ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) is expected to take up the bail plea of a poverty-stricken father languishing in Adiala jail for a year, after he was accused of stealing hens.
The case of Mohammad Zahid has reinforced doubts about Pakistan’s flawed criminal justice system after the accused knocked the door of country’s top court as a last resort to get justice.
The poor man from Gilgit-Baltistan was accused of stealing 15 hens by his ex-employer exactly a year ago in Islamabad. After two months and ten days of an apparently “fabricated” theft incident, the complainant, Raja Sajjad, lodged a complaint with Koral police in Islamabad on April 17, 2018.
Sajjad, who owned a real estate business in Arsalan Town Islamabad, told police that an unknown person had stolen his 15 hens, one water dispenser and badminton set from office on the night of February 6, 2018.
“I searched for the thief at my own but could not find any clue. Now I came to know that Mohammad Zahid had stolen my hens, accused should be arrested and justice be served,” read the complaint lodged with police. On the same day, police registered an FIR (Police Form No (1) 5-24) under 380/457 (PPC, 1860) which is a bailable offence.
Neither police recovered hens nor the complainant produced any witness in this case. But police arrested Zahid on the same day and later shifted him to Adiala Jail, his father, 79-year-old Bradar Khan, revealed.
“My son was the sole breadwinner for his five children as the whole family moved to Islamabad from Konodas, a small town near Gilgit city across Ghizer river, 10 years ago,” Khan told this correspondent. “We have no money to pursue my son’a case. We have nothing to eat even my son worked at Sajjad’s shop and he was asking for salary Rs8,000, which Sajjad had not paid and rather beaten my son and expelled from him the shop months before accusing him.”
Khan is now hospitalised for the treatment.
But Sajjad insisted that he had paid dues to his employee. “Accused [Zahid] stole my 15 hens, computer, water cooler,” he said.
The complainant, however, did not explain as to why he waited for nine long weeks before reporting the matter to the police. Father of the accused filed post-arrest bail which was dismissed by Judicial Magistrate Islamabad (East) on September 12, 2018. Bradar Khan approached Additional Sessions Judge (East) Islamabad for his son’s bail, but his plea was dismissed by the judge on November 29, 2018.
Then the accused through his counsel filed bail plea before Islamabad High Court (IHC) on December 24, 2018. Malik Iqbal, counsel for the petitioner, filed bail plea in IHC informing the court that the petitioner was remanded in police custody for some eight months, but not a single recovery was made from him.
His client has falsely been implicated in this case, petitioner’s counsel said, arguing that the story mentioned in the FIR was “fabricated”. But the complainant’s lawyer opposed the bail saying accused was habitual offender and he should not be granted bail.
After hearing both parties, the IHC in its order on January 12, 2019 stated that the petitioner was alleged to have committed theft of valuable articles belonging to the complainant.
Record shows the petitioner was found to be habitual offender and concession of bail could not be frequently extended, observed Justice Miangul Hassan, directing the trial court to conclude the case within a period of two months.
The accused, through his counsel Shahid Kamal, filed a bail plea before the Supreme Court on the grounds that the IHC erred by ignoring the factum. All eyes are now set on the apex court which may take up this unique case (Crl.P.71/2019) next week.