ISLAMABAD: In a surprise move, the top court on Friday acquitted three convicts in an honour killing case after they had been convicted by the Lahore High Court and were imprisoned for 12 years.
The three judge special bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Qazi Faez Isa, had observed that the prosecution failed to prove its case which led to the acquittal.
The three convicts Ijaz Ahmad, Shahid Iqbal and Muhammad Iqbal were involved in the killing of a couple in Hafaz Abad on May 10, 2005. A trial court had awarded the death sentence to Ijaz Ahmad and life imprisonment to the other two. However, LHC later overturned Ijaz’s death sentence to life imprisonment.
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The bench, while hearing the case, wondered how was it possible that two different cases were registered of the same incident. They passed the remarks after the police submitted two different challans. They also observed that this showed that the police itself was not interested in improving the criminal justice system.
Deputy Prosecutor General Punjab Muhammad Jaffir, during the hearing, told the court that Mohsin and Fozia were murdered at different places therefore, the two cases were registered.
However, Justice Khosa observed that it is the job of the police to not only focus on the complainant’s stance but also to dig out the truth. He lamented that, unfortunately, the police takes side with the complainant and uses false witnesses to prove their stance. He also remarked that so many lives are wasted due to the production of false witnesses and added that no one is ready to tell the truth.
The judge asked the prosecution department to train police officers and highlight the shortcomings on the basis of which accused persons are being acquitted. He also said that even though district committees are formed to improve the justice system, their outcome is nothing.
Meanwhile, Justice Qazi Faez Isa remarked that the conduct of prosecution was not up to the mark as the police was hushing up cases by taking bribes. He also lamented that police itself is not ready to improve the investigation system.
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Punjab’s deputy prosecutor general opposed the acquittal and said that at least 25 years of imprisonment should be awarded to them in the case. However, the bench disagreed with him and observed that the prosecution had failed to prove its case.
Later, a senior law officer of the prosecution department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, admitted that there was total negligence on the part of the police in the investigation. He added that police officers are not ready to get guidance from the prosecution department.
This verdict also sparked a debate in legal circles and others linked with the profession who wondered over the reasons regarding the acquittal of death-row prisoners by the Supreme Court’s three-judge special bench over the past couple of months.
Many members of the legal fraternity ascribed the high acquittal rate to the application of the principle of ‘Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus’ (False in one thing, false in everything). They added that there were profound repercussions on criminal justice system because of the application of the principle.
Experts say it will discourage complainants to nominate innocent people in murder cases. They also said the number of prisoners in jails would also decrease.