The Sindh High Court on Wednesday set aside the conviction of 15 people in a four-decade-old pending septuple murder case after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against...
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday set aside the conviction of 15 people in a four-decade-old pending septuple murder case after finding that the prosecution had failed to prove the charges against the appellants.
The appellants are Taj Mohammad, Badal, Edan, Ghulam Haider, Ilahi Bux Chandio, Bakshan, Abdullah, Mohammad Hanif, Niaz Hussain, Ghulam Mohammad Korejo, Usman Keerio, Rajab, Kamal, Allah Waryo and Wahid Bux.
They were sentenced to life imprisonment and other sentences by the Badin sessions court over the killing of seven people in a clash over the shrine trusteeship at Badin’s Dargah Luari Sharif on January 28, 1983.
According to the prosecution, the appellants, along with 12 others who either died during trial proceedings or remained absconders, had killed seven people and injured three others in a fight between two groups over a dispute regarding Gaddi Nashin of a local saint of the Badin shrine.
The appellants’ counsel Mahmood A Qureshi said that a large number of appellants were implicated by the complainant party because the complainant wanted to occupy the land that was in possession of the shrine.
He said there were contradictions in the testimonies of the eyewitnesses and they had been massively improved from what had been recorded earlier in the police statements. The complainant’s counsel and the additional prosecutor general said that the mere relationship of the prosecution witnesses with the deceased was no grounds to discredit their evidence.
They said that except four of them, all were said to be only present on the spot and they could not be given the benefit of the doubt, as all of them were involved in murdering and injuring the members of the complainant party.
After hearing the counsel’s arguments and perusing the evidence, a single SHC bench headed by Justice Omar Sial said eyewitness statements and medical evidences did not corroborate the allegations of the prosecution, while the prosecution’s own witness who was the case’s investigating officer also negated the allegations.
The court said that it has unfortunately taken 39 years to get this position, as 17 years were spent on trial and another 22 years have passed in the adjudication of the appeal. The court added that case record was voluminous and cumbersome wherein unnecessarily long, meaningless and repetitive cross-examinations coupled with scattered and incomplete paperwork compounded difficulties even more.
The bench said that it has examined the entire evidence holistically and was of the view that none of the appellants caused the death of any of the seven deceased persons. The bench added that there was considerable doubt whether the four appellants said to have caused injuries actually did so, while common intention was not proved to make those appellants present vicariously liable for the acts of their colleagues.
The SHC said the prosecution had failed to prove its charges against the appellants. The court allowed the appeal and acquitted the appellants of the murder charges, setting aside their sentences awarded to them by the Badin sessions court in 1999.