Playing the wrong hand: Retired super-cop Kiran Bedi said at an Anna Hazare protest against corruption in Delhi that through the Lokpal they wanted to evoke the same “dread” as the UAE law, mandating that the hand of a thief be chopped off as punishment Image Credit: Gulf news archives

DUBAI Lawyers here have trashed statements by a prominent Indian anti-corruption campaigner who claimed that convicted thieves in the UAE have their hands cut off.

Kiran Bedi, a retired super-cop in India, has joined the lobby of anti-corruption icon Anna Hazare who is pushing for the passage of “Lokpal”, an anti-corruption bill being debated by members of the Indian Parliament.

Speaking at a joint Team Anna-Ramdev protest on Monday in New Delhi, she said the Lokpal they wanted would evoke the same “dread” as the UAE law, mandating that the hand of a thief be chopped off as punishment.

“The hands of thieves are chopped off there [UAE]. There is a fear of law. If the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) is under the control of Lokpal, wrongdoers will have the same fear,” she said.

Bedi was in Dubai just last week.

Amer Sayyed Marzouqi, a former Dubai prosecutor now practising as a criminal lawyer, said: “What Ms Bedi said is an absolute lie and it is unfair to portray the UAE that way. The UAE’s Penal Code actually follows the French Penal Code. All the penalties are mentioned in this code and there’s no mention of hands being cut off. The penalty for convicted thieves is jail, fine or both — and deportation [for expatriates].

“Which planet is she from?”

Badr Abdullah Khamis, a criminal lawyer, said the parallel drawn by Bedi between the existing UAE Penal Code and Team Anna’s legal advocacy in India is way off the mark.

He added that chastisement punishments provided in Article 1 of the UAE Penal Code are handed down only under overwhelming circumstances. “Bedi’s comments were inappropriate and misinformed.”

Bedi’s comments followed Hazare’s reported advocacy of flogging for alcoholics. Team Hazare, which has joined forces with another anti-corruption group led by Ramdev, has been seen as advocating violence to tackle the ills of society.

“In context to the statement she [Bedi] made in a public address, in my opinion there is no such law in the UAE where the hands of a thief are chopped off. There is no merit nor any substance in the statement made by Ms Bedi. Maybe she just got a bit carried away during her public address,” said Ashish Mehta, a Dubai based lawyer licensed to practise in India, UAE, Singapore and the UK.

Sharia Law does allow for chopping of hands of thieves, but under very extreme conditions.

UAE lawyer Mohammad Al Suwaidi, board member of the Organisation of International Muslim Lawyers, said Criminal Law is applied in the UAE in all theft cases. “These comments [by Bedi] are a product of one’s wishful thinking.”

Emirati lawyer Hamdan Al Shamsi said that while Sharia law is applied in the UAE, the Civil Law and the Penal Code take precedence.

Even under Sharia Law, very strict conditions have to be met before this severe punishment [chopping off a thief’s hand] is applied. Since the Penal Code deals with theft — for which the penalty is a fine and/or jail — this means a person found guilty of theft will not necessarily have their hands chopped off,” said Al Shamsi.