Court rejects plea for return of Rs1.6m given to police as bribe

Yousuf Katpar
Friday, Jun 14, 2024

A sessions court has dismissed an application seeking return of Rs1.6 million cash offered to Mochko police as bribe for allowing a truck carrying smuggled betel nuts.

Ajab Khan filed a criminal revision application challenging a judicial magistrate’s May 31 order rejecting his plea for returning the amount. After hearing arguments, Additional Sessions Judge (West) Sohail Ahmed Mashori observed that the money was directly linked to the alleged offence of bribery, which was intended to facilitate the illegal smuggling of betel nuts.

“Given the circumstances, the cash in question is a material piece of evidence crucial for the prosecution of the offence. The Magistrate’s order is found to be lawful as it aims to preserve evidence necessary for the adjudication of the offence,” he said, ruling, “The impugned order is just, legal and proper, therefore, it requires no interference.”

The judge noted: “The refusal of a significant bribe by a lower-ranking officer to allow alleged smuggling goods exemplifies an act of remarkable integrity and courage. Despite the potential temptation of financial gain, the officer chose to uphold the law and ethical standards, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to their duty and the principles of justice. This kind of behaviour is crucial for maintaining public trust in law enforcement and the legal system. It sends a clear message that illegal activities and corruption are unacceptable, reinforcing the rule of law. The officer’s actions can serve as an inspiration and a benchmark for others, emphasizing the importance of ethical conduct in both professional and personal life.”

He said this case was a tip of iceberg, which indicates mega smuggling by mischievous elements causing huge losses in taxes to the national exchequer. The judge asked the inspector general of police to install high-resolution CCTV cameras at strategic locations to monitor and record activities in real-time and deploy advanced scanning equipment to inspect vehicles and cargo at border checkpoints to detect contraband and undeclared goods.

According to state prosecutor Muhammad Ashraf Qaiser, on May 18, 2024, a police team on patrol intercepted a suspicious truck loaded with cement sacks. Upon checking, the sacks were found to be filled with betel nuts. Subsequently, chhalia and the vehicle were seized as its owner failed to produce valid documents of the vehicle.

The prosecutor said the applicant gave the police Rs1.6 million cash as a bribe to allow the truck carrying smuggled betel nuts. He said the seized betel nuts and vehicle were handed over to customs for further action, while the Mochko lodged a bribery case. The cash was connected with the case and cannot be returned at this stage, he argued.