Citing lack of evidence, the Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday set aside the life imprisonment awarded to a man and his mother in the case of his wife’s murder.
Rameez Hameed Khan and his mother Kaniz Fatima were sentenced to life imprisonment by a District Central additional district and sessions court for burning to death Rameez’s wife on March 14, 2017 in the New Karachi area.
Other family members of the appellants Danish, Khalid, Somia, Sana and Mehreen were acquitted by the trial court as the prosecution could not prove charges against them. According to the prosecution, the appellants along with other family members had set Rameez wife’s Saleha ablaze and she later succumbed to her injuries at the Civil Hospital.
The prosecution said that the victim had recorded in her statement that her spouse physically abused her and her mother-in-law lit up a paper from which she put Saleha’s dupatta on fire that spread to her clothes. She added that she was taken to hospital after she had promised that she would not tell anyone about the incident, the prosecution added.
Counsel for the appellants submitted that the statement of the victim could not be relied upon as she had herself told her cousin, who was also a prosecution witness, that she had set herself on fire to.
The counsel said that the reason for false implication of the appellants on part of the victim’s family was that she had married Rameez of her own free will. They submitted that the prosecution witnesses’ evidence were full of contradiction and sought acquittal of the appellants.
Supporting the impugned judgment, an additional prosecutor general submitted that even if there was no other evidence, the dying declaration made by the victim must be given weight as a dying person did not lie.
A single bench of the high court comprising Justice Omar Sial after hearing the arguments and perusal of evidence observed that the prosecution claimed that Saleha was set on fire by her in-laws whereas the appellants claimed she attempted suicide.
The SHC observed that the incident took place on March 13, 2017, bit it was not until March 19 the details of what transpired were revealed ostensibly by Saleha herself. The bench observed that the prosecution did not examine the doctor who did not allow the police to record the statement of victim to support the prosecution case.
The SHC observed that the prosecution also failed to examine the first doctor who treated Saleha, as well as the doctor who confirmed her death and issued the death certificate at the trial court.
The high court observed that a prosecution witness had deposed that he had told the police that Saleha had told him that she herself had tried to set herself on fire because she was unhappy with Rameez.
The SHC observed that it was an admitted fact that Rameez and his wife Saleha had married against the wishes of Saleha’s family when she was 15 years old and he was 16 years old, and her family for a long time did not even meet their daughter.
The high court observed that all the members, both men and women, of Rameez’s family were implicated in the crime, which suggested mala fide intention. The high court observed that it was not convinced that what the prosecution termed a dying declaration was indeed a dying declaration.
The SHC observed that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond any shadow of doubt and set aside the trial court order. The court acquitted the appellants from murder charges and ordered their release if not required in other cases.
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