ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has finally exonerated a man who was convicted of murder and handed down the death sentence by a sessions court in April 2004.
But the acquittal has come two years too late.
Apparently Mazhar Hussain, whose original appeal against the death sentence was turned down by a high court years before, died of coronary failure about two years ago while still in incarceration. He did not live to see the day when he would be acquitted.
Even the apex court was unaware that the appellent had passed away in prison.
Hussain’s exoneration came about 19 years after he was accused of murdering Muhammad Ismail in May 1997 in Dhoke Ali Haider within the jurisdiction of the Sihala police station, Islamabad.
Seven or eight months before the murder, there was a quarrel between Hussain and the nephew of the deceased, Muhammad Ismail. Police registered an FIR of the killing of Ismail.
Additional Sessions Judge Chaudhry Asad Raza handed the death sentence to Hussain under Section 302(b) of the Pakistan Penal Code in April 2004.
After the Lahore High Court upheld the verdict, Hussain took up his appeal before the Supreme Court.
The top court took up his case for the first time and granted leave to appeal in September 2010.
On October 6, after the passage of six years, the three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa resumed hearing of the case. However, no one had appeared to prosecute his appeal.
The bench availed the assistance of Advocate General Islamabad Mian Abdul Rauf, who was unaware that the convict had already passed away.
The apex court in its order observed that there were glaring omissions in the prosecution’s case. It also raised doubts about the medical evidence and the claimed presence of witnesses at the crime scene. From the medical evidence it was clear that the witnesses were lying about the time of the murder.
As the prosecution had failed to prove the case against Hussain beyond reasonable doubt, the apex court set aside the sentence and acquitted the accused and ordered his immediate release.
Later, family members told media that Hussain had died while serving out his sentence.
In June 2005, Hussain committed the murder of another condemned prisoner, Mulazam Hussain. On April 30, 2010, he was also convicted and sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment in addition to paying Diyat of Rs360,209 in the case by the trial court.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 9th, 2016.