Nearly nine years ago a court acquitted a man charged with attacking Fakhra Younus with acid – without hearing what she had to say.
This point, among others, has become the grounds on which a group of people have filed a petition to have to case reopened. The petition has been filed by the Pakistan Institute for Labour and Education Research (PILER), social worker Javed Iqbal Burki, Najma Sadiq of Shirkatgah and Saeed Baloch of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum.
On Monday, their lawyer Faisal Siddiqui also pointed out that neither was Fakhra medically examined at the time
At the time of the attack she was married to Malik Bilal Mustafa Khar, the son of veteran politician and former Punjab chief minister Ghulam Mustafa Khar.
According to the petition, on May 14, 2000, a person threw acid on Fakhra in her flat. Her brother Irfan Malik was also burnt and she was disfigured. Her mother Shahida Malik registered an FIR (No. 33/2000) with Napier police station the same day. According to the petitioner, Fakhra’s husband Bilal Khar surrendered himself after being on the run for two years. He went before the court of the district and sessions judge South then presided over by Agha Rafique Ahmed Khan, who is now the chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court.
Bilal Khar’s lawyer was Shahadat Awan, who is currently the prosecutor general of Sindh. Khar was acquitted as all four eyewitnesses, including Fakhra’s mother and brother, retracted their earlier statements before the police.
The trial court acquitted Khar for want of evidence while Fakhra was taken to Italy by Tehmina Khar, the estranged wife of Ghulam Mustafa Khar, who vowed to get justice.
The petitioners’ lawyer Faisal Siddiqui said that it was feared that the case record would be tampered with or documents could go missing. As a result, on Monday, Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Shafi Siddiqui of the Sindh High Court called for the entire record of the case to be preserved.
The petitioners have also appealed to the court to declare the March 16, 2003 judgment passed by the DJ South as illegal. They want a retrial and orders directing the sub-ordinate courts to ensure that evidence is recorded in an atmosphere free of intimidation.
The petitioner also maintains that trial courts should be asked to be sensitive and cautious in cases involving violence against women.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.