An honorary chairman of a Japanese automobile company, who can literally change the fortunes of a country through his business and was named ‘Asia Businessman of the Year 2005’ by Fortune, once got nominated in a first information report (FIR) in Pakistan and narrowly escaped arrest by the capital’s police.
The bizarre development took place when renowned politician Dr Sher Afgan Niazi’s son Behram Khan died in a road accident on Nov 22, 2002, within the jurisdiction of Margalla police station.
Niazi, who belonged to Mianwali and served as minister for parliamentary affairs, had nominated Fujio Cho along with others for allegedly installing a defective supplemental restraint airbag system in his son’s car and the Islamabad police had included the names.
Esteemed lawyer Raja Rizwan Abbasi recalls that an investigating officer in Pakistan also once fell short of arresting the head of the Japanese automobile giant in the car accident case. However, the capital’s police officer later stated in his report that he was tipped off about Cho’s hiding in an under-construction building.
Eventually, Cho ran away when he saw the police coming his way and was later declared an absconder in the case.
“Anyone can be booked in an FIR,” Abbasi said, adding “Imran Khan can even nominate President Joe Biden, President Putin, President Xi Jinping, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman or any other person he wants; it’s his right and FIR should be registered the way he wants.”
According to Express Tribune, ever since a gun attack took place at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) long march at Wazirabad, Imran Khan has been demanding that a case be registered against incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a military officer for plotting against him.
The PTI chief, along with his party leaders, is adamant that any FIR lacking these three names would simply be a piece of paper and nothing else. In a recent interview with CNN, former premier Imran reiterated “how come I cannot name those people of whom I’m suspicious of my assassination attempt”.
To a question if the PTI chief can nominate anyone and if there would be any consequences if the information he provides turns out to be false and not proven during the investigation or before the court, Abbasi said that the police or court can discharge the accused for lack of evidence after investigation.
Islamabad High Court Bar Association President Shoaib Shaheen seconded Abbasi and said that legally there was no bar on the police to not register the first information report as requested because the persons nominated can later be discharged by the police or the magistrate.
To the question about when is Section 182 (false information with the intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person) of the Pakistan Penal Code is attracted in a case, Abbasi said that charges of false FIR are attracted when the incident has not taken place altogether, saying, in this case, no one can deny the rally and the firing at PTI leadership.
Both the legal experts agreed that filing of false FIR was wrong but not registering the FIR as per the complainant’s wishes also raised questions about the justice system. They also agreed that the accused can only claim damages for malicious prosecution once they are discharged from the case, saying there is no other remedy for them before they face insult.
“One purpose of nominating people in the FIR is to stigmatise them and it gives the other side a chance to keep on pointing fingers at others that they were once nominated in such and such case to make people’s mind that they must have done something wrong,” Abbasi pointed out.
“Reputation of people is damaged through such cases every day but there is no repair for such damages except seeking pecuniary damages for malicious prosecution,” Abbasi regretted, saying the practice was more common in the past when people would nominate the opponent groups or a whole village in a case just to settle a score.
“Wrongly implicating someone in a case is wrong but circumstances in Imran Khan’s cases are different,” Shaheen said, adding first the case was given a religious angle and then it was said that the attack was a result of growing political polarisation. “No one kills in love; circumstances show enmity,” he said, saying the release of video statements and delay in the FIR, in this case, show that some powerful people were behind it.
“A popular leader escaped an assassination attempt and some people are making fun of it,” Shaheen regretted, “did they want another incident like Benazir Bhutto whose real killers have never been brought before the nation.”
“In a country where Cho can be booked and declared absconder,” Abbasi concluded, “anyone could be nominated in an FIR. This is what the system is and this is how it works.”