Sep 11 - 17, 2000
Badrul Arafeen Bhatti did his LLB from Government
Islamia Law College Karachi. He is practising law since 1995. An
expert in criminal law he pleads cases at City Court as well as High
Court in Karachi. He successfully defended the former Inspector
General of Police Sindh, Rana Maqbool, as the assistant defense lawyer
in the famous aeroplane case of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He
runs a registered social welfare organisation, Islah-e-Maashrah
Welfare Trust, which provides free ration to the needy, organise
medical camps. It has also provided loans to the displaced Kashmiris
as well as Afghan Mujahideens. He has financed the welfare works
personally without any donations from outside. He also offers free
legal help to defend the poor under-trial prisoners both personally as
well as through his organisation. He has helped arranged bails by
providing personal surety. He successfully helped in freeing 11
Bengalis some years ago during the rounding up operations in Karachi.
He was instrumental to start a campaign in 1996 which demanded the
withdrawal of immense financial benefits to the former president
Ghulam Ishaq Khan including Rs 200,000 funds for his personal library
each year. The campaign succeeded in the withdrawal of some of the
benefits to the former president which were costing the exchequers
huge amounts of money every year.
PAGE: There is a general impression that
procuring justice is very hard in Pakistan, particularly for the poor.
What are your comments?
Badar: It is sad that despite gaining
independence 53 years ago we are still following the same old system
of our colonial masters. The judicial system is no exception. Look at
our criminal law — it is the State Vs the accused. I feel that it is
single biggest detriment to the justice in the country as it leaves
all power to the government depriving the victim of any power. The
various levels of criminal judicial process in our country comprise
Judicial Magistrate, Session Court, High Court and Supreme Court in
the manner of ascendancy. It means that this leaves all these venues
available to the aggrieved party to seek justice. However, permanent
constitutional powers given to the President and the interim powers
given to Chief Ministers and Governors as the case may be at any given
time simply means that after spending years of time, energy and money
the accused can be pardoned by any of these high officials which
negates the very sense of justice for the aggrieved. To fulfil the
demands of justice these discriminatory powers to the federal and
provincial governments should be altogether abolished or else what's
good is the whole process.
PAGE: Why it takes years to decide a case in
Pakistan? Isn't it amount to 'justice delayed is justice denied?'
Badar: Like all other departments judicial
process has also not remained immune to procrastination which has
become our national psyche. Furthermore delaying tactics by both the
defense and prosecution has become a routine practice. However,
delaying the case only benefits the accused and this should not
happen. In addition, judges in Pakistan take regular summer vacations
and the fact that their cases are being heard by their replacements
also negates the sense of justice as replacement judges do not
understand the ins and outs of a particular case to help them make
PAGE: As a lawyer you have to interact
closely with police. How professional is our police force?
Badar: Effective police investigation forms
the very base of judicial process in any society. Unfortunately the
majority of the ranks and files of our police force lacks educated and
training rendering them incapable of conducting proper investigation.
It primarily depends on self-confessions, and we all know how
confessions are extracted by police here, which are hard to prove in
the court of law. Backing out of self-confessions have become an all
too routine here. This denies justice not only for an innocently
accused person but also for those who really deserved to be punished.
PAGE: What do you suggest?
Badar: I suggest establishing an
accountability cell to deal with police excesses in particular, I also
suggest recruiting the police officials from the Civil Services to
ensure the flow of educated and civilized persons to help develop a
truly professional force. The SHO of a police station should be a CSP
officer instead of the rankers at present most of whom are uneducated,
untrained and uncouth. Some of them could hardly speak without being
drunk and I personally know many such SHOs who are extremely abusive
and sadistic. The least the government can do is to order the medical
check of the police force, particularly SHOs, to detect that huge
liquor content in their body and to award them the deserving
PAGE: You have said that police is still
using such primitive techniques as self-confession taken under threat
of, or real torture. Is there a remedy?
Badar: Yes. Perjury is treated as a heinous
crime all over the world. Even in Islam given false evidence under
oath is punishable by 80 lashes and the ignominy of a life-time
disqualified witness. Perjury should be made a punishable offence as
police can make false cases without worrying about the consequences.
This will help cut police excesses considerably.