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Bahria Town race: Interior ministry reluctant to issue red warrants

ISLAMABAD: The interior ministry is reluctant to issue red warrants for the arrest of Atif Sheikh, the organiser of the Bahria Town car race that claimed five lives on December 5. This was stated by Advocate General of Punjab Khawaja Haris on Friday during the hearing of the case in the Supreme Court.

Haris earlier moved a Civil Miscellaneous Application (CMA) before the court stating that authorities concerned (Ministry of Interior, FIA, Foreign Office) were not showing interest in issuing red warrants for the arrest of Atif Sheikh. The court gave directions to the authorities to act upon the request of Advocate General of Punjab.

Haris submitted his report before a four-member bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday. He said Syed Kaleem Imam, former Inspector General Islamabad Police tried to use his influence and sway the investigation in favour of Ali Riaz, Chief Executive of Bahria Town and son of property tycoon Malik Riaz.

The court directed Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), interior and foreign ministries to take steps to arrest Sheikh.

On the written complaint of the investigation officer the court also issued a notice to Imam to appear before the court in the next hearing which is scheduled on February 15 and explain his position. The officer told the court that Imam called him and asked the officer to favour Ali Riaz in the investigations.

Atif Sheikh, on the other hand, fled to Dubai while his trial was underway. The court took serious note of the police negligence due to which the accused could not be arrested before leaving from Peshawar airport. “You disappointed us, you did not even initiate a probe against the driver and doctor who helped Atif flee the country,” Chief Justice asked DIG Maj (retd) Mubasharullah, who is investigating the matter on the recommendation of Inspector General of Punjab.

The lawyers of Ali Riaz told the apex court that their client was not responsible for the car race tragedy. They said that the aggrieved families had submitted an affidavit in this regard. To this the Chief Justice said, “Individuals have no say in this case because the crime was committed against the state.”

Justice Ramday said that influential people from our society considered that they were above the law. “They don’t bother to follow the procedure,” he added.

Ali’s lawyers said that the crime was compoundable (forgivable) therefore compromise was made. “The patch up or compromise between parties concerned could not be effective while the trial of the accused was underway,” said Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday. While referring to CrPC section 345 Ramday said that the court permission was also necessary in this connection.

“This is a fight between law and lawlessness,” added the Chief Justice. “What kind of slogans do you (lawyers) raise outside the court regarding the rule of law, while you are appearing before the court on behalf of those who have no respect for it. If we leave Ali Riaz then why not do the same in the case of Atif Sheikh,” added Justice Ramday, replying to the lawyers of Ali Riaz.

Hamid Khan, a prominent leader of the lawyer movement, is the lawyer of Ali Riaz. He submitted before the court that Ali could not be held responsible in this case. Justice Ramday said as per Motor Vehicle Ordinance, the person who allows such an event to take place, would be arrested.

The court also turned down Hamid Khan’s request to direct the lower judiciary to listen to his stance. The bench remarked, “We have already mentioned in the court order that the lawyers should follow the procedure as per law.”

“Let the things happen as per law. Even if some relatives of mine are facing the music for their negligence in the case,” Justice Ramday told Hamid Khan.

The court in its order observed that despite the efforts of police some accused in the case could not be arrested so far. The court asked the police to continue its probe in the matter without accepting any influence or pressure from high ups.

Express Tribune

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