The action against Cafe Aylanto was illegal as the police cannot raid a private property according to law, a senior lawyer has said.
Commenting on the legal implications of the raid on the popular Lahore restaurant, Advocate Nafeer Malik told a local web channel that the action on Cafe Aylanto was against the protocol that is normally followed in raids of such nature.
“The restaurant can sue the officials involved in court,” said Adv Malik.
The lawyer said that “even the inspector general of police cannot seize private property if alcohol is found in a car or a house”, adding that he would stop practicing law if the Excise Department could prove that it had the authority to seal the premises on seizure of alcohol.
He questioned why the police and Excise Department had never conducted a raid on Lahore Gymkhana where many famous bureaucrats can be seen enjoying alcoholic drinks. “I would like to ask the officer who conducted the raid on Cafe Aylanto to go and confiscate liquor bottles from Gymkhana and make a video of the bottles along with the staff,” he further said.
He said that the police’s refusal to get involved in the Aylanto raid showed that they have no legal power to conduct such an action on private property.
“Sharing videos before initiation of a court trial is unlawful and merits an inquiry into this matter,” he said, adding that the team which conducted the Aylanto raid had broken the law and must be held accountable.
He alleged that the Excise Department regularly receives money as commission from different hotels of Lahore by allowing them to sell alcohol illegally.
The Punjab government on Wednesday made a controversial Excise & Taxation Officer (ETO), Masood Bashir Warraich, an Officer on Special Duty (OSD), days after he conducted the raid on Cafe Aylanto.
The restaurant was raided for allegedly allowing its patrons to consume alcohol on the premises.
The raiding party, led by Warraich and the Model Town assistant commissioner, claimed that they had recovered imported liquor from the premises. Interestingly, while the restaurant’s owners were not nominated in the FIR [First Information Report], the raiding team arrested 13 employees – most of them, waiters.