PAKISTAN: A court fails to arrest a fugitive police chief
AHRC-STM-145-2010 (July 6, 2010) : A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
Rana Maqbool Ahmed is a former Inspector General of Police of Sindh province and has been accused of the torture of and conspiracy to kill President Zardari when he was imprisoned in 1999. Rana has been absconding court and the Additional District Sessions Court, Karachi, capital of Sindh province, has issued a warrant for his arrest.
While the warrant was pending Rana appeared before the Lahore High Court, Punjab province, in a separate case. He sought protective bail from the Lahore High Court not to arrest him on the warrant that had been pending since 2008 at the Session Court of Karachi as he intended to surrender himself to this court. The Lahore High Court did not execute the warrant and instead set him free.
This judgement has come under severe criticism and has been perceived as a deviation from the normal practice of Pakistani courts. When an absconder appears before a court the court will take steps to arrest the person and execute the warrant and produce him before the court in which he is wanted. This general practice has been deviated from in this instance without any valid reason. This case is being perceived as a favour done for the former IGP for political reasons.
Meanwhile reports have appeared that the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court has openly associated with Rana on public occasions. Such open association of a Chief Justice with a person who has a pending arrest warrant has also created impressions that such acts are being done for political reasons.
Thus, this affair has become a scandal against the Lahore High Court and is being perceived as an act done as a personal favour for an accused that is under serious charges of torture and conspiracy to murder. As this matter has become a scandal public confidence in the independence of the judiciary has been damaged and it is the duty of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to investigate the matter and take appropriate action against the judges who appear to have acted for political reasons in protecting a fugitive from the process of law.
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