SC issues notices to all accused in Mukhtaran Mai rape case

In her 2011 review petition victim says she is aggrieved of and dissatisfied with findings of apex court

Hasnaat Mailk April 21, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) on Thursday issued notices to all accused in Mukhtaran Mai gang rape case against a review petition filed in 2011 by the victim seeking recall of an earlier judgement by the top court.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Saqib Nisar, took up Mai’s review petition against the top court’s April 21, 2011 verdict regarding the acquittal of five of the six accused.

Aitzaz Ahsan, counsel for Mai, appeared and argued the case. The hearing of the case has been adjourned for an indefinite period.

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In 2011, a three-member bench of the SC had upheld the verdict of the Lahore High Court (LHC) in Mai’s gang-rape case and acquitted five of the six accused and dismissed the petitions. On May 19, 2011, Mai filed a review petition in the apex court against the verdict.

Initially, 14 accused had been nominated in the case, and eight were acquitted. The remaining six were given death sentences by the trial court. Later, the LHC acquitted five of them and converted the death sentence of one of the accused to a life-term. The SC took suo motu notice while the victim and accused Abdul Khaliq also filed petitions in the apex court.

Currently, in her review petition, Mai has pleaded that the court should review and recall the judgment and grant relief as prayed in the titled criminal appeal. She has also requested the court to constitute a larger bench to hear her review petition, contending that she is aggrieved of and dissatisfied with the findings of the court.

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“The findings, reasons and considerations of this court that led to the conclusion as stated herein before are based on erroneous assumptions of material facts and misreading of the record…,” the petition states. Mai contended that the judges had misapplied the principles relating to appeals against the acquittal.

Her counsel further submitted that Hazoor Bakhsh and Ghulam Hussain, being close relatives of the petitioner-complainant, could not pass the test of independent witnesses; therefore, the recovery of the pistol from the accused should be disbelieved.

Ahsan further submitted that the majority judges had upset the settled law by holding that even where a prosecution witness is not produced, his or her statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) could still be used and that too under Section 172 (2) of the CrPC and that inference could be drawn from it for the purposes, or under Article 129(g) of the Qanoon-e-Shahadat Order, 1984.

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“The observation of majority judges that suggestions during cross-examination could be considered against the accused only if he/she had taken a statutory defence is contrary to the settled law on this point, especially when there is no ‘statutory defence’ to the offence of rape”, Ahsan said.