News Analysis |
In the latest development, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mr. Asif Saeed Khosa has listed the Khadija Siddiqi stabbing case for Jan 23rd. The CJP who is heading a two-member bench of the apex court will hear the appeal against a decision given by the Lahore High Court (LHC). This case was taken up by the former CJP after a campaign was run on social media when the LHC acquitted a convicted attacker.
Who is Khadija Siddiqi and What is her Story?
Khadija Siddiqui, a law student, was attacked by her class fellow Shah Hussain, on May 3, 2016, near Shimla Hill where she, along with her driver, Riaz Ahmad, had gone to pick her younger sister, Sofia Siddiqi, from school. Both sisters were getting into their car when a helmet-wearing boy came and stabbed Khadija 23 times in a few seconds. She got critically injured and was shifted to Services Hospital by her driver.
The medical report had proved that the DNA in both samples was the same, which was evidence against suspect Hussain. Khadija’s lawyer said that “Forensic report cannot be altered.”
Initially, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered against an unidentified person but later on, Shah Hussain, a classmate of Khadija was nominated in the FIR on May 8, 2016.
A judicial magistrate handed down ‘seven-year rigorous imprisonment’ to Hussain after finding him guilty of attempted murder on July 29, 2017. However, a sessions court in March 2018 set aside the minor penalties of the convict and commuted the sentenced to five years. Last year, the LHC acquitted the convict on the basis of insufficient evidence. The decision of the LHC was widely criticized by the media, civil society, and the public.
Detailed Judgement of LHC
A detailed judgment authored by Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem of the Lahore High court was released shortly after the acquittal of Mr. Shah. The judge had made some interesting observations with regard to the investigation process in the country. The judge had written that although star witness had denied suggestions that it was a ‘high-profile’ case yet acknowledged that Tehmina Durrani had exercised her influence at a later stage and that the investigating officer had also said it was a ‘high-profile’ case. He also stated that Khadija Siddiqi, the victim and “injured eyewitness”, had “not described the true/complete tale”; and that the attack “may have taken place, but not in the manner as described by the eye/injured witnesses”.
The judge further noted that according to the witness the attacker was wearing a red-colored helmet but a black-colored helmet was recovered from the car. However, it is important to note that the prosecution had submitted challan in the court in which the blood on suspect Shah Hussain’s helmet matched Khadija’s DNA. The medical report had proved that the DNA in both samples was the same, which was evidence against suspect Hussain. Khadija’s lawyer said that “Forensic report cannot be altered.”
The judge insisted that Khadija’s clothes, which she was wearing during the time of the occurrence, had also not been taken by the investigation officers for proper examination. The knife, the accused used to injure Khadija, was taken into custody after five months of the investigation from the Jinnah Garden.
Many victims like Khadija Siddiqi fail to get justice due to legal technicalities which encourage criminals to carry on extralegal activities across the country.
According to the judgment, Khadija had said that the accused harassed her but she never complained to the college authorities or to her parents. She also wrote a four pages letter to Shah Hussain proposing him for marriage and mentioned thrice “Qabool hai, Qabool hai, Qabool hai” (I accept, I accept, I accept).
According to reports, there were CCTV footages that clearly showed Hussain, who was wearing a helmet, attacking Khadija with a knife. The attacker was recognized when the girl’s driver intervened and his helmet fell off his head. Hair samples also found in the helmet belonged to the accused.
According to the judge, Khadija initially said ‘a boy’ attacked her; she did not mention the name of Shah Hussain. The judge was also concerned about the way injuries had been reported. Initially, there were 11 injuries and after operating Khadija (the details have not been mentioned) there were 23 injuries reported by the medical staff, the judge noted.
The judge concluded that since the charged against the petitioner were not established beyond all shadows of reasonable doubts. He is given benefit of doubt and acquitted of the charges.”
GVS Approached a Legal Expert
As the judgment of the LHC demonstrates that the investigation process had remained compromised, questionable, and unreliable throughout the course of this case. GVS approached a law expert and recorded his comments on the detailed judgment of the LHC.
“The LHC judge has rightly pointed out towards the flaws in the investigation process. Many pieces of evidence, which were available, were not collected by the investigation officer. Secondly, the prosecution committed multiple errors. Khadija should have appeared before a medical board or she should have challenged the order for the Constitution of Board. Prosecution should have requested the trial court to summon the surgeons who operated Khadija.
Khadija expects that she will be served with justice by the apex court. CJP Khosa, who is known for the provision of speedy justice, will hear the case. He neither postpones nor reserves the verdicts.
Moreover, the accused was not nominated in the FIR; the proper course was to file a private complaint to make this deficiency.
However, the judge should have accepted her explanation for non-mentioning the name of accused in her first application. If we accept the facts as narrated in the judgment, it warrants acquittal. Problem is with the investigation agencies and the prosecution, adjudication isn’t bad,” a Lahore-based legal expert said.
He further said that “Khadija case has exposed our justice system—not only judiciary to blame for. Do you know most of our investigation officers are matriculate, no formal education in modern investigation techniques?”
“The modern world depends on forensic and circumstantial evidence, while our system relies upon oral accounts,” the expert added.
Many victims like Khadija Siddiqi fail to get justice due to legal technicalities which encourage criminals to carry on extralegal activities across the country. Also required is the education and training of investigation officers to comply with modern techniques.
Pakistan needs to focus on her justice system which has so far failed to give justice to a girl who was publically stabbed for 23 times. It is ironic that how Shah Hussein was proved guilty of attempted murder, with solid evidence last year, was acquitted because the same evidence was being deemed unreliable and as possibly fabricated.
Read more: Status of women – Letter to Editor
Khadija expects that she will be served with justice by the apex court. CJP Khosa, who is known for the provision of speedy justice, will hear the case. He neither postpones nor reserves the verdicts. Therefore, the case is expected to be decided soon in the future.