Freedom of expression cannot erode right to free trial: ATC

Judgement acquitting Rao Anwar says police presented weak evidence, prosecution failed to prove case
Web Desk – January 24, 2023

KARACHI: Special Anti-Terrorism Court has issued a written verdict in Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case and has directed media to keep law in mind while analysing cases under hearing in the courts.The court said that freedom of expression should not affect the transparency of cases.

“The right to fair trial (Article-10-A of the Constitution) should not be eroded and infringed upon with overzealous use of the right to freedom of expression (Article-19-A of the Constitution),” the judgement read reference to reporting on sub-judice cases.

The ATC 16 judge wrote that a recently published editorial in an English newspaper has tendency to drive a judge in a particular direction.

The court said that proper analytical report and healthy criticism is the right of media after the verdict, however, the criminal justice system works only on the basis of evidence.

Courts cannot be blamed for police mistakes. The evidence presented by police to court is judged on law and judicial standards.

The Special Anti-Terrorism Court No16 judge in Anti-Terrorism Complex in Karachi Central Jail issued a 43-page written verdict in Naseebullah alias Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case.

According to written verdict, the court acquitted 18 accused including former SSP Malir Rao Anwar, DSP Qamar Ahmed from the case.

Others acquitted include Muhammad Yasin, Supard Hussain, Syed Rais Abbas, Khizar Hayat, Allahyar Kaka, Muhammad Iqbal, Arshad Ali, Ghulam Nazuq, Abdul Ali, Shafiq Ahmed, Muhammad Anar, Ali Akbar, Faisal Mahmood, Khair Muhammad, Syed Imran Kazmi and Shakeel Feroze are included.

The court issued permanent arrest warrants for seven fugitive accused. The fugitives include Amanullah Marwat, Gada Hussain, Mohsin Abbas, Sadaqat Hussain Shah, Raja Shamim Mukhtar, Rana Riaz and Sheikh Muhammad Shoaib alias Shooter. In the written judgment, the court said that doubts have been found in the case.

According to Islamic and international law, benefit of doubt goes in favour of accused. It is a rule that acquittal is better than conviction by mistake.

The Judge of Special Court 16 has said in judgment that the court considers that the prosecution could not prove the case, so the accused are acquitted.

The verdict stated that the evidence collected was insufficient. The accused cannot be deprived of the benefit of doubt.

According to written decision, Rao Anwar’s lawyer Aamir Mansob said in his arguments that prosecution’s case is based on poor evidence. Doubts are found in the prosecution’s case and the benefit of doubts goes in favour of the accused, which is the rule of the world.

“No direct evidence has been found against the accused,” Mansob said adding that the call data record was presented as evidence against the accused. Rao Anwar was implicated in this case on the basis of professional animosity, he said asserting that no witness identified Rao Anwar.

According to the written decision, Farooq Hayat the counsel for accused Shakeel Feroze said that there was no evidence against his clients other than the alleged location which was not confirmed by any cellular company or any official.

Anwer Shaik Advocate Counsel of accused Yasin, Supard Hussain and Syed Imran Kazmi, argued that no evidence was found against his clients and no one identified them.

In the written judgment, it was said that the lawyer of the accused Khizr Hayat, Rana Arshad Advocate, said in arguments that there is no recovery against his clients, nor has any witness identified him.

SSP Qamar Ahmed’s counsel Malik Mazhar Hussain Advocate argued that his client was named in the case on the basis of CDR, whereas his client reached the spot after the incident.

Abid Zaman Advocate and Ghulam Hussain Advocate lawyers of accused Muhammad Anar, Khair Mohammad, Faisal Mehmood, Arshad Ali, Abdul Ali, Shafiq Ahmed, Muhammad Iqbal and Ghulam Nazuq, said in arguments that there is no truth in the evidence presented against their clients.

Majeed Khoso advocate appeared on behalf of accused Allahyar and argued that witnesses Muhammad Qasim and Hazrat Ali failed to identify the accused.

Accused Akbar Mallah’s lawyer Pir Asadullah Shah Rashidi said that the CDR of his client was not taken. In the case, it was not proved whether the two eyewitnesses were present with Naqeebullah or not. In the written verdict, it was said that according to the investigating officer Dr Rizwan, no forensics was conducted of the mobile phone of any accused.

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