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PAKISTAN: Government Refuses Filing of a FIR Against PM

PAKISTAN: Government Refuses to Allow the Filing of a FIR Against Prime Minister And the Chief Minister of Punjab

The government, once again has refused to follow the orders of the Lahore High Court which directed police to register a First Information Report (FIR) which names amongst others, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the Chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Shahbaz Sharif and 19 others including federal and provincial ministers and government personnel as responsible for the killing of 14 persons in a police shooting on a peaceful protest.

Earlier, the Sessions Court in Lahore had ordered police to register the First Information Report which names 21 federal and provincial authorities including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as responsible for the incident on 17th June 2014 where police blindly fired at protesters of Minhajul Quran killing 14 persons on the spot including two women. 85 persons including women and children received bullet wounds following this shooting. Following the police shooting frenzy, when family members of those killed and had attempted to file First Information Report (FIR) calling for an investigation into the shooting and naming those responsible, police have flatly refused to file the FIR. The refusal prompted, the leader of the protest, Minhajul Quran to file a case in the sessions’ court to allow the victims of the shooting to file the FIR with the police – to which the sessions court agreed and made order to the affect that the families of the victims be allowed to file the FIR.

However, four federal misters; Pervaiz Rasheed - Minister of Information; Khawaja Asif – Minister of Defence, Khawaja Saad Rafique - Railways Minister and Abid Sher Ali - Minister of State for Water and Power challenged the order of the sessions’ court in the Lahore High Court. The Lahore High Court turned down the petitions and restored the decision of sessions’ court for filing the FIR from the victims.

In the meantime, on August 26, a report of the Judicial Commission – that was appointed to investigate the shooting incident - was made public through the media by ‘unnamed sources’. The government conspicuously kept the report secret for 17 days. The Commission report has held the government responsible for the killings of 14 persons and stated that in the aftermath of the incident police acted on government’s orders. The Punjab provincial government has not denied the public of the contents of the report but says instead that the report was received and was being examined and further stated that it required analysis as it was inconclusive in nature.

However, the judgement on appeal by the Lahore High Court directed the police to complete investigations before arresting any person named in the Minhajul Quran Secretariat application or the FIR. Meanwhile, government officials announced to the media that the findings of the Judicial Commission to investigate into this incident were not binding on the government as there were no conclusive findings.

Following the order of the session’s court, which allowed family members of those killed to file a First Information Report, Lahore police refused to file the FIR. Lahore police have reminded them that that government is intending to file an appeal against the sessions’ court order before the high court and therefore the police cannot entertain the request to file the FIR. The police deliberately ignoring substantial evidence and statements of eyewitnesses had instead lodged a one-sided FIR on the complaint of a police official. 72 days have been passed of the incident but still FIR has not been filed.

Meanwhile, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), consisted of police, civilian and military intelligence officials, has also declared the chief minister of Punjab and the government responsible for the incident of killing of 14 persons in Model Town, Lahore.

The government’s continuous escapades from adhering to court orders and not allowing police to register a First Information Report is a blatant manifestation that the government wants to rule the country by undermining the law.

This is a clear depiction of the non-existence of the rule of law in Pakistan. Worse, not only is it the non-existence of rule of law but by the denial by the police, for any victim to file a FIR to pursue their grievances is a total failure of the system of criminal justice in Pakistan. In the presence of such a flawed criminal justice system impartial investigation becomes a redundant phenomenon , a phenomenon which could always however be made to work based on the whims and fancies of the elite and the politically affluent and not based on rule of law and a system of justice. The denial of this basic right to victims for filing a first complaint against any alleged perpetrator/s is in real terms a denial of the basic justice.

Further, a First Information Report if lodged does not automatically find those named in the report as guilty – in this instance the filing of the FIR would not amount to the prime minister, chief minister and other 19 federal and provincial ministers including the high police officials being guilty of the crimes alleged and would eventually be arrested. This fact was also explicitly explained in the court order that “arrest of a suspect was not necessary during the course of investigation and general impression in this regard was misconceived because a person named in FIR was not to be arrested straightaway upon registration of the case or as a matter of course unless there was sufficient incriminating evidence culpability of the accused”

Therefore, the government must take the initiative and allow the aggrieved parties to file the FIR as ordered by two of Pakistan’s courts and allow the law to take its own course.

This would be biggest incompetence still on the part of the Pakistan government in trying to halt the due process of the law, by interfering with the administration of the criminal justice mechanisms.

The Government has sent a clear message to the people of Pakistan that influential and powerful persons can escape the law with impunity but that law does not apply to them but the law applies only on the poor.

In a country where there does not exist a proper criminal justice system nor a system based on the rule of law, the government by denying the rights to its citizens even to file an FIR, falls deeper into an abyss from where there will be no escape - creates apathy and a situation of lawlessness from which there is no return.

ENDS

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