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Denial of Circumstantial Evidence Doctrine

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Regional Geopolitical Analyst & Member Board of Experts,
Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS), Islamabad.

Worse policing system is one of the main hurdles in the supremacy of law and of course seeking justice in the country. Unprofessional approach, serious capacity building issue, compromised conduct and unfriendly dealings with the people vividly reflect its perpetual mediocre performance against criminals in the society. Society has been paying a heavy price for constant abjuration of circumstantial evidence doctrine, predisposed interpretation of non-verbal communication, candid study of optics and last but not least, violating basic concepts and SOPs of the criminal law/incident investigation.
There is an urgent need of rigorous structural and conceptual reforms in the policing system of Pakistan. Most recently, Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan stated pathetic performance of Punjab policing system which should be an eye opener for the policy makers. The prime minister always subjugated the issue of police reforms in his election campaign and now two years have been completed but police has not yet altered its overall outlook towards dealing with criminal or suspects elements in the country especially in the province of Punjab.
The Criminal Justice System (CJS) in Pakistan comprises of five components i.e. the police, judiciary, prisons, prosecution, probation and parole. Investigation system comprising of investigation, law, and information technology departments/sections have not been instigating decisive actions against criminal elements in the society and it has its peak in Punjab especially in the metropolitan cities like, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi etc.
Law section of investigation of Punjab Police is the weakest and one of the most corrupt departments in the province. Laws are usually self-interpreted which use to give advantage culprits instead of assisting plaintiffs. Most of the reports are twisted and words are swallowed due to visible and invisible political or government ill designs and personal taboos.
Law officers in various police stations and especially controlling offices do not care about severity of the crime matters and always in the state of denial by not evaluating other valuable interconnected incidents/evidences, body language, physical posturing/signaling, and non-verbal traits of the targeted objects to draw a unpretentious conclusion and befitting proposition, good for the police department and of course, courts of the land to eradicate crimes in the society.
Penning of routine reports have now become bleeding wounds for the innocent people and rightful plaintiffs to protect their basic rights of association, free choice, assembly, property and last but not least, life. Law and constitution of the land are supreme but law officers and senior police officers are not holy popes to whom we should not differ.
Punjab Safe Cities Authority is a value-addition in the policing system of the province but unfortunately, investigation officers do not take advantage of its technical assistance to probe heinous crimes/white-collar crimes against humanity and innocent people at large. It has vast network of crammers which provide first hand reference against criminality and are the real savior of people against physical assault.
The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) prohibits causing hurt for extracting confessions. Article 14(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan prohibits torture in custody and states, “No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.” Article 10 of the Constitution forbids arbitrary arrest and detention. Section 176 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) demands a magisterial inquiry in most of the criminal cases but as is common knowledge, such inquiries seldom take place. Appropriate orders of the courts have been annulled because of incompetence of the law officers of police who do not care about all possible X-Factors in concurrence of crimes in the society.
Unfortunately, our police know only one method of investigation. Investigation more often than not means extraction of confession under physical pressure. True, the law does not accept confessions obtained under duress. Still the practice continues because the police officers know that once a confession, however secured, is substantiated with evidence uncovered by the accused, the latter will be much too concerned with the risk of conviction to complain of violence inflicted on him.
Even after 6 decades and a new generation of police officers/seniors later, informal and extralegal procedures and practices remain unchanged, and the philosophy of curtailing innocent people with biased reports, conceded internal mechanism, amateurish approach, glorification of self, gratification of official authority/power, unscientific methods, illiteracy of artificial intelligence apparatus and obsession of blind perusal especially badly ignoring institute of circumstantial evidence, dissemination of non-verbal communication and last but not least disavowal of rationality has become institutionalized.
Political interference is on the peak in the Punjab Police System (PPS) many MPAs, provincial ministers and officer bearers are alleging undue pressure on police administration to maneuver outcome of investigation procedures and law reports. There is an urgent need of depoliticizing of police in the province of Punjab.
Writ petition no. 4126/2020 of Muhammad Nashit Advocate Vs. Police Station Qilla Gujjar Singh, Lahore etc. remained pending in the office of SP Investigation Mughalpura Lahore for so many months. The plaintiff filed an application in the court of Ex-Officio Justice of Peace/Additional: Sessions Judge Lahore to seek record of from Punjab Safe City Lahore. Subsequently, court ordered SP Investigation Mughalpura Lahore to conduct inquiry of the serious family matter(theft of expensive items) after seeing all available record (audio & video) and submit the report. First letter was dispatched with bad intention and was not delivered to relevant office/section of the Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA). Second letter was resent and received in the PSCA. A police inspector from Ghari Shahu was deputed to collect the desired record from the PSCA. He secured only two still pictures showing no sign of criminality with the high claim that there was no extra record available in the PSCA.
The plaintiff personally approached DIG PSCA and requested for the help which was provided and ultimately 15 pictures along with video of the said incident was retrieved from the back-up office of the same. It was delivered to law officer of the SP Investigation Mughalpura Lahore who assured complete transparency and merit in the conclusion of the said writ petition of the plaintiff. So called meritorious report was submitted in the court indicating no act of violence and criminality. It was totally biased and partial by twisting the factual position and ignoring the basic injunctions of criminal law and basis of circumstantial evidence. When contacted by the plaintiff, the said law officer revealed political pressure for this.
During the whole incident attitude of said investigation office and law officers has been unfriendly and not up the mark of civility. True spirits of justice, merit, truth, transparency, impartiality and even general decency was severely desecrated.
It is an eye opener for Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chief Minister of the province, Home secretary, IG police and even CCPO. The plaintiff requests all the authorities to take appropriate action to safe a free falling of the deity of justice in the country.

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