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SC finds Punjab police protecting influential persons in drag race tragedy

ISLAMABAD, Feb 15 (APP): The Supreme Court on Tuesday termed a report submitted by Rawalpindi police over drag car race incident unsatisfactory in which five persons lost their lives on December 5 last year and observed that the police officers were trying to save the skins of influential persons by making the weak scapegoats.A four-Judge bench of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Muhammad Sair Ali, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday on a human rights case related to tragedy also directed the counsels for the accused to make statements on February 28 regarding compromises reached between the victims’ families and the accused.

At the outset of proceedings, the Advocate General Punjab (AG) Khajwa Haris also admitted that there were various loopholes in the police investigation process.

He said for the arrest of Atif Sheikh, an organizer, the Federal Investigation Agency was not cooperating.

Rana Mobashir, the investigation officer, apprised that name of Atif Sheikh was not on the Exit Control List at that time as investigation was pending.

To bench’s query, Advocate General said that there was no evidence against Ali Riaz so far.

Kaleem Imam, former IGP Islamabad also appeared in response to a notice issued to him for allegedly trying to influence the investigation process and he rendered his unconditional apology.

The bench accepted his apology and warned him to be careful in future.
The bench was apprised by the counsels for accused Naveed Anjam and Syed Zulfiqar Hussain Naqvi, that compromises had been reached between the parties and it was being submitted in the trial court.
They said that the victims families had forgiven them in the name of Allah.

The bench asked Hamid Khan, counsel for Ali Riaz, to apprise them whether it was really done in the name of Allah or else! to which the counsel expressed his ignorance.

The Chief Justice remarked that Khan had done a great service by securing compensation of Rs 25 million for a widow in another case and expressed the hope that he would do the same in this case too.
Justice Khalil ur Rehman Ramday questioned what was the fault of driver when the police was reluctant to lay its hands on the people who organized the event.

“What is the fault of Atif Sheikh! where he fits in! If our agencies which are our tools, perform in this manner then tell us to leave the issues,” he added.

Addressing police officials he said “Five people were killed in the incident and anyone who tries to hush up the matter is guilty of murder himself. Someone has the moral courage to come and admit that he has committed a fault.”

He further said that circumstantial evidences were sufficient to proceed against the accused.

On these evidences, people had been hanged, he said while enumerating one of his verdict in which he upheld sentence of a husband.

He said when about 10,000 spectators were there and the advertisements were given in press then how could the owner of Bahria town remain in dark about the mega event!
He said that he would not leave the apex Court with a guilty mind that influential people were not brought to book.
To bench’s query AG apprised that there were 30 sponsors of the event including PSO, PTCL etc.

The Chief Justice said that Atif Sheikh was drawing a salary of Rs 50,000 and could he be in position to arrange such a mega event!
He said prima facie, all these sponsors were also equally responsible for the incident.

Justice Ramday said if compromise had been reached between parties he would not approve it unless victims were duly compensated.
Hearing was put off till February 28.

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