Wednesday, May 04, 2005

An encounter with Dubai Police and Judicial System

Generally, we prefer to stay away from both police and judicial system. We become even more cautious outside country as expatriate residents. Living in Dubai, my interaction with police was only limited to traffic and immigration procedures that never evoked any tangible reaction except observing them being people friendly. I never thought Tuesday, May 3rd would give an opportunity to have a closer look at these two establishments.

It all started with a telephone call from my friend who said he had been arrested by police under charges of alcohol consumption. Despite knowing my friend’s penchant for intoxicating beverages, the news was a big surprise considering the liberal lifestyle of pubs and discotheque but more turmoil was to learn about his being in police lock up. I was told by my friend that next day I should go to Dubai Court to follow up on his early release.

Dubai court is nestled along the Dubai Creek just under the Maktoom Bridge that joins two parts of Dubai – Bar Dubai and Deira. White building with wide staircases leading to main foyer – much the same way as public library or state govt. buildings – with red insignia and three flags on top makes this an imposing structure. Parking area is spacious and greenery all around is soothing. Receptionist at the entrance greeted me politely and directed me to the appropriate place. Numbered rooms and designated places was pleasant surprise from my India experience. It seems most of the people in the premises have a sleek flat-screen PC and people do try their best to support in English. Gentleman after hearing my plea asked me to go to the adjacent building. I was walking through corridors that were flanked by Judges Chambers. Polished doors, carpeted rooms with prominent nameplate and stand to hang their robe added dignified aura to the sanctity of this place. Various contrasting images of US judicial scenes enacted in English movies and crowded show cause /domicile court in India flashed my mind. Going downstairs to see detention cell- gave me an insight of police approach dealing with offenders and his family. Most offenders were dressed in clean white trousers with hands cuffed. However the lock that cuffed both the hands look very sleek with molded plastic than a chain that we often see in India. Police personnel at detention center guided me to go Public Prosecution Building –another next-door imposing building. Receptionists were as usual courteous and modest. The person at the reception after searching his database explained me that he needs complaint number to do anything further and detailed me to go about securing the same from police station.

Police station at Bur Dubai is another multi storied centrally air-conditioned building with friendly and computer savvy people. Necessary information was quickly handed over with all details noted down on scotch pad. When asked, he even briefed me about the charges framed and penalty that will be levied to my friend. Returning to Public prosecution building and only to be told that matter is yet to come for hearing was a huge disappointment. Hopefully, by tomorrow ordeal be over so that my friend at least his weekend in his home.

I am not sure what is in store for tomrrow but it was great opportunity to see the functioning of these two establishments at close quarter. It was a pleasant surprise to see the cooperative approach of the staff, serenity of the ambience and above all the concern of staff to provide the necessary service. Interacting with people at Dubai Court and Police station reflected human face of governance that often have to tread a delicate balance between law enforcement and just treatment.

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