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Bahria Town race case ‘drag-ging’ to influence

ISLAMABAD: Former Inspector General of Police Syed Kaleem Imam on Tuesday rendered an unconditional apology for trying to influence the investigations in Bahria Town car race case. Moreover, the Supreme Court (SC) again reprimanded the investigation officials for the slow progress on the case.

The SC accepted an apology by Kaleem Imam who was accused of influencing the investigation on behalf of Ali Riaz, son of property tycoon Malik Riaz. The court was told Imam called up the investigation officer asking him to favour Ali Riaz.

In response, Imam, who is presently serving as Director Intelligence Bureau, appeared before the court and submitted an apology stating, “One of the victims’ families of the car race (in which five people lost their lives on December 5, 2010) were related to me. If any negative impression was conveyed due to my phone call, I apologise. I am at the mercy of this court.”
The court found irregularities in the police investigation against those accused.

Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Haris told the court that Ali Riaz had not been arrested so far because there was no evidence against him.
“People were hanged even on circumstantial evidence in many murder cases,” Justice Ramday said, countering his stance.

A four-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the case and asked the Advocate General and police officials to clearly state if they did not have the courage to take action against influential people. “[If so,] we will stop pursuing the case.”

The lawyers of Bahria Town Chief Executive Ali Riaz, who gave permission for the race, told the court that the bereaved families forgave him “solely in the name of Allah”. The court then asked why were the other accused not treated with the same compassion.
“Is it true they forgave your client solely in the name of God?” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asked the defence lawyers, including a prominent leader of the lawyers’ movement, Hamid Khan, who refused to comment.

Thereafter, Justice Ramday said, “Only influential people have the right to be exempted in the name of Allah. The marketing manager and the driver are too lowly to merit forgiveness.”

However, Zulfiqar Naqvi, another lawyer, told the court that consolidation was made after compensation was given to the concerned families.

The court directed him to produce the terms and conditions of the consolidation and remarked that the same benefits would be extended to other accused in the case.

DIG Mubasharullah, who has been appointed by IG Punjab to investigate the matter, told the court that the marketing manager of Bahria Town took responsibility for the case therefore action was not taken against Ali Riaz.

The court rejected this stance and asked the lawyers for citation of the relevant motor vehicles act that holds the person who permits such events equally responsible.

“It is better for the accused to come in the court and follow the set procedure for consolidation,” the court said. “The accused are much too clever. Instead of appearing in court they are pursuing other options,” Justice Chaudhry said.

“Why are you issuing red and black warrants only for the arrest of one of the organisers of the race (Atif Sheikh)?” Justice Ramday asked. He added, “Why have you kept the driver and the manager, who is an employee of Bahria Town, behind bars? If those, who staged the race, are not responsible, then how can the driver and an employee be held accountable?”
The chief justice added, “Mubasharullah, you have shattered our confidence.”

Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Haris told the court that despite their efforts, Atif Sheikh, the organiser of the drag race, who is well-connected with the officials of the Federal Investigation Agency and the interior ministry, could not be repatriated.
The hearing was adjourned till February 28.

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