ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday questioned the police's logic behind snubbing the basics in the high-profile case of Noor Mukadam's murder.
The brutal murder of 27-year-old Noor by Zahir Jaffer in a house in Islamabad's upscale neighbourhood, Sector F-7/4, sent shivers down the spine when it was reported on 20 July 2021.
The trial, comprising 25 hearings in total, continued for four months till the prime suspect Zahir was convicted and sentenced to death. He was fined Rs500,000 as compensation to the heirs of the deceased as required under Section 544-A of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Meanwhile, co-accused Jan Muhammad and Muhammad Iftikhar, the gardener and security guard at Zahir's house, have been sentenced to 10 years in prison each. Zahir's mother Asmat Adamjee, father Zakir Jaffer and cook Jamil have been acquitted, along with all employees of Therapy Works.
On Thursday, the IHC heard separate appeals filed by the lawyers of Noor's father — who was the complainant in the murder case — former Pakistani ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam and the convict Zahir.
The high court had taken up the appeals from the two parties, one seeking an increase in convicts' sentences and challenging the acquittal of the remaining accused, while the other challenging the death sentence, respectively.
During the hearing by Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, the court questioned the logic behind police ignoring basic facts surrounding the case.
Accused Zahir Jaffer's lawyer Usman Khosa said that he has filed a petition for a medical examination on behalf of his client.
The judge said that he wants to read the first information report (FIR) which has contradictions in the prosecution's statement.
Were the mobile phones of complainant Shaukat Mukadam and Zahir Jaffer taken at the time of investigation, the court asked.
At this, the complainant's lawyer said that his mobile phone was not taken but only Zahir's phone was seized.
Khosa said that Shaukat told about receiving a WhatsApp call first time during the cross-examination.
The court inquired what will happen if the complainant has given a wrong statement.
Zahir's lawyer said the case was based on a connection made through a phone call between the complainant and the accused.
At this, the court said that Zahir called Shaukat and it was not Shaukat who called Zahir.
The court instructed the complainant's lawyer to tell whether Noor called her father on July 19 or not.
Khosa said that Shaukat informed about his daughter missing on July 18 and not on July 19. According to the call detail record (CDR), Noor was found in Lahore, not Islamabad.
"It is possible that the girl did not rightly inform her father," Justice Farooq remarked.
Zahir's lawyer said that his client had a flight on July 19, however, he came back as soon as he left the house because the girl might have asked him to stop for her.
At this, Justice Farooq told the lawyer that he is making things up.
"What are you trying to tell by saying that he came back one minute after he left in the taxi for his flight?" the court inquired.
"I am trying to say that Zahir Jaffer had no plans on killing," lawyer Khosa said.
The lawyer said that the victim called Zahir six times while travelling from Naval Anchorage to F-7 which he did not attend.
"The first call was made from Naval Anchorage, the others were made while she was on her way and the last one was made outside Zahir Jaffer's home," the lawyer remarked.
Khosa said that Zahir was arrested at 9:20 while the FIR states that the incident took place at 10:00.
At this, Shaukat's lawyer said that he was not arrested by the police at that time.
Justice Farooq inquired when did the police reach the site of the incident.
"The policeman informed that they reached at 9:30," informed Zahir's lawyer.
"How did the incident take place at 10 then?" asked Justice Farooq.
The court inquired whether the victim had torture marks on her body at the time of post-mortem.
At this, Khosa replied that she had marks on her body, however, she might have gotten them from jumping.
The court adjourned the hearing against Zahir's sentence till Tuesday.
Twenty-seven-year-old Noor was found dead at the residence of the prime suspect, Zahir Jaffer, in Islamabad's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20, 2021.
After an FIR was registered under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on behalf of Noor's father, Zahir was arrested with a murder weapon and bloodstained clothes from the crime scene on the day of the killing.
According to Noor's father, Zahir killed Noor with a sharp instrument and severed her head.
As the police went deeper into investigations, Zahir's parents were found involved in concealing evidence and assisting their son in the crime. Both Zahir's mother and father were arrested on July 25, 2021.
However, the couple was later granted bail on separate occasions as they reached out to higher courts for release on bail.
Moreover, six employees of Therapy Works, a leading therapy and drug rehabilitation centre in Islamabad, were also arrested.
The organisation came under scrutiny after it was revealed that Zahir Jaffer, had himself been associated with Therapy Works.
Moreover, Zahir was sent on judicial and physical remands multiple times for interrogations before the trial started.
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