Pakistan's Supreme Court took suo motu notice of reports that a woman was stoned to death on the orders of a panchayat in Punjab and summoned the provincial police chief to give an explanation on July 23.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry expressed "surprise and disbelief" at the reports that 25-year-old Maryam Bibi, a mother of five, was stoned to death on the orders of a panchayat (council of elders) for cutting grass at the farm of a landlord.
The bench summoned the Punjab Police chief to appear before it on July 23 to explain his "inaction" on the incident that occurred at Khanewal three days ago.
It noted that no action had been taken against police officials in the area and said the police chief should have "taken personal interest to bring the culprits to book".
The bench directed Punjab Advocate General Ashtar Ausaf to bring the incident to the notice of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
During the proceedings, Ausaf informed the bench that Muhammad Sarfraz, the husband of the woman, had been abducted.
The Chief Justice questioned the functioning of the police chief and said such incidents had brought a bad name to Pakistan.
He warned that the Punjab Police chief might be removed from his post.
"The woman was killed with brick batting. A medical report also validates the violence but a strange apathetic attitude is being adopted by police officials. If the chief secretary had taken notice, he would have removed the inspector general of police and district police officer by now," the chief justice said.
Haris Nadeem, a resident of Khanewal, appeared in court and said Sarfraz had killed his wife and blamed five other men for the crime.
However, the bench castigated him and observed that the incident showed close connivance between the police and the criminals.