- No judge yet
PML-N Punjab General Secretary and former provincial Law Minister Rana Sanaullah spent a useless day in court on Saturday. He went there as directed, in the custody of the Anti-Narcotics Force, but nothing happened; no proceedings of any kind, because there was no judge. The last hearing, August 28, also saw no proceeding, after the judge announced that he had just received a WhatsApp message containing his repatriation order. The urgency of this removal, which required a WhatsApp message and could not brook the delay implicit in an ordinary service of the order, has not been met by any corresponding urgency in appointing a substitute.
Clearly, the previous judge was removed because it was not wanted that he even have one hearing of the case. There is now the possibility that the government is unable to find a judge who is willing to give it what it apparently wants in this case, the conviction of Rana Sanaullah. It now has until September 14, or a week from the last, abortive, hearing, to find a judge for the court. It needs to do so.
The government might have realised by now that if Rana Sanaullah was to break, he would have broken by now. As it is, he is being kept in a death cell, and receiving treatment which barely keeps within the Jail Manual. Now it behoves the government to appoint a judge to try him, and if the case against him is so weak that it is insufficient to convict, that is not the judge’s fault. Rana Sanaullah, or anyone for that matter, must not suffer for the sins of omission of others. This also does not mean that any department should be blithe about helping the government against any political opponents. At least that much of an advance has been made that now the government has to prepare a case for trial; it used to just lock opponents up and throw away the key.