In various police stations across Multan, thousands of cases have been pending in courts for the past four years. These cases encompass a wide range of offences, including murder, sexual assault, narcotics, robbery, bogus checks, fraud, breach of trust, deception, kidnapping, attempted murder, violence, theft, possession of illegal weapons, and threats.
To ensure swift justice, former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry implemented a judicial policy in 2009, under which a specific time frame was established to dispose of cases, and the police were obligated to submit case files to the courts within 14 days. However, there was a lack of enforcement of these provisions on the part of the police.
Like other districts in the province, the number of cases in Multan is also increasing, which are not being sent to trial courts in a formal submission on time.
In the Multan district, over 33,000 cases from 32 police stations, including those from the Women Crisis Center, were not forwarded to the courts for hearings from 2019 to 2023.
The challans (case files) for 96 cases in 2019, 337 cases in 2020, 2,733 cases in 2021, and 6,370 cases in 2022 have not been filed.
In the past year, a total of 35,000 FIRs were registered. Out of these, 10,842 case files were sent to the courts, while 24,323 are still awaiting the commencement of hearings.
In cases where the maximum penalty could be seven years of imprisonment, the courts must decide within six months, while cases involving expected sentences of over seven years, life imprisonment, or death penalty must be determined by different jurisdictional courts within one year.
Legal experts attribute the prevailing situation to the outdated methods of the police investigation, non-compliance with court orders, lackadaisical behaviour on the part of both parties and the frivolous use of adjournments.
Additionally, it is highlighted that the weak coordination between the prosecution, police, and the judiciary also contributes significantly to this state of affairs.
Legal expert Farrukh Taimoor Chandio suggests that there is a crucial need for an increase in the police force along with the requirement to enhance their training. With the current workforce, neither is control being established over crimes nor are cases being handled effectively. He also emphasizes the importance of placing trust in lawyers by amending existing laws or introducing new ones to eliminate their reservations and concerns.
Senior lawyer Altaf Mahmood Qureshi of the Multan District Bar Association suggests that the police should promptly file case reports and initiate proceedings against suspects for cases that require thorough investigation. He believes that swift action should be taken to apprehend the culprits and present them in court for trial in cases of a serious nature, and this can lead to the resolution of the current situation.
He suggests that police officers should focus on investigating cases, ensure the case's merit, and complete the records at police stations. This way, there will be no complaints of delays in sending case files to the courts.
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In this regard, the spokesperson for Multan Police clarifies that the senior officers in the department are seriously addressing this issue. The Chief Police Officer (CPO) has issued directives aimed at improving police prosecution, ensuring timely submission of case files to the courts, and handling other legal matters more efficiently.
Furthermore, in a meeting between the police and the prosecution department, recommendations were made to address the shortcomings in the inclusion and investigation of cases and to improve the quality of investigations. The CPO has instructed police officers to communicate better with the prosecution branch and ensure the timely submission of pending case files to the relevant courts.
Legal expert Mian Bilal Arshad states that in some cases, incomplete case files submitted by the police cause delays. In this context, he suggests that the police and the prosecution department should jointly develop a standard operating procedure. The police should also abandon traditional practices and adopt modern approaches to prepare trial case files promptly, relieving the litigants burdened with the hassles of police stations and courts.
Published on 28 Sep 2023