ISLAMABAD: Sindh police officer Rao Anwar Ahmed Khan, the main suspect in the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud, 27, in a fake police encounter, showed mistrust over the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) constituted to probe the matter, and through a petition filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday, sought inclusion of intelligence agencies’ personnel in the investigation team.
When Rao Anwar surrendered himself before the Supreme Court on March 21, the apex court had ordered the formation of a five-member JIT, headed by Additional Inspector General of Sindh Police Aftab Pathan and including AIG Waliullah Dal, DIG of Karachi South Azad Ahmed Khan, DIG of Karachi East Zulfikar Larik, and SSP Dr Rizwan.
In a review petition, moved through Advocate Shamim-ur-Rehman Malik, the police officer highlighted that the court had failed to appreciate in its March 21 order Section 19 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, which provided composition of the JIT consisting of officers from police, intelligence agencies, armed forces and civil armed forces, but the JIT constituted by the court under its March 21 order, was composed of police officers only from the Sindh police department.
Such a team, by virtue of its composition, could be termed an investigation team rather than the JIT as provided under the law, the petitioner said.
He contended that the investigating team had deprived him of his right of defence and thus he had lost his confidence in the impartiality of the team. Hence, the petition said, reconstitution of the JIT team in accordance with the spirit of Section 19 of the ATA, 1997, was the only remedy.
Needless to say, the petition argued, the JIT never comprised officers from one agency as the same would militate against the very concept and purpose of the JIT.
The petition further said it was beyond comprehension that AIG Aftab Pathan, who had earlier conducted a probe and accused the police officer of killing Naqeebullah Mehsud in the alleged police encounter, would deviate from his earlier position.
“The fair and impartial investigation into allegations levelled by him in a criminal case is the fundamental constitutional right of the petitioner especially in the current case,” the petition argued.
“When the investigating team is not willing to investigate the version of the petitioner about his non-involvement in the alleged offence and where the documentary evidence produced by the petitioner is not being verified and the documents so produced are not being made part of the record of the case, the possibility of a fair investigation is next to impossible,” the petition said.
It said that the entire concept of investigation was actually the process of collection of evidence produced by either party including the stance/defence taken by the accused.
Keeping in view the previous conduct of the Sindh police in conducting investigation into FIRs filed about the incident of death of four people in a police encounter, extracting statements from different people and twisting facts to implicate the petitioner, entrusting investigation solely to officers from the Sindh police under the supervision of the same officers who had earlier supervised the investigation, would not be in consonance with the constitutional principles of free, fair and impartial investigation into a criminal charge levelled against him, the petitioner said.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2018