Karachi court bars police from lodging FIRs against Covid SOPs violators

Published August 2, 2021
The court ordered that no FIR under Section-188 of the PPC should be registered against citizens flouting Covid-19 SOPs at police stations in two districts, East and Korangi. — AFP/File
The court ordered that no FIR under Section-188 of the PPC should be registered against citizens flouting Covid-19 SOPs at police stations in two districts, East and Korangi. — AFP/File

A local court in Karachi has barred police from registering first information reports (FIR) against citizens under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code on account of violation of Covid-19 SOPs at any police station of districts East and Korangi of the city, it emerged on Monday.

Judicial magistrate (East) Javed Ali Korejo passed the order while hearing a case pertaining to the arrest of eight citizens under Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) by Gulistan-i-Johar police for allegedly violating the SOPs issued by the provincial government to contain spread of the disease.

The judge, who was on special duty, issued the order on Sunday.

The judge noted that the investigation officer, Inspector Ali Mohammad Gopang, had produced the suspects — Qaiser Abbas, Zafar, Hafeez, Mubarak Ali, Tariq, Abdul Rehman, Sumair Qureshi and Mujeebur Rehman — for violating the SOPs during Covid-19 “which is infringement of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, as such the suspects were booked under Section 188 of the Pakistan Penal Code”.

Section-188 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Section-188 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The judge also heard arguments from the counsel of the suspects, the state prosecutor and the investigating officer and examined material produced by him.

He noted: “It is regretted to say that despite number of courts have issued/circulated directions for not lodging the FIRs in future in case of violation of order under Section 144 of the CrPC and the correct recourse is ... written complaints but the police have deliberately disobeyed the directions of various courts and have frequently registered the FIRs against the law.

“It may be clarified that even the notification issued by government does not direct for registration of FIR rather for filing written complaints but the SHOs concerned have totally ignored the directions of the government [and also] of courts.”

The judge remarked that: “From the conduct of disobeying the orders of courts by police, it reflects that they need stern action in accordance with law. It is well-settled principle of law that [a] thing must be done in a particular manner as it is provided, therefore, no one is above the law…,” he said, adding that police should not adopt its own procedure by registering “unnecessary FIRs”.

In the present case, the SHO being responsible officer of the station has deliberately committed misconduct by violating the principles of settled law, he said.

He warned the SHO of Gulistan-i-Johar Police Station to not adopt the “recourse of lodging the FIRs in violation of Section 144”, asking him to take the legal route as provided under the law.

“It may be clarified that from today no ... FIR shall be registered under Section 188 of PPC at any police station of districts East and Korangi on account of violation of SOPs of Covid-19, however, the SHOs may file written complaints against a violator," he ruled.

The judge also observed that any SHO flouting the court directives should be dealt with in accordance with the law for his "willful disobedience”.

“Keeping in view the above, I am of the firm opinion that the police is not [justified] in arresting the accused persons and also police is not [justified] to set the law in motion through recourse of FIR, therefore, the above named accused persons are hereby discharged under Section 63 of the CrPC subject to furnishing PR bond of Rs50,000 each," he wrote in the order.

The court also directed the investigation officer to submit a final report in the case within stipulated time.

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