Justice delivered… only if the price is right

LAHORE - There is massive miscarriage of justice at the hands of law enforcement agencies, especially police and the lower staff, in magisterial courts, where both court officials and police officials act in connivance to delay the delivery of justice to the litigants.

Under the very nose of the lower judiciary, court staff earns thousands of rupees in bribes each day and puts the litigants and lawyers in a fix.

The parties have to bribe court officials for almost every action they take, like getting sureties (Machalka) and orders of bails signed by the presiding officers, preparation of robkars (reference forwarded for releasing of an accused) and to forward the same to the jail administration in time.
The court officials even do not start typing the order dictated by the judge until their palm is not greased.Winking and complex body language that gives suggestive vibes is more prominent than the court language itself in the suffocating and crammed courtrooms.

One such case studied by Pakistan Today takes a deeper look at the proceedings and the process of awarding bail to an accused in a magisterial court at Model Town Courts.

Four accused, Shervan, Ajeet Gill, Ahsan and Dawood, all Christian college-going youths, were booked in a case under Section 186 and 506 of the Criminal Procedure Code on new year’s night near Ittefaq Hospital.

They were arrested for allegedly obstructing the police in performing their duty and threatening them of dire consequences.

The Liaquatabad SHO himself arrested the accused on the spot and kept them in illegal custody the whole night. Sources in Liaquatabad police station said no FIR was registered against the accused even after 12 hours. Hebron Gill, a priest and relative of the accused, told Pakistan Today that when they approached the concerned SHO along with their lawyer for the copy of the FIR, they were asked to come after 20 minutes, during which an FIR was hastily registered.They FIR’s copy was provided, but Liquatabad investigation in-charge Rana Ghafoor told them that the accused had not been handed over to them.

“When I asked him who were the accused sitting with him, he took all the boys’ names and said though they were in his custody, officially they were still with the SHO,” Hebron Gill said.
The priest further said: “The (investigation wing) demanded Rs 1,500 against each accused for producing them before the magisterial court at Model Town. We settled the matter at a lesser amount. On way to the courts, the police took Rs 500 as fuel charges and Rs 500 for the cops appointed at a post, I don’t know what for.”

Hebron, who had just arrived from Dubai on some missionary project, said: “Judicial Magistrate Malik Amir Awan immediately granted bail to the accused on the remand paper and directed submission of surety bonds worth Rs 20,000 for each accused. All the court staff started roaming around us. Some offered us to get the surety bond signed by the judge and others to get the court order typed. In each case, the offer was not out of humility but for want of bribe. Repeatedly, they forced our counsel to broker a deal just to let the sureties prepared in time.”

He said the police, who were legally bound to release the accused from handcuffs there and then, disappeared and took all the accused to the police van.“As it took some time in getting the sureties prepared, they kept on roaming around us and parked the vehicle beneath the under-construction bridge outside the Model Town Courts. We offered them Rs 2,000 for releasing the accused but they remained adamant to have more. Being disappointed, the cop accompanying the IO repeatedly called us from his personal mobile number,” the priest added.

“When they (police) felt nothing could happen now, they left the accused at Kot Lakhpat Jail. However, one accused who was juvenile and had to be housed at Camp Jail, was brought to the police station, as the police had managed to strike a deal with his heirs. The IO got Rs 7,000 for doing the lawful act which he was otherwise bound to do,” Hebron said.

“The jail administration released the accused the next day but we had to spent Rs 200 for getting the robkar prepared, Rs 100 for getting the attested photocopy of the bail order and Rs 100 for making it sure that the robkar reached the jail administration in time.”Commenting on this issue, senior Advocate Supreme Court Mushtaq Ahmad Mohal said the police was legally bound to release the accused in the courtroom after the bail was granted to them by the judicial magistrate. Sending them to jail was totally illegal and unjustified notwithstanding their sureties were accepted and signed by the presiding officer, he further added.

Liaquatabad SHO Idrees Qureshi said he had nothing to do with the episode. However, Investigation In-charge Rana Ghafoor said sureties were not timely provided to him for releasing the accused, but he could not answer why the accused were not released in the court after being granted bail. About the release of one of the accused, he said he was less than 18 years of age and was to be kept at Camp Jail.

“But the time to receive the accused was over, so we brought him to the police station,” he said.
Qureshi said “allegations” of receiving bribes was no new news for police.

Source: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2013/01/04/city/lahore/justice-delivered-only-if-the-price-is-right/