Bahria Town Islamabad Car race tragedy: Supreme Court (SC) Orders Arrest of Realtor’s Son, Others:
Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded the police for allowing the car race in Bahria Town, Rawalpindi, that claimed five lives on December 5.
The court observed that the event had been held in violation of the Motor Vehicles Ordinance 1965.
The apex court directed the Inspector-General of Police, Punjab, Tariq Saleem Dogar to arrest the persons booked in the FIR, including the son of a real estate tycoon. The court also directed that the inquiry of the case be referred to an experienced and high-ranked police officer rather than a sub-inspector.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday while hearing a suo motu case asked the Punjab police chief whether Rawalpindi city police was reluctant to arrest the culprits because they were “influential.”
In its two reports, police declared that the tragedy was an accident.
“The police were considering closing the case after declaring it an accident,” the chief justice remarked.
“Prima facie Rawalpindi city police and Bahria Town administration were responsible for this tragic incident,” the chief justice said.
In its written order, the court observed that without the blessing of police officials, it was impossible for the organisers to hold the event. The order further stated that no progress had been made in the case so far as a junior official was investigating such a significant case.
During the course of the hearing, Supreme Court lawyers Khalid Anwar and Naeem Bukhari assisted the court.
The court also observed that wheelies were allowed on different roads causing fatal accidents; unfortunately, the concerned authorities were not implementing the 1965 law in this regard.
During the proceeding, it was informed that Rawalpindi District Coordination Officer (DCO) Imdadullah Bosal and DIG Special Branch had not allowed the car race, but Rawalpindi City Police Officer (CPO) Wisal Fakhar Sultan Raja permitted the organisers to hold the event. Later, he also devised a security plan for the event.
Rawalpindi CPO could not convince the court and tendered his apology for the act of negligence. But the chief justice asked the CPO, “How can we forgive you if the grieved families are not willing to do so?”
Umar Ali, the younger brother of Babar Ali, who died along with his son Asfandyar in the incident, told the court that police visited his residence after finding out that the Supreme Court had taken notice of the case.
“Police also got a statement from us in an ambiguous manner,” Ali said. “We want a solution of this case so that such incidents do not take place in the future.”
Justice Ramday remarked that the CPO abetted the “death game.” At one point, Justice Ramday asked the RPO Hamid Mukhtar Gondal to handcuff the CPO, saying that the city police officer was equally responsible for the tragic incident.
Rawalpindi DCO earlier informed the court that he declined permission to Sheikh Atif, the organiser of the event.
The organiser termed it a ‘peaceful’ and ‘energetic social event’ that was arranged with the collaboration of a telecom company and an oil company.
The DCO further contended that when he declined Safdar Saleemullah, the consultant and employee of Bahria Town Chief Executive, he was informed on telephone that the event was being shifted to Islamabad Bahria Town under CDA jurisdiction.
The CPO submitted before the court that he gave permission for the event with certain conditions, but the court replied that he was not the competent authority on the matter. “Once the DCO declined permission, it was obligatory for the police to stop the event or take stern action against the violators,” Justice Ghulam Rabbani said.
Justice Ramday asked the CPO why he did not take action before issuing the security plan for the event. He further remarked that the official could be booked under Article 302 for abetting five deaths.
The court adjourned the hearing of the case till December 15.
(Published in The Express Tribune on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010)