ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court Monday suspended an order of the anti-terrorism court (ATC) which had removed terrorism charges in a case on the murder of Barrister Fahad Malik.
The court had subsequently transferred the case to the district and sessions court for trial as a regular murder case.
A division bench comprising Justice Noorulhaq N Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq, while hearing an appeal against the ATC order, suspended the order, noting that it “requires consideration due to infirmities”.
Subsequently, the bench issued notices to respondents for February 16.
On December 21, ATC-I Judge Kausar Abbas Zaidi had accepted a plea from the suspects in the murder case for removing terrorism clauses from the FIR and sending the case to the sessions court for further trial.
The ATC had ruled that the offence did not fall within the ambit of the Anti-Terrorism Act and had subsequently transferred the case to the sessions court. However, Fahad’s brother Jawad Sohrab Malik, through his counsel Khawaja Naveed and Zain Qureshi, approached the IHC and challenged the ATC order.
The Shalimar police had booked Arshad Mehmood, Noman Khokhar and at least eight other people after Malik was gunned down near Shalimar Police Station in F-10/3 in the early hours of August 15. Tariq Ayub, Malik’s uncle, was also injured in the attack.
Three counsels for the suspects – Mehmood, Khokhar and Hashim Khan – had questioned the jurisdiction of the court, saying no fear and insecurity spread in the society because of the murder. They had alleged that the complainant used their influence to have ATA Section 7 inserted in the case.
Counsels for the suspects had argued before the ATC that the incident did not constitute an offence under section 7 since, as per the FIR, the attack took place at 3:30am at a desolated place, where no one was present. Moreover, people living in nearby houses did not come out and take notice.
They maintained that Section 7 could not be inserted where a personal enmity or vendetta was involved.
Ayub’s counsel, however, said that it was not possible for an injured man to narrate all the things in one go, adding that a supplementary statement was later added which revealed how the car hit the wall of a nearby house after allegedly coming under indiscriminate fire from the suspects.
He argued that statements of the witnesses also revealed that the murder took place at a public place and that people ran for their lives in fear because of the firing. Hence, the act has an impact on the public at large since it created helplessness among the public and constitutes an offence under Section 7 of ATA.
“When a barrister at law and the nephew of a senator are not safe, then who is safe in this country,” he had argued while replying to the argument that the concerned section had been added because of political influence.
In addition, he said, terror and fear had spread in society, especially because the suspects took pride in their heinous actions.
The case will now be taken up on February 16.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 7th, 2017.