The Inspector General (IG) of Punjab Police has instructed regional police officers (RPOs) in the province to nominate Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan in all cases related to the May 9 attacks on military installations. The instruction calls for the addition of Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to the First Information Reports (FIRs) filed against PTI leaders, workers, and supporters. While the move has stirred controversy, with some questioning its timing, the IG has defended the decision, stating that it is within the police’s domain to add or delete sections during the investigation.
A total of 14 FIRs were registered in Lahore, 13 in the Rawalpindi region, five in the Faisalabad region, and four each in the Multan, Sargodha, and Mianwali districts under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and other charges. The cases were filed against PTI leaders, workers, and supporters, alleging their involvement in attacks on military installations. Initially, the FIRs contained sections 148 and 149 of the PPC, which carry similar charges.
The decision to include Section 34 of the PPC, related to “common intention,” in the FIRs was prompted by a proposal from the prosecution secretary. The IG held a meeting with the Punjab prosecution secretary, and subsequently, joint investigation teams (JITs) were instructed to coordinate with district prosecutors to ensure compliance. However, some senior police officers view the addition of Section 34 as a futile exercise, considering that the FIRs already contain Sections 148 and 149 of the PPC. They argue that establishing “common intention” would be challenging in court, as Imran Khan was not physically present during the attacks on May 9.
Legal experts have highlighted the requirement of a pre-arranged plan and a prior meeting of minds for a “common intention” to be established. Mere allegations would not be sufficient to proceed with the application of Section 34 of the PPC. The police will need to demonstrate that the suspect had a common intention before committing the crime. The debate surrounding the interpretation of “common intention” underscores the complexities of applying this legal provision in the ongoing cases against Imran Khan.
While the Rawalpindi region has reportedly nominated Imran Khan by adding Section 34 of the PPC in all relevant FIRs, police in Lahore, Gujranwala, and Multan regions have shown reluctance in following the order. These regions are consulting prosecution experts to ensure they navigate any potential legal challenges arising from the addition of Section 34. The IG has appointed a senior police officer at the Central Police Office (CPO) to coordinate with the RPOs and ensure the implementation of the order.
The directive to nominate Imran Khan in the May 9 cases by adding Section 34 of the PPC has sparked controversy within Punjab’s police force. While some officers question the necessity and feasibility of establishing “common intention” without the physical presence of the PTI chairman, others support the initiative. As the legal implications of this decision unfold, it remains to be seen how the courts will interpret and evaluate the evidence presented by the police. The outcome of these cases will significantly impact the ongoing political landscape and the perception of justice in the country.