Home Global Village Shahzeb murder case sent back to ATC by the Supreme Court

Shahzeb murder case sent back to ATC by the Supreme Court

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News Analysis |

The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan has set aside the Sindh High Court (SHC) order to remove the terrorism clauses from the Shahzeb murder case and sent the case back to the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) for a re-trial from scratch. The three accused, Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and Sajjad Ali Talpur, were immediately taken into custody by Islamabad police and will be handed over to the Sindh police. Their names will also be added to Exit Control List (ECL).

The three member SC bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was reviewing a civil petition on the Shahzeb murder case against the SHC decision to remove the terrorism clauses; the petitions were turned into a suo motu case. The hearing of the case began on Wednesday. The bench initially questioned their authority over a SHC decision, to which they were assured that they had the authority to overturn a SHC decision.

Law experts have considered this decision a dark one in the history of judiciary because it might ensure justice in the case of one victim but it will create hindrance in the path of justice for many victims in the future.

During the hearing, CJP Mian Saqib Nisar said that according to Article 187 of the constitution, the court has the right to ensure that justice is provided. The bench said that they will not review the whole case and it would go on in the ATC. The detailed judgment and the reason for overturning the decision of SHC will be released later but the CJP remarked that the victory sign flashed by Jatoi has led to his downfall since he has made a mockery out of the judicial system.

Read more: Shahzeb murder case: SC asks what constitutes terrorism?

On December 24th, 2012, 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan, the son of Deputy Superintendent of Police Aurangzeb Khan, was gunned down in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority by Shahrukh Jatoi and his accomplices. On 7th June 2013, Shahrukh Jatoi was awarded death sentence by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC). Shahzeb’s family pardoned Shahrukh on 9th September, 2013 but pardons are not accepted in the ATC.

Legal experts advised that the need of the time is not to have an umbrella definition of terrorism, but the reform of the existing laws that privatize justice and put it in the hands of a few influential people.

Shahrukh Jatoi filed a review petition in the SHC on 17th August 2016 to remove the Anti-Terrorism clause from his case since it was an issue of personal enmity. The SHC accepted his petition on 28th November 2017 and declared that the reason for murder was personal enmity. It ordered the removal of anti-terrorism clauses from the case and revoked the punishments awarded by the ATC and ordered a retrial of the cases in a session’s court.

Read more: Zafar Hijzai in hospital instead of Jail: How the powerful don’t…

Now that the case is back in the ATC, the pardon given by Shahzeb’s family to Shahrukh Jatoi will become null and void since a pardon cannot be granted in an anti-terrorism case. The civil society and human rights activists have celebrated the judgment by the SC and declared it a victory for the poor and innocents of the country. They thanked the SC for hearing their petition and ensuring that justice is provided to the culprits in the Shahzeb murder case.

During the hearing, CJP Mian Saqib Nisar said that according to Article 187 of the constitution, the court has the right to ensure that justice is provided. The bench said that they will not review the whole case and it would go on in the ATC.

Legal experts are perturbed over the loose definition of terrorism that the SC has adopted in this case. They expressed that it will set a wrong precedent for future cases since cases of personal enmity shouldn’t be trialed in the ATC. Legal experts advised that the need of the time is not to have an umbrella definition of terrorism, but the reform of the existing laws that privatize justice and put it in the hands of a few influential people.

Law experts have considered this decision a dark one in the history of judiciary because it might ensure justice in the case of one victim but it will create hindrance in the path of justice for many victims in the future.


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