SHO in hot water over ‘bizarre’ FIR against teenage scrap dealer

Our Correspondent
Sunday, May 29, 2022

Taking exception to the arrest of a teenage scrap dealer over his alleged involvement in a petty crime, a Karachi court on Saturday ordered an investigation against the station house officer (SHO) of the Aziz Bhatti police station and a head constable.

District East Judicial Magistrate Sheikh Abbas Mehdi ordered the release of 15-year-old Muhammad Rizwan, who had been booked in a case lodged under Section 411 (dishonestly receiving or retaining stolen property) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against a surety of Rs100,000.

Rizwan had been arrested on May 25 after allegedly being caught in possession of stolen motorcycle parts, including a fuel tank, a chain cover, wheel rims with tyre, and a silencer.

The defence counsel told the court that his client is innocent and has been falsely implicated in the case by the police for his inability to grease their palms, adding that no incriminating material is available on record to substantiate the charge against the accused.

After perusing the case record, the judicial magistrate observed that the FIR is “very weird and bizarre in its nature”. “A bare reading of the FIR reveals that the complainant, the HC, acted maliciously, ironically and nastily in order to book the accused in the FIR with the permission and consent of the SHO Aziz Bhatti police station,” he said.

When the court asked the investigating officer if there is any complaint of the recovered items having been stolen, he replied in the negative. “Is there any evidence available to show the items were stolen?” the magistrate further asked the IO, who again responded with a “no”.

Firstly, noted the court, there was nothing to show that the recovered items were stolen, and secondly, there was nothing on record to show that the accused was knowingly retaining stolen items.

The magistrate said the SHO and the complainant curtailed the teenager’s liberty, which is a basic human right according to national and international laws.

They also violated Section 29 of the Police Act 1861, which stipulates punishment for a police officer found guilty of any violation of duty or wilful breach or neglect of any rule or regulation or lawful order made by the competent authority, he added.

The court said that the police who are supposed to protect the citizens’ rights to dignity, liberty and protection have themselves put these at stake and rather been found to be violating and misusing their official positions.

It court ordered the East Zone DIG to hold an impartial inquiry into the matter and initiate departmental action against the complainant, Ghulam Hussain, and the Aziz Bhatti SHO, and sought a compliance report from him within 10 days.

The court directed the IO to conduct a free and fair investigation into the case and submit the final challan within the stipulated time.

The court also issued a show-cause notice to the SHO and the head constable to explain as to why legal proceedings might not be initiated against them for not releasing the accused using their powers provided under the Criminal Procedure Code. Both officers will have to appear in person before the magistrate with a reply on May 30, it said.