A report submitted by the Central Police Office (CPO) Punjab in the Lahore High Court (LHC) has revealed that the police department has neither the funds nor the resources to set up an anti-rape investigation unit.
According to the details, LHC Judge Ali Zia Bajwa on Wednesday rejected the bail of a rape accused and issued an order to reform the criminal justice system and remove the loophole. Justice Bajwa remarked on the occasion that “the increase in rape and sexual violence cases is a matter of concern for the country and society, government and security agencies are not fulfilling their responsibilities.”
At the same time, he directed that “joint investigation team (JIT) should be formed to investigate such cases, headed by SPs and also include DSPs, inspectors and female police officers.”
Barrister Muhammad Ahmed Pansota was acting as judicial assistant during the debate on the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2020 at the hearing on Wednesday.
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Speaking to The Independent Urdu, Barrister Ahmed Pansota said, “One of the accused in the rape case had applied for his bail. Why not under 2020? The honorable judge asked the police for an answer to this question, in response to which the police said that they were not aware of the new law. The law came into force in 2020 but we were not notified.”
“Justice Ali Zia Bajwa then called DIG Legal and asked him why he did not inform the police departments about the law,” the judicial assistant counsel said.
Furthermore, he said: “In this case, the court had sought my assistance to the extent of whether the ordinance was a good practice or not. Second, they asked me, ‘If there is a law under which you fail to investigate, what are the legal consequences?'”
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He said he told the court that if the investigation was not carried out under the law, he could face fines and three years imprisonment under section 22 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Assisting the court, he said that in general, three conditions of the ordinance have to be fulfilled, under which the ordinance can be brought. In this case, these conditions could have been met because in the context of the Zainab rape and murder case and the subsequent motorway rape case, there was an alarming situation which required legislation as soon as possible.
On Wednesday, the court also sought answers from the federal, provincial government and the IG’s office regarding the Anti-Rape (ITO) Ordinance. The CPO presented the criminal records of 36 districts across Punjab in the court.
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According to the report submitted by CPO Punjab, in the first seven months of this year, 13,307 and 20,942 cases were registered across the province under Schedule One and Two, including the investigation of one of the cases. However, none of these cases were investigated under the Investigation and Trial Ordinance 2020.
“It is a shocking revelation that no case has been decided so far, which is a testament to the incompetence and failure of the investigating agencies,” the judge said. The CPO Punjab report also revealed that the police neither had the money nor the resources to set up an anti-rape investigation unit. The police will initially need Rs 4.90 billion and Rs 2.85 billion annually to set up the unit so that they can implement the ordinance.
On the other hand, the reply submitted by the federal government said that the ordinance would be passed in the Senate before August 13.
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Judicial Assistant Barrister Ahmed Pansota told the court that the investigating agency did not act in accordance with the principles of transparency and its duties and that the investigating officer did not conduct the investigation in accordance with the law. He recommended to the court that misconduct action should be taken against the investigating officer.
Justice Ali Zia Bajwa issued a nine-page written decision for the implementation of the Anti-Rape (ITO) Ordinance 2020, stating that seven months have passed since the Anti-Rape (ITO) Ordinance came into force but has not been implemented. All the excuses of the police for not implementing the Anti-Rape Ordinance are unacceptable.
According to the verdict, by not following the anti-rape ordinance, the police have violated the law 34,249 times in seven months.
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The decision said that the report of Central Police Office Punjab has revealed the dull mentality and incompetence of the investigation agency and the DIG did not give a satisfactory answer to the query of non-implementation of law despite receiving billions of rupees. The court also directed the Inspector General (IG) Punjab to ensure implementation of the Anti-Rape Ordinance in the light of the verdict.
The decision also stated that senior police officers should conduct investigations in cases of abuse for a transparent and impartial investigation, however, officers below grade 17 should not be made a part of the investigation. A JIT should be set up under the Joint Investigation Schedule to investigate rape cases, comprising of one SP Investigation, one DSP, one SHO and one female police officer.
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