Is The Government’s Story On Rana Sanaullah Believable?
Awais Babar writes that the prosecution in Rana Sanaullah case did not show any interest in taking this case to a logical end. It had rather been busy on the media trying to convince people that the accused is guilty as charged. This is not how the justice system works.
Rana Sanaullah’s case is unique in the sense that even people, analysts and many others supportive of the government do not believe the government when it tells them that Rana Sanaullah is a drug lord of a huge cartel. Not only does this case have legal lacunae, but is also devoid of plausibility from every angle. Disinformation is a vital inequity this government has held itself onto since its outset.
The government has been trying endlessly to somehow make people believe this unbelievable story. In order to give the story some moral footing a press conference was arranged in which the DG ANF sat together with the Minister for Narcotics Shehryar Afridi on the 4th of July this year in the hope to fill in the blanks and cap this issue. Regrettably, the said press conference spiced up the issue even further as all they had in their sack were some swears and exhortations.
In order to cover up its gaffes, the government is relying on the uniform again – ANF. In this a chicken and an egg situation, in order to save its own skin, the government is magnifying various defences though in an obstinate manner. Firstly, it is complaining that ANF is being targeted by the media and is being an accomplice of conspiring to bring disrepute to the anti-narcotics force, most of the staff of which comprises of the army personnel.
So again the moral argument, if the army is involved or is a part of some project it has to be right. This is not the determining factor at all when it comes to court proceedings. Before the court, ANF the prosecution and Rana SanaUllah the defendant, both have rights. The court has to strike a balance between the rights of both. While it may be wrong to hold a media trial of a prosecutorial authority, it is also wrong to hold press conferences against an accused to make him ‘look guilty’ and somehow steal a march on the defendant’s rights by swearing on God’s name.
The second cover-up is with regard to the claim made by the minister that there exists a video clearly implicating Rana SanaUllah in the drug charge. Shehryar Afridi, in an attempt to make good on his previous Freudian slip ended up embarrassing himself by another tongue-twister, “I never said I had video of Sanaullah, but only spoke about ‘footage”. It would be needless to reproduce the dictionary meanings between the two as a lot have already circulated on different mediums.
The third cover-up is the government’s now renewed stance that although it has the evidence but it shall produce it before the Trial Court once the trial starts. Government is right when it says that it has all the evidence but they cannot present it before the media as the due process of law requires it to be produced before the court. However, it is saying that after six months since Rana SanaUllah’s arrest now that he is on bail. Besides, Barrister Shehzad Akbar the man wearing three hats, government’s Special Assistant on Accountability and Interior Ministry as well as the Chief of the Assets Recovery Unit has been holding press conferences and media trial of various opposition politicians. Therefore, the newly enlightened stance that the evidence shall be presented before the court loses its ground by the government’s own conflicting conduct in this matter.
Government’s claim that the delay in the initiation of trial is due to the delay caused by the defence lawyers of Rana SanaUllah is unfounded. This is the most absurd allegation and totally false as the accused was already in custody and as per the court process the defence lawyers have no way of delaying the process until the accused is charged. On the contrary, it is the government itself whose conduct is testifying that their intention was to malign Rana Sanaullah in every way possible, not prosecute him.
While Rana Sanaullah’s bail application was being heard before the former ANF Judge, the latter was transferred just before he was about to announce the verdict.
The day after Rana Sanaullah’s bail from the High Court, Minister for Narcotics Control Shehryar Afridi confessed to Nadim Malik that he and others had reservations about the Trial Judge as he was known to have granted bail to various accused. The minister further exclaimed that therefore ANF approached the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court in April 2019 to express their reservations.
This act by the ANF is a sheer obstruction of justice as wanting to change a judge due to the apprehension that he might not decide in the prosecution’s favour and then attempting to change a judge by directly approaching the Chief justice of LHC warrants a legal proceeding against all those involved.
Furthermore, this alone is sufficient to get Rana Sanaullah’s case quashed on the grounds of malicious prosecution and shows mala fide intentions at the very outset. In the strict legal sense, the prosecution via its officials and its minister have committed contempt of court. Contempt of court as the general public perceives it does not come into play only when abusive language is used against court or a judge, it has a lot wider implications. Influencing the court proceedings in any manner whatsoever amounts to contempt of court.
The mysterious transfer of the judge shows that the government through different officials has also endeavoured to scandalise the court by tending to predict the outcome of the bail application and getting the judge transferred through its influence right before the announcement of verdict-the WhatsApp transfer. Broadly speaking, in effect, by committing the above acts the government has come under the purview of contempt of court under different statutes and ordinances.
It would not be wrong to conjecture that Rana Sanaullah’s bail by Lahore High Court is a right decision. A special court for Control of Narcotics Substance (CNS) had on September 20 dismissed a bail petition by Sanaullah yet at the same time had released five co-suspects. Since the arrest, the prosecution has not shown any interest in taking this case to a logical end; it has rather been busy on the media trying to convince people that the accused is guilty as charged. The justice system does not work like that. If anything, government has played in its own hands. Every prosecutorial error is a penny from heaven for Rana SanaUllah.