Karachi: 6 ex-jail officials acquitted in bribery case
KARACHI: Six former officials of the central prison were acquitted of graft charges by an anti–corruption court for want of evidence. The judge of the special provincial anti–corruption court, Karachi, Rashida Asad, who conducted the trial, pronounced the verdict after hearing both sides. The then jail superintendent Pir Shahbbir Jan Sirhandi and assistant jail superintendents Nazeer Hussain Shah and Shakeel Arbab, constables Maqam, Mohammad Sharif and Akram had been charged with allegedly collecting bribes from an under-trial prisoner in the central prison in July and August 2008.
The court said that the prosecution could not place solid evidence before it in order to prove its case against the accused persons beyond a shadow of a doubt. Defence counsel Waqar Shah, in the final arguments, contended that the case complainant did not turn up to testify. Instead he sent an application that he was abroad and no more interested to pursue the case, the counsel added.
The evidences of remaining prosecution witnesses was not convincing as they did not corroborate with each other, he argued. The counsel said the case of prosecution had been badly dented on the point of recovery as the alleged bribe was not recovered from the possession of the accused.
He further contended that the names of Asif Ali Zardari and Zulfikar Mirza were also cited in the charge-sheet but they were not up for trial. Their absence broke the chain of facts, he added.
However, public prosecutor Rashid Khan insisted that the prosecution had placed enough evidence before the court to prove its case. He argued that the complainant’s manager, who handed over the money to the accused, had supported the case of prosecution and deposed against the accused.
Pleading for conviction, the prosecutor stated that the incidents of taking bribe from inmates were common and such offences were of heinous in nature.
According to the prosecution, the then jail superintendent Shahbbir Sirhandi along his subordinates had allegedly tortured an under-trial prisoner in the central prison and collected a bribe of over Rs3 million. It added that Ijaz Memon was arrested on July 6, 2008 by the Jackson police station on the charges of drugs and weapons trafficking and he was remanded to jail whose superintendent was Mr Sirhandi at that time. The jailer allegedly demanded Rs1.3 million from Mr Memon assuring him of being provided all facilities in the jail, according to the prosecution.
It alleged that the then jail superintendent again on different occasions demanded a total of Rs3.5 million by using the name of two political leaders. The bribes were paid to the superintendent through the prisoner’s manager, it stated.
It further alleged that assistant jail superintendent Mr Shah was involved in the collection of weekly bribe of around Rs200,000 to Rs300,000 that he handed over to the jail superintendent by torturing prisoners with the help of constables Sharif and Akram, said the prosecution.
It added that Mr Arbab and constable Maqam were also involved in the collection of daily bribe of around Rs15,000 to Rs20,000 from prisoners and handed over it to Mr Sirhandi.
After conducting an enquiry, the Anti–corruption Establishment Karachi registered a case (FIR No 27/08) against the suspects on a compliant of Ijaz Memon on Aug 12, 2008 under Section 161 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 5(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947.