Najeeb Durrani

The process of seeking to settle civil disputes and claims, by applying pressure by way of a criminal prosecution has the potential of having a cataclysmic effect on the economic system adversely impacting the atmosphere of investment and development. Collusion with agents to dispossess agricultural landowners not only poses a threat to regional food security but coupled with the rising inflation and political instability, securing food commodities is of paramount importance, particularly in rural communities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where people are more vulnerable to food shortages.

It is a matter of great concern that agricultural landowners of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are unnecessarily being dragged in Criminal prosecution premised upon faulty opinions rendered by the Public Prosecutors. That too without taking into consideration the records available with the Police pertaining to the land and matters ancillary therewith; all aimed at facilitation of land grabbers. As such this is tantamount of allowing misuse of authority; by failing to exercise powers ordained upon, within the meaning of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) Act, 2005.

Perusal of the information conveyed by the Police often reveals that no offence is made out since the very inception; rather the efforts made on behalf of the office of District Public Prosecutors are purportedly done and to ensure the land grabbers take over; right to usage of property available of registered owners by engaging them in false and fallacious controversies. The law is brought into motion by the Prosecutor Office; aimed at benefiting land grabbers and that too without any hindsight; considering the dicta laid down in Sughran Bibi Case (PLD 2018 SC 595) by  the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The purpose revolving around bringing criminal law into motion, is to enable state functionary, to make sure prevention of crimes with peace offering; whereas in alike situation where Prosecutor Office instead of opting for supervisory role has made a preemptive strike for paving way to the land grabbers by prosecuting the owners instead of the persons providing false information.

In October 2021, the KP Establishment Department directed the Home and Tribal Affairs Department to provide within 15 day a report on allegations of corruption against the the Directorate of Prosecution. The allegations entailed litigant third parties influencing the police to open criminal cases against their legal opponents and sway the public prosecutor’s office to prosecute the opponents with the aim of imposing financial and legal hardships to obtain an illegal advantage in legal proceedings. Thus, critically damaging the legal process by prosecutors along with the aid of Police, allowing parties to illegally pressure each other in civil cases.

Despite seven months the report remains inconclusive and the Home department continues to trade blame with the investigator as three separates reports have contradictory and biased findings. Another revision has been sought which is being resisted by the in-charge of the Home Department which is acting irresponsibly and preventing action to be against on corruption within the Provincial departments.

In February 2022, the Peshawar High Court acknowledged the general perception of the Police (specifically Charsadda Police) for creating fake and frivolous criminal cases at the behest of influential people with the purpose of harassing their innocent opponents. Frivolous lawsuits are also being used by Police officers to provide proof of “efficiency” in fake cases against innocents.  These actions are undermining community trust in local law enforcement to protect their rights and squandering precious resources to harass citizens.

The inquiry conducted by the Regional Director of Prosecution found in a fact-finding inquiry report that the accused District Public Prosecutor had tampered with records and dates in cases he was in charge. The Prosecutor unjustly benefited himself in his cases at the cost of the defendants.

KP Chief Secretary must order the Establishment Department to independently investigate the mismanagement in the Home Department by the Anti-Corruption Establishment and (ACE) to conclude an impartial investigation into corruption allegations against Police and the Directorate of Prosecution of KP as it poses a material threat to justice in Civil and Criminal matters handled in KP Courts. Furthermore, land disputes – a prominent category of legal disputes in KP, and Pakistan more generally – are an example of legal disputes in which a litigant party often resorts to illegal measures to expedite the conclusion of legal proceedings.

Given the stated situation; the negligence of the concerned Public Officials may be treated with an exemplary punishment for the misuse and abuse of authority in order to set a new standard for securing the ends of justice.

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