The Supreme Court on Monday ordered an inquiry into the mistreatment allegedly meted out to the daughter of Khawar Fareed Maneka by Punjab police personnel and interference in the matter of transfer of Pakpattan District Police Officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal by political personalities.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had last week taken suo motu notice of the transfer of DPO Gondal, allegedly over an altercation with Maneka, the ex-husband of First Lady Bushra Imran.
A three-member bench headed by the CJP today directed the Punjab inspector general to submit the inquiry report after independently investigating the matter from all aspects within a week.
In the first incident involving the Maneka family and police, some policemen had misbehaved with a female member of the family on August 5. She has now been identified as the daughter.
The CJP today remarked that the court is sorry over the mistreatment suffered by Maneka's daughter at the hands of police.
"The court apologises on behalf of the nation," Justice Nisar said, adding officials involved in the episode would be strictly punished.
The CJP also cautioned that disciplinary proceedings will be initiated against DPO Gondal, in addition to a possible suspension, if it is proven that he failed to act in a timely manner after the mistreatment incident.
The controversy had arisen when, according to Pakpattan police, DPO Gondal’s men tried to stop Maneka’s car as he was travelling towards Pir Ghani on the night of August 23. Maneka allegedly refused to stop on the policemen’s request and misbehaved with them. Subsequently, Maneka demanded that the DPO visit his dera to personally apologise to him.
But Gondal refused and was subsequently transferred. The Punjab police later clarified that the DPO was transferred for displaying conduct unbecoming of a police officer and misreporting facts.
At the outset of the hearing today, Punjab Inspector General Kaleem Imam informed the court that the orders to transfer DPO Gondal were issued verbally and one of the reasons behind the transfer was that the DPO had not taken a notice of the incident in which the female from the Maneka family was mistreated. He also claimed that he had not directed Gondal to visit the Chief Minister's Office.
Suspected political interference
The court also ordered the Punjab IG to investigate whether DPO Gondal had been summoned to the Chief Minister's House by Ahsan Jamil Gujjar (a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader from Gujranwala) and the CM's Chief Security Officer, Umar, following the altercation with Maneka.
Gujjar, said to be an influential person who is close to the Maneka family, and Punjab CM Usman Buzdar had allegedly summoned Gondal to the CM's office for an 'explanation' of the events in Pakpattan shortly before the officer was transferred from his posting.
The CJP remarked during the hearing that it was beyond his understanding why the chief minister would interfere in the matter. He also wanted to know the link between Gujjar and the CM.
But Haider, the personal staff officer (PSO) to the CM claimed that Buzdar had asked him to invite DPO Pakpattan and Regional Police Officer Sahiwal "for tea". He said he had found out about Gondal's transfer in the morning, implying that he had no knowledge of the transfer happening the previous night.
When questioned about his role, Gujjar claimed to be the "guardian" of Maneka's children. This took the CJP by surprise and he asked which court had granted the custody of Maneka's children to Gujjar when their father himself is alive.
DPO Gondal claimed before the bench that Gujjar had asked him at the CM House to visit Maneka's dera in order to apologise.
The court also questioned the role of Col Tariq Faisal of the Inter-Services Intelligence, who had apparently phoned the DPO.
When asked why he had interfered in the matter, Faisal said he had asked Gondal not to visit anyone's dera as both of them had trained together in the past.
"Everyone is lying," a vexed Justice Nisar said, adding that he will have a departmental inquiry done regarding Faisal.
'Cannot rule out conspiracy'
A teary-eyed Maneka narrated to the court the "inappropriate behaviour" of police that his daughter had to endure on August 5. He quoted her as saying that the police official who misbehaved with her while on duty was drunk.
IG Imam had revealed at the last hearing that the woman had not just been stopped by some policemen but that someone had grabbed her by the arm.
Speaking at the rostrum, Maneka said a "conspiracy" against his family could not be ruled out as the reason behind the chain of events.
He claimed that the police check-post at which he was stopped in the second incident had not been seen there before then. He also claimed that the first sentenced policemen uttered after stopping him was "'Maneka sahib, step out of the car.'"
"How did the police know that I was travelling in the car?" he questioned.
The CJP assured him in response that the incident would be investigated from all angles.