Friday August 12, 2022

LHC issues detailed verdict on acquittal of lawyer’s son in Khadija case

By Our Correspondent
June 08, 2018

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Thursday issued a detailed judgment on acquittal of a lawyer's son of charges of mercilessly stabbing his classmate, Khadija Siddique, ruling that the prosecution failed to establish the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem held, “he (Shah Hussain) is given the benefit of the doubt and acquitted of the charges.” In July last year, a judicial magistrate awarded Shah Hussain rigorous imprisonment of seven-year under Section 324 (attempted murder) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), two-year under Section 337A(i) (causing injuries), five-year under Section 337A(ii), one-year under Section 337F(i), three-year under Section 337F(ii) and five-year under Section 337F(iv). A sessions court, however, in March this year had lessened the rigorous imprisonment by two years awarded by the trial court to Hussain while set aside the other minor penalties.

In a 12-page detailed judgment on criminal revision moved by Shah Hussain, Justice Naeem said that the attack took place on a thoroughfare in broad daylight but no independent witness was cited by the prosecution. During the cross examination, the injured admitted that she had different friends and had her photographs with all of them in or outside the college, including the petitioner (Shah Hussain).

“She denied the suggestions that it was a 'high-profile' case or there was some external pressure but acknowledged that Tahmina Durani exercised her influence at a later stage and that the investigating officer also gave similar statement that it was a “high-profile case”, the judgment said.

The judge said that the prosecution could not establish the case as there were contradictions and the facts on the basis of which the decision was announced. He said Khadija Siddiqi, the victim and "injured eyewitness", had "not described the true/complete tale"; and that the attack "may have taken place, but not in the manner as described by the eye/injured witnesses".

On one side, injured Khadija claimed that she was not in her senses and justified to explain the delay, whereas, the prosecution could not prove that Khadija Siddique was unconscious as the medical officer during her cross examination admitted that she examined her orientation by asking many medical questions, including the name, place, time, person and she answered “correctly”. On other side, she gone on to depose that the injured told her that a boy attacked upon her with a knife on the road nearly at 2 pm on that day. She observed 11 injures as mentioned in the medical report, however, at trial she described that the injured sustained 23 injuries.

“The injured being unconscious could not nominate the petitioner (Shah Hussain). They were known to each other. There was no question of mistaken identity. The injured regained her senses on May 8, 2016 and nominated the petitioner but it is falsified by the medical officer as she stated that injured told that a boy attacked upon her. She was straightforwardly shifted to Services Hospital from the place of the occurrence. But this fact is belied by her medical certificate which reflects that the injured, Khadija and her sister, were medically examined by the order of magistrate Section-30, Lahore Cantt, before the registration of the FIR,” the judge held.

“Evidence of eye/injured witnesses, thus, could not be relied upon with any amount of confidence,” he said. He also said: “This aspect of these witnesses had escaped the notice of both the courts below (the two courts which had heard the case earlier) resulting in miscarriage of justice,” the judge held.

The judge also questioned the knife used by the attacker as it was taken into possession after five months of the attack — and why it was not blood-stained when it was recovered. He also questioned a discrepancy in the colour of the helmet worn by the attacker as described by the prosecution witnesses.

He also held that why Khadija had deposed that Hussain harassed her when she "wrote a letter of four pages, proposing him for marriage and had "never complained against the petitioner for any misconduct or harassment and then ruled that he could not believe her as the motive set up by the prosecution comes to the ground.

He also pointed out that injury on a witness was only indication of his presence at the spot but was not affirmative proof of his credibility and truthfulness. It is not a universal rule that each and every word coming from the mouth of injured person is truth. The judge ruled that there were also reasons to believe that the investigating officer might have spoilt the case he could not secure the evidence like the victim’s bloodstained clothes and the mats inside the car which might have carried bloodstains.

On May 3, 2016, Khadija went to Davis Road to pick up her sister from a school. When the two were about to get into the car, the Shah Hussain allegedly attacked her. The victim said her younger sister was also injured. She said the attacker tried to flee but she grabbed him and his helmet fell off after which she recognised him.

Civil Lines police had registered a case against Shah Hussain on charges of attempted murder. She said the accused also used to harass her before the incident took place. Khadija’s sister also recorded her statement and recognised Shah Hussain as the assailant in the courtroom.

Moreover, the LHC on Thursday directed the electronic media to air apology at prime time and gave ultimatum of three days to the print media to print apology at front page for publishing speculations against the judiciary over the acquittal of Shah Hussain.

In a press release issued on Thursday evening, the LHC registrar said that this campaign was not against the honorable judge in isolation rather it was part of the campaign which was being sponsored to malign the judiciary as a whole. All these speculations are strongly rebutted and condemned and it is made clear that the institution reserves the right to initiate legal proceedings against the delinquent.

“It has been brought into the notice of office that due to the news item with reference to a judgment passed by Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem, various speculations are being aired in electronic, print and social media. The victim of aforesaid case has categorically stated in her interview that she was called upon by the judge in his chambers, whereby she was persuaded in presence of his father to enter into compromise with petitioner/victim (second party-Shah Hussain). She has further speculated that the judge might have been persuaded by the Punjab governor to pass the judgment of acquittal in favour of the petitioner/victim.”

These news items are squarely concocted, frivolous and are being aired/published in electronic/social and print media with a malicious attempt to malign the judiciary as an institution.

The electronic media having aired the above said frivolous news item is directed to air apology at prime time. Similarly, the print media is directed to do the needful while printing apology at front page of the newspaper within three days. In case of failure either on part of electronic and print media, they will e proceeded against strictly in accordance with law. PEMRA and Press Council of Pakistan are directed to submit their respective compliance repots with regard to apology.