To burnish the public image of our crime investigation agencies, whose inadequacy to bring culprits to the book is a given, we are about to add a new chapter to the universally recognised concept of jurisdiction. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali says the first information report (FIR) of Dr Imran Farooq’s murder, in 2010, in London will be registered in Pakistan in 2015; possibly with the Federal Investigation Agency.
According to him, it is a high-profile murder case having “international repercussions” and the revelations made during interrogation of three suspects by the Scotland Yard and local joint investigation team (JIT) are “serious in nature”. That may be the case; one would have no beef with the minister’s perspective on the case reports, including the one by the BBC, that Indian intelligence agency RAW was funding the party behind the plot to murder Dr Imran Farooq. But what looks so much out of the way is his decision that the first information report (FIR) of the case would be registered in Pakistan.
It is an accepted principle of jurisprudence that the first information report is registered with the police station where the crime is committed. And that is irrespective of the complainants’ choice and others’ preference. So the Dr Imran Farooq murder case was registered with the London Metropolitan Police because he was done to death in that city. As to who plotted this foul act and who were the hired assassins, it is for the British investigation agency Scotland Yard to find out, and if and when that is done the case would be filed with the court of appropriate jurisdiction. If five years on, the Scotland Yard has yet to conclude its investigation and seek indictment of the accused, it’s for the British government and public to think about.
We in Pakistan, where this high-profile murder does evoke a lot of interest and concern for its possible political fallout, may suffer anxiety over this ‘delay’ but have no legal position to push for an early conclusion of the case. Possibly, the government is now empowered to file an FIR of the case in Pakistan under the Protection of Pakistan Act. That may be over-stretching the said piece of legislation.
On the other hand, what such a move would promptly initiate would be the unmistakable impression that Pakistani authorities have lost faith in the competence, if not fairness, of the Scotland Yard. Given what this agency stands for in terms of investigation and independence of London Metropolitan Police, the interior minister may like to revisit his decision. And more so for the fly in the ointment: what to do now when the remand period of the three suspects in the case is about to expire. They were thoroughly quizzed by the British authorities, first in July when a Scotland Yard team interrogated Moazzam Ali and Khalid Shamim and then in September when it quizzed Mohsin Ali who was apprehended by the Frontier Constabulary (FC) as he allegedly crossed into the country from Afghanistan.
His disclosures are said to have prompted Chaudhry Nisar Ali to meet his British counterpart Theresa May and ‘discuss an option of handing over all three of the accused to the Scotland Yard’. Although handing over hasn’t come about, the remand period of all three suspects, in the meanwhile, is about to expire. The interior minister, in his own words, has only two options: to set them free or register an FIR against them.
Second FIRs are nothing new in Pakistan, these are routine to keep possession of the accused. But the second FIR in Pakistan of a case being investigated in Britain by the Scotland Yard would certainly raise many an eyebrow in the legal fraternity here and abroad.
Source: Business Recorder