Tuesday February 07, 2023

SHC sets aside Shahrukh Jatoi’s death sentence under ATA

November 29, 2017

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday set aside the death sentence of Shahrukh Jatoi and other co-accused in Shahzaib Khan’s gruesome murder case by an anti-terrorism court observing that the terrorism laws were wrongly applied by the police and the proceedings of the anti-terrorism court against the appellants were not proper.

Shahrukh Jatoi, along with Nawab Siraj Ali Talpur, were sentenced to death while Siraj’s brother Nawab Sajjad Ali Talpur with his employee Ghulam Murtaza Lashari were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Anti-Terrorism Court on June 7, 2013 for murdering a private university student Shahzaib Khan on December 24, 2012.

The court declared that the killing of Shahzaib Khan, who was murdered in the DHA on December 24, 2012, was a case of “personal vendetta” and ordered that the trial proceedings be remanded back to the sessions court for denovo trial.

“We find that this was a case of personal vendetta hence section 6 of the Anti Terrorism Act was misapplied by the police as well as cognizance and trial was not proper,” an SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar observed in its judgment. “Accordingly, impugned judgment is set aside and the case is remanded back to the sessions court for denovo trial,” it ordered.

The court observed that the trial court would be competent to decide the compromise application within the four corners of the law as well as other applications if filed before the trial court.

The prosecution alleged that Ghulam Murtaza Lashsari, an employee of Siraj Talpur, eve-teased Shahzaib’s sister, resulting in a bickering between Shahzaib and Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and others, but the matter was resolved due to intervention of the Shahzaib’s father Aurangzaib Khan.

According to the prosecution, the accused followed Shahzaib, who left the house in his vehicle after the brawl, and later on instigation of absconding co-accused Asif Lund and Salman Jatoi, the accused Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur made murderous assault on Shahzaib, with pistols at Khayaban-e-Bahria near the Mubarak Masjid. Shahzeb succumbed to injuries at the Ziauddin Hospital.

The brutal killing of Shahzeb allegedly by the persons belonging to influential families sparked public outrage and protest demonstrations by civil society and ultimately the Supreme Court also took suo moto notice of the incident and ordered the police to arrest the culprits and prosecute them without delay.

The appellants’ counsel argued that the Supreme Court in the recent Waris Ali case had held that crimes committed due to private revenge or to say traditional crimes could not be dragged into the fold of terrorism and terrorist activities. They submitted that the instant case is also a case of personal vendetta as concluded by the trial court in its judgment and argued that this case should have been tried by the sessions court instead of anti terrorism court.

The counsel for complainant, Mehmood Alam Rizvi, submitted that a compromise had also arrived between the parties but in accordance with the Waris Ali case, this is not a case of terrorism, so a compromise cannot be accepted.

Prosecutor General Shahdad Awan, however, contended that in this case, the compromise application was filed under Section 345 (2) and a trial court after recording evidence declared the compromise genuine. Shahrukh’s counsel Farooq H Naek submitted that the trial court had wrongly concluded that the appellant was not juvenile whereas he was a juvenile as per his academic certificates and other documents adding that he will withdraw the application if the court would remand the case back to the Sessions Court.

The SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, observed that the case of Waris Ali prima facie put a seal to the legal position that conventional or customary crimes like murder, attempted murder, causing hurt, theft, etc, regardless of nature of weapons use would not fall within the jurisdiction of anti terrorism law. The court observed that the motive in the instant case was personal vendetta and therefore the case was not liable for trial by the special court.