer.

The conduct amounted to ‘misconduct’ defined under clause (e) of Rule 2 of the Punjab Civil Servants (Efficiency & Discipline) Rules 1999, the order concluded.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2020

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