LAHORE - During the first eight months of this year, the Punjab police registered at least 9,996 First Information Reports (FIRs) of abduction out of which 4,409 cases were quashed after the investigators found the allegations as unfounded.

The trend of implicating innocent persons in fake cases is gaining momentum in the largest province of the country, which many label as a police state. This trend indicates a growing trouble in the sprawling society, where the influential persons involve the powerful police to settle differences with their opponents by implicating them in false criminal cases.

Political pundits say the police are being used as a tool by the political elite to settle scores with their opponents and the registration of fake FIRs is a case in point. Most of the cops prefer to probe the cases related to public disputes rather than utilising their energies to unearth the criminals involved in heinous or organised crimes. Police sources say that the ‘registration of fake cases’ is the major source of police income as the cops collect money in such cases from both the parties – the complainant and the accused persons. Out of total 264,722 cases of crimes registered with the police in the Punjab province from January to August 2014, no less than 20,000 cases were cancelled after the allegations mentioned in the FIRs found untrue.

Police record reveals that out of total 1,900 cases of rape, more than 400 cases were quashed after the rape allegations could not be established against the accused persons. The police also cancelled 272 cases of attempted murder, 746 of hurt, seven of kidnapping of ransom, 42 of gang rape and 263 of other nature.  In the category of crimes of property, the police cancelled 425 cases of robbery, 108 of dacoity, 719 of burglary, 231 of theft, 393 of motor-vehicle theft, 128 of motor vehicle snatching, 555 of cattle theft and 3,000 of other nature.

Crimes experts say that the police register such cases even without checking the facts or the claims of the complainant and this malpractice is being carried out to help influential persons against their rivals. On the other hand, some police officers, interviewed for this study, say that the law enforcing agency is bound to implement the policy of “free and immediate registration of crimes cases” as designed by the provincial government. They also argued that most of the fake cases are registered with the police on the orders of the local courts. If the police refuse to register an FIR, the complainants approach the courts.  Interestingly, after completing investigations into the reported crimes of abduction, the investigators found that more than 4,400 cases of kidnapping, mostly involving women, were proved bogus in the end. In most of the kidnapping cases, it appeared that the women had eloped with their lovers happily to contract court-marriage with them but her family members got registered fake cases of kidnapping against her paramour by implicating even his other family members to pressurize her in-laws.

According to some complainants, the police investigators deliberately delay the arrests of the accused to leave the complainant with no other choice except to reconcile with them. Once the complainants expressed their willingness to withdraw the cases, the police quashed the FIRs.  More interestingly, the police never initiated legal action against the complainants for reporting false and bogus cases against the individuals.

Investigators say that the accused persons usually don’t approach the courts concerned to initiate legal action against the complainants, who had got registered fake cases against them. The law provides remedy in such cases under section 182 of the PPC to punish the complainant, who got registered the fake case against the accused.  Unfortunately, one police officer registers a fake case while the other cancels it. In the law, the SHOs are empowered to initiate legal action against the fake complainants but they never bother to apply such sections to discourage the trend. Legal experts suggested that it should be responsibility of the Superintendents of Police (SP), who in fact serves as the supervisor officer, to keep a strict check on the registered cases. There should be some check and balance at some level to stop the registration of fake cases.