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January 10, 2020

Deputy prosecutor general told to argue on journalist’s plea against conviction

Karachi

January 10, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Thursday directed the deputy prosecutor general to come prepared and argue on an appeal of a senior journalist against a judgment of an anti-terrorism court which he convicted him under the anti-terrorism law for possessing literature and magazines of banned organisations.

Nasrullah Khan, who has been associated with an Urdu daily, was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment by the ATC on November 26 for possessing literature and magazines of outlawed organisations that incited hatred against state institutions and the government, besides having links with activists of such outfits.

According to the prosecution, the Counter Terrorism Department had arrested Khan on a spy’s information in the Soldier Bazaar area on November 11, 2018, and seized four backdated magazines of the Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad from his possession, in which people had been incited against state institutions, sectarian hatred and supporting the late Afghan Talban emir Mullah Omer.

Filing an application for the suspension of the sentence, the appellant’s counsel, Mohammad Farooq, submitted that his client was a senior journalist and had nothing to do with any proscribed organisation. He submitted that Khan had been arrested at his house on November 10, and after two days of illegal detention he had been implicated in a false and fabricated case.

He argued that the material shown to be recovered from the possession of the journalist was old magazines and police failed to prove that the appellant was printing, publishing or disseminating any material to incite hatred in the public or giving projection to any person convicted of a terrorist act.

The counsel submitted that the joint investigation team’s opinion had no value in the eyes of the law; besides, it failed to prove any nexus of the applicant with any proscribed organisation. He stated that the trial court erred in judgment by convicting the appellant as the prosecution case was full of doubts and based on fictitious grounds. He requested the court to set aside the trial court order and acquit the appellant of charges.

He also requested the high court to suspend the sentence of the appellant as his client would suffer losses of his freedom if appeal was allowed by the court.

The deputy prosecutor general sought a copy of the appeal as well as of the application for the suspension of the sentence, and submitted that he did not receive any copy of the appeal for the reply.

A division bench headed by Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto observed that the prosecutor’s request was unjustified as a notice had already been issued to the prosecutor general. The court fixed the matter for January 14 for hearing the application for the suspension of the sentence as well as for appeal, and directed the deputy prosecutor general to argue on the plea.

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