Lahore: When Tahir Mahmood’s father was abducted by Akmal Zia, Zahid and accomplices in Rawalpindi in December 2012, he immediately rushed to the police. He found the police to be of no help as the investigation officer (IO) concerned couldn’t recover his father or even arrest the accused after two months of the incident.
During the period, the accused murdered one of his uncles.
“It was devastating for me and I was left with no choice but to withdraw the case or heavily bribe the police officer,” he says, adding he was to avail the first option and leave the country in sheer disappointment when a friend advised him to get the investigation officer changed to set things right.
“Following his advice, I moved the Rawalpindi CPO (Central Police Office) in March 2013 and had an inquiry initiated against the police officer. The inquiry found the police officer guilty of misconduct. A new investigation officer was assigned and arrests were made possible.”
Mahmood is one lucky person who followed a timely advice and had the investigation officer changed unlike many complainants who are not aware of the right to change investigation.
Faulty or partial investigation is a common complaint among those who have to deal with police in the course of investigation.
“Change of investigation is a right that has to be clearly understood. We do not spare anybody who conducts faulty investigation for some reason. So far, many officers of the rank of SSP, SP, DSP and others have been penalised for faulty investigation,” Punjab Additional IGP Investigation Tariq Masood Yasin told News Lens Pakistan.
Providing data that shows that how investigators accused of bad working have been punished, Yasin says a DSP has been demoted and three other officers slapped with penalties. “Seven inspectors, 32 Sub-Inspectors, 20 Assistant Sub-inspectors and three head constables have been sacked in Punjab. Apart from three Inspectors, two Sub-Inspectors and two Assistant Sub-Inspectors have been compulsorily retired for misconduct,” he says.
He said as many as 128 officers of different ranks have been demoted and other punishments run into hundreds to make sure that the bad stuff is not promoted further. This is the data about the year 2014 and same practice is going on and we are trying to end all wrongdoings.
“Here, education of both public and police officers is imperative to bring about a change; we shall continue it with all available methods and procedures,” says Yasin.
Azhar Mahdi, a resident of Sant Nagar in Lahore, told News Lens Pakistan when his widowed sister Hadiqa Batool’s in-laws lost a property case, they (in-laws) launched a fake police report of attempted murder against him. The investigation officer carried out a faulty inquiry, proved him guilty after taking bribe from his sister’s in-laws and he had to spend a week in the lockup.
“We were not aware by that time that if an investigation officer is not doing his job properly, we can have him changed.”
“Luckily, a family friend guided on the procedure. We wrote to the police high-ups and the Investigation of the case was changed that later proved him innocent,” says Mahdi.
“Three robbers took away cash and jewelry worth thousands of rupees from my house and were arrested later but owing to faulty investigation and a weak case prepared by the investigation wing, they were declared innocent by the court,” says Saeeda Rehman, a resident of Johar Town in Lahore.
To keep a check on faulty investigation, we need to make the investigation wing of police completely independent. In west, public prosecutors visit the crime scene along with police and forensic experts. This is lacking in Pakistan, Advocate Khawaja Muhammad Latif of the Lahore High Court told News Lens Pakistan when contacted.
He says faulty investigation always weakens the prosecution of a case which at time helps criminals get free. “We need to train investigators in the latest scientific and investigative techniques as per international standards to help equip them with collecting forensic evidence from the crime scene.”
Citing an example, Advocate Latif says being a criminal lawyer he comes across murder cases where empties of bullets do not match with weapons of offence, thus weakening a case in a court of law.
District Public Prosecutor Azhar Hussain told News Lens Pakistan the standard operating procedures (SOPs) agreed upon between police and prosecution for effective co-operation in Punjab had never been implemented.
According to him, mere shifting of investigation will not help much unless police change their mindset and carry out the investigation in a professional manner using innovative technique.
“The investigation reports they (police) submit in courts do not match with statements of witnesses which also weakens cases,” he says.
The Punjab Police Order is clear on the issue and it’s Section 18-A says: “Transfer of Investigation (amendment) Article 18-A of the Police Order states that within seven working days of the filing of an application, the Head of District Police may, after obtaining opinion of the District Standing Board and for reasons to be recorded in writing, transfer investigation of a case from the investigation officer to any other investigation officer or a team of investigation officers of a rank equal to or higher than the rank of the previous investigation officer.
“Section 18-A (2) says If the Head of District Police has decided an application for transfer of investigation, the Regional Police Officer may, within seven working days of the filing of an application, after obtaining opinion of the Regional Standing Board and for reasons to be recorded in writing, transfer investigation of a case from the investigation officer or a team of investigation officers to any other investigation officer or a team of investigation officers of a rank equal to or higher than the rank of the previous investigation officer or officers.
“Section 18-A (3) states If a Regional Police Officer has decided an application for transfer of an investigation, the Provincial Police Officer may, after obtaining opinion of a Standing Review Board, transfer investigation of a case to an investigation officer or a team of investigation officers of a rank equal to or higher than the rank of the previous investigation officer or officers.
“The Section 18-A (4) states that if a case under investigation with a District Investigation Branch may only be transferred to another officer or a team of officers of the District Investigation Branch, Regional Investigation Branch or Provincial Investigation Branch.”