Forged bails scam blows apart the foundations of legal system

Since the last week of May, at least three cases have surfaced in which under-trial prisoners were granted bail on forged documents. While subsequent investigations saw the capital police close in on one large gang involved in such forgeries, unsurprisingly, it emerged that serving police officers and lower court officials were active part of this net.

The most high-profile of these cases involved the release of an accused in the 2008 robbery at the residence of Sardar Tanvir Ilyas, president of Pak-Gulf Construction Company and the builder of Centaurus in Blue Area.

Ashiq Hussain along with a dozen accomplices was an accused in the robbery – described as one of the biggest in the history of Islamabad – carried out on July 29, 2008 at Mr Ilyas’ home in F-8/4. The robbers had looted jewellery, cash and cellphones worth more than Rs25million.

After the arrest of the culprits, Mr Ilyas had famously given cash awards of nearly a million rupees to the two investigating team, namely the Margalla police station and CIA.

The case had been progressing in the lower courts for the last few years, and on June 10 when the sitting judge enquired about the whereabouts of Ashiq Hussain, he was informed by the co-accused that he had been bailed out from Adiala Jail on June 9.Interestingly, Ashiq Hussain’s bail order carried the signature of Additional District and Session Judge (ADSJ) Pervez Qadeer Memon but his bail application had never been submitted in his court nor was the judicator hearing a bail case of the accused. It quickly emerged that Judge Memon had not issued the bail order.

On the other hand, when the record of the court was looked into, the forged robkar (bail order) had been entered in it, and the official court record-keeper had accompanied a police constable to Adiala Jail on June 9 to submit the release papers.“An FIR was then lodged with the Margalla police and seven people were arrested, including the police constable, the court record-keeper, a court entry clerk and an assistant of the lawyer of the accused,” a senior police officer told Dawn.

“The other three individuals are touts who had arranged the forged bail order and surety bonds for the release of the accused on bail,” the officer claimed, adding, “the investigators also recovered official documents from them, including robkars, and stamps.”

Subsequent investigations by the police have revealed that the main mastermind of the gang is a police constable stationed at the Industrial Area police station.

“He called the court record-keeper on June 9 and told him that he had the bail orders for the accused, and needed him to complete the official formalities. The record-keeper, who had left the premises, came back and recorded the robkar in the court with the help of an entry clerk of the court,” the investigating officer revealed.

Later, both the constable and the record-keeper went to the jail where they submitted the robkar to the prison administration and the accused was released in the evening.

“Immediately after his release, Ashiq Hussain flew to Dubai to avoid being arrested,” the police officer claimed.

According to the police officer, who requested anonymity, the police constable in question had acquired a reputation for such dubious work.

“He was posted as a dispatch rider with the Industrial Area police station, and his job was to collect court orders and serve them to the concerned individuals/departments. Mostly, he was stationed at the hawalaat pehra (the judicial lock-up of the court) where UTPs and convicts waited while being transported to and from jail and court,” said the officer.

It was here that the yet-to-be named police constable developed relations with court officials, including the record-keeper and the entry clerk, as well touts.

“They formed a network, and were actively involved in making forged court orders, robkars, and surety bonds,” the official added.

Their network was linked with many government departments, including the Revenue Department.

“The accused in custody have identified other accomplices who were helping them make forged property documents in rural areas that were submitted in the court as surety bond for bail,” the officer said.

One such case of forgery had come to the spotlight on June 1 when three individuals submitted forged land registry documents to the city’s lower court as surety for an accused arrested in a robbery case lodged with the Bhara Kahu police.

Even though the court granted bail to the accused, during verification of the document by the tehsildar and patwari of Bhara Kahu, the papers were found to be forged.

A case was registered with the Margalla police on June 12 against the three individuals.

Similarly, on May 26, a man submitted registry of lands with the Bhara Kahu to the court of the senior civil judge as a surety for the release of another robbery accused arrested by Shahzad Town police. However, during verification, the registry was
found to contain forged signatures of the tehsildar and patwari,

A case has been registered with the Margalla police against the man who had submitted the registry.

Discussing the dilemma such forged documents presents, a senior police officer told Dawn that a month back, the capital police had launched an operation against court absconders. In this regard, the city courts were approached for details of people who had submitted bonds for the bail of the accused.

“According to the police record, the details of surety bonds of 1,400 accused available in the court, but we were surprised that the lower judiciary had details of only 160 absconders. The rest of the bonds were missing from the court’s record,” he revealed.

The officer said it was suspected that the people who submitted the surety bonds for the release of the accused in connivance with the court staff had taken back the papers to avoid identification. “As a result, neither the accused nor the people who gave the surety for their release are traceable,” he added.