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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Why did SC dismiss the review petition of Shahrukh Jatoi?

News Desk |

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) has dismissed the review petition filed by Shahrukh Jatoi and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari convicted of Shahzeb Khan’s murder in December 2012. The convicted murderers failed to overturn the earlier apex orders of canceling their bails in the Shahzab Khan murder case. Under the controversial circumstances, Sindh High Court (SHC) had granted them bail which created an uproar among the civil society.

Read more: Shahzeb murder case sent back to ATC by the Supreme Court

On February 1, in the presence of the main accused, a three-judge SC bench comprised of Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and headed by the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar had canceled the bails of Shahrukh Jatoi and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari. CJP had ordered policemen present inside the courtroom to take into custody the accused Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur, and Sajjad Talpur after declaring the earlier decision of the SHC null and void.

Moreover, the court restored the terrorism charges against the convicted murderers. SHC had ordered to set aside anti-terrorism charges based on the reasoning that the murder case did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and should be tried by the ordinary court.

After accepting the case, on January 13, SC had initially issued boilable warrants for the accused against a surety bond of Rs500,000 each.

SHC had also ordered the retrial of the case after declaring that terrorism charges should be dropped because the prime suspect was a juvenile at the time of the crime.

The apex court had been moved by the joint appeal of civil society members including Jibran Nasir, Jamshed Raza Mahmood  Naeem Sadiq, Nazim Fida Hussain Haji, Karamat Ali, Zulfiqar Shah, Aquila Ismail and Afiya Shehrbano Zia challenging SHC’s Nov 28, 2017, decision.

After accepting the case, on January 13, SC had initially issued boilable warrants for the accused against a surety bond of Rs500,000 each and passed the directive to the interior ministry to put the names of the accused on the Exit Control List.

Shahzeb Khan’s murder: An act of terrorism or not?

During the court proceedings, the main arguments in the case were related to anti-terrorism charges. Should the anti-terrorism charges be dropped or not? 

Advocate Siddiqi was of the view that the brutal murder of Shazeb sparked terror and created panic, fear, and insecurity among the residents of DHA and Clifton vicinity and among the public in general in Karachi.

He reminded the court that ATC had earlier rejected their plea to transfer case to session court in March 2013 and even the SHC upheld the ATC order on the same. Siddiqi argued that provisions of Section 6 of the ATA are fully attracted in this case which makes it clear that case falls under the jurisdiction of the ATC.

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

Moreover, citing the case proceedings under the former CJP Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, he reminded the judges that apex court had not objected to the inclusion of anti-terrorism charges in 2012. Therefore, a case which leads to countrywide protests under the facts established must proceed in ATC.

The defense team which is constituted of Advocates Latif Khosa and Babar Awan, representing Shahrukh Jatoi and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, respectively, argued that the murder was a result of a personal grudge which does not fall under the terrorism. And at the time of the incident, no one was subjected to terror and none of the witnesses believe it to be an act of terrorism.

The main point of disagreement emerged when Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf conceded that SHC was wrong to ignore the directives passed by the SC to try the accused in ATC.

To this, Latif Khan Khosa argued that it was the fault of accused if SHC had given wrong orders. Besides, 2013 order of the SC on suo motu was not a determination.

Read more: Mashal’s family challenge ATC verdict in the Peshawar High Court

The defense also asked the court that if it was possible to term the media hype as terrorism? It blamed media for sensationalizing the event prior to SC suo motu action.

Despite the number of arguments from defense where it also termed the SHC order full of imperfections, and absence of any terrorism-related charges in the first FIR lodged. He asked the court to use Article 184(3) of the Constitution specifically for the sake of public interest; otherwise a child will spend his whole life in making rounds of the courts.

CJP observed that accused will be acquitted if the anti-terrorism charges are removed and rejected review petitions, ordering lawyers to argue in SHC against the charges, where SHC is to decide on appeals within two months under a different bench.