LAHORE: A high-level police inquiry into the case of attempted rape of a 12-year-old boy in Tandlianwala, Faisalabad, has declared the acquittal of the suspect nominated in the initial FIR on the mediation of a ‘Jirga/Panchayat’ a blatant violation of the Supreme Court’s judgment, Dawn has learnt from reliable sources.

The Supreme Court’s landmark judgment had appeared in January 2019 when the legal status of the ‘council of elders’, ‘Panchayat’ or ‘kangaroo courts’ operating as alternative to the judicial system or for mediation in tribal belts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and rural areas of Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan was challenged.

The inquiry asks the police concerned to challenge in the higher courts acquittal of the suspect, Maulana Abubakar Muavia, by a magistrate after the father of the boy gave a statement in his favour.

A video had appeared on social media four days back in which the child’s father Mudassar Nazeer was seen stating that he had forgiven the suspect in the name of God. In the same video, a known cleric appeared, saying he had investigated the case on his own and met the child’s father too. He said it was not a matter of molestation but an exchange of harsh words between the boy’s father and the suspect.

Inquiry asks police to challenge magistrate’s decision on Faisalabad case

The other day the issue was also raised in the National Assembly by PPP MNA Abdul Qadir Patel who asked the state to be a complainant in the case if the child’s father had forgiven him on intervention of the clerics. He also sought proper investigation into the case.

The sources say reinvestigation into the case was launched on the order of IGP Dr Usman Anwar when Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz took notice of the incident and directed him (the IGP) to hold an impartial inquiry to know on what grounds the suspect was discharged in the case and determine the role of the police.

Abubakar Mauvia was discharged from the case by Tandlianwala Judicial Magistrate Nauman Tahir on March 30 when the police presented him in the court, seeking further physical remand to continue interrogating him.

During the hearing, the complainant along with his son also appeared and submitted a written statement that he got his FIR lodged on the basis of ‘suspicion’ against Mauvia. The magistrate’s decision mentioned that the complainant had submitted an affidavit too.

“On query, the minor/victim also stated that the present accused didn’t commit the offence as mentioned in the FIR,” reads the magistrate’s decision.

“So, the request of the investigation officer to grant physical remand of the accused is not justifiable and the same is turned down and the accused is discharged from this case,” it adds.

Dawn obtained all relevant documents, including a copy of the written statement submitted by the complainant before the magistrate.

This complainant’s statement appeared to be the turning point that prompted the Punjab police high-ups to get the case reinvestigated as it mentioned the decision of a ‘Jirga Panchayat’.

An official, privy to the development, said that during the inquiry, the legal branch of the police referred to the Supreme Court’s 2019 judgment when the matter of the legality of Jirgas or Kangaroo courts was raised.

The Supreme Court judgment declares that the Jirgahs, Panchayats etc do not operate under the Constitution or any other law whatsoever to the extent that they attempt to adjudicate on civil or criminal matters.

The official said the police legal branch recommended to the department high-ups to issue directions to challenge the magistrate’s decision of acquittal of the suspect. He further said the legal branch was of the view that local police should be directed to determine the role of ‘the Panchayat’ in the light of the SC’s judgment to further proceed against them. If found guilty, they must be held accountable on abetment charges, he said.

The IGP confirmed that the matter was investigated at a high level in light of the magistrate’s decision. He said he and the prosecutor general had met the victim boy and his father and discussed the issue of allegations levelled against the suspect.

“The police discharged its core functions in this case, lodged an FIR, arrested the suspect and presented him before the court for physical remand,” the IG added, urging the society to stand up to perform its due role.

Published in Dawn, April 3rd, 2024

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