Home Global Village Is a DNA test enough to convict the culprit in Zainab’s case?

Is a DNA test enough to convict the culprit in Zainab’s case?

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News Analysis |

A DNA test report is not enough to convict a suspect according to the rulings of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Qanoon-e-Shahadat, therefore the investigation team will have to provide more evidence to convict Imran, the main culprit behind the rape and murder of Zainab and seven other girls.

Seven-year-old Zainab was abducted near her house on 3rd January and on 9th January, her raped and murdered body was found in a trash heap in Kasur. The culprit, Imran, was found on 23rd January through extensive DNA testing by the police of 1,150 suspects. Imran has also confessed to the rape and murder of seven other girls in Kasur. He was presented to the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on 24th January. The next hearing of the case will commence again on 8th February.

The video confession of the culprit surfaced on the media but the police confession of a culprit has no weight in the court of law. Complementary evidence needs to be produced in the court since DNA evidence will not prove to be enough. 

Legal experts have pointed out a possible issue in the indictment of the culprit. The issue is that the Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order does not recognize DNA test as circumstantial evidence to decree a ruling against a suspect. The Supreme Court also doesn’t recognize a DNA test as adequate evidence against a suspect because it can be flawed.

Read more: Zainab atrocity brings to light other rape cases in the country

It was witnessed in a SC ruling in the criminal appeals (no. 497 and 496) on 15th October 2015 when they discarded DNA evidence as inadequate. The SC declared that Section 510 of the Criminal Procedures Code (CrPC) does not cover DNA test as viable evidence. The SC elaborated that the authenticity of a DNA test was still up for debate in the court of law and that no suspect can be awarded a death sentence on the basis of a DNA test alone.

The court maintained that different pieces of evidence make a chain in every crime, one piece of the chain should touch the victim and other should touch the neck of the abused. No single piece of evidence is enough to penalize a suspect. The SC discarded DNA evidence in that case as having no worth. According to legal experts, Article 17 of the Qanoon Shahadat Order (QSO) 1984 demands that witnesses should be produced for a crime according to the rulings of Shariah.

Legal experts are also of the opinion that there should be no ambiguity in the law for the timely service of justice to the people. Media analysts believe that Punjab police would have to find extra evidence to prosecute the culprit Imran in the rape and murder case of eight girls.

While Article 164 of the QSO recognizes the production of evidence that becomes available because of modern devices, it does not explicitly mention DNA tests as sufficient evidence in a crime. The Anti-Rape Laws of 2013, which were approved by the assembly in 2016, added section 164A to the QSO to cater for medical evidence in the case of a rape crime but it is up to the interpretation of the court.

Read more: Zainab culprit to be produced before Anti-Terrorism Court today

Officials of the Punjab government stated even though the Lahore High Court (LHC) has given rulings based on DNA evidence in the past, it is still obliged to the rulings of the SC when accepting DNA as credible evidence. Legal experts believe that the ambiguity in the law when it comes to the admission of DNA tests as viable evidence might create complications in the Zainab murder and rape case.

The court maintained that different pieces of evidence make a chain in every crime, one piece of the chain should touch the victim and other should touch the neck of the abused. No single piece of evidence is enough to penalize a suspect.

Civil and women rights activists demand the government to repeal all laws that facilitate the culprit and create hurdles in the way of justice. They also demand the addition of DNA tests for rape victims to be made part of the law since the availability of victims is subject to many conditions. Legal experts are also of the opinion that there should be no ambiguity in the law for the timely service of justice to the people.

Media analysts believe that Punjab police would have to find extra evidence to prosecute the culprit Imran in the rape and murder case of eight girls. Yesterday the video confession of the culprit surfaced on the media but the police confession of a culprit has no weight in the court of law. Complementary evidence needs to be produced in the court since DNA evidence will not prove to be enough. 


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