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High Court orders arrest of army officer

December 05, 2012

Policemen stand guard in front of the Islamabad High Court building. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD, Dec 5: Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday ordered the city police to arrest a serving army officer and two others accused in Rs24 million land fraud case.

Earlier, on November 16, the judge had told the petitioner Yawar Saeed Khan, seeking the arrest of Major Zubair Ali Khan, Saeedur Rehman and Sheikh Tajammal, that under sub-section 3 of Article 199 of the Constitution, the court could not take cognisance of the matters relating to army and asked him to delete Adjutant General of the army from his list of respondents.

Asked for comments, Islamabad police’s special prosecutor Syed Tayyab told Dawn that under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) police can arrest an army personnel with the consent of his unit and after informing the military police regarding the arrest.

Under the prevailing law and sections of the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952, police are obliged to hand over a military person in their custody whenever the military required so.

In any case, the police law officer said, civil courts cannot try army personnel. Under the PAA, an army person accused of illegal practice or embezzlement can only be tried in a military court, he said.

Yawar Khan’s petition says he had lodged an FIR against the accused persons under sections 406/109, 420, 468 and 471 of the PPC on August 9, 2007 for breach of trust and fraud.

His case pertains to land measuring nearly 84.5 acres along the main road of Fatehjang, belonging to Haji Said. He alleges that Major Zubair, a family friend, persuaded him to buy the land and he paid him Rs24 million.

At the time of sale, he was told that it was a compact plot but it emerged the land was scattered in different areas. He termed it a fraud.

In 2008, he said, the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court cancelled the bail Haji Said had secured from a local court in another FIR registered about the same matter. Major Zubair’s bail application also was dismissed by an additional sessions judge of Islamabad and the bail of Saeed was cancelled last year. However, the petitioner said the police did not arrest them and sought court’s direction for their arrest.

While disposing of the matter, the judge noted that Yawar Saeed Khan twice petitioned for their arrest and the respondents and the police were under obligation to act strictly in accordance with law to redress the grievances of litigants. He said that the courts are committed to keep check on public functionaries in order to ensure protection of fundamental rights of the citizen.

The Inter-Services Public Relations department of the military was not available for comments.