KARACHI: A special bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) will start fresh hearings on the appeals filed by Shahrukh Jatoi and the co-accused in the Shahzeb Khan murder case from Monday, February 19.
Court officials told The Express Tribune that the high court had received records of proceedings of the case from the district and sessions court concerned where the case was transferred from the anti-terrorism court.
Earlier this week, SHC Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh constituted a special anti-terrorism appellate bench, comprising justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Nazar Akbar, to hear appeals of the accused afresh.
The new bench was constituted after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the fresh trial of the case under the Anti-Terrorism Act on a petition filed by civil society activists.
The rights groups had appealed against the judgment passed by a two-judge SHC bench, headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar, which had allowed appeals filed by Jatoi and his friend Nawab Siraj Talpur against the death sentences awarded to them by an ATC that had found them guilty of murdering 20-year-old student Shahzeb, son of DSP Aurangzeb Khan, on December 25, 2012 near his house in the upscale Defence neighbourhood of Karachi.
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It had also allowed appeals of the co-accused, Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, against the life imprisonments awarded to them.
Then chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had taken suo motu notice of the incident that sparked massive protests across the country.
It had also triggered widespread debate over whether the country's elite could be held accountable for crimes they committed since the prime accused belonged to a powerful feudal family.
The high court's bench had ruled that the murder does not fall within the ambits of the anti-terror law, thus it had remanded the case back to the sessions court for a fresh trial. Following the ruling, Jatoi and the others were released from jail on bail.
However, human rights activists had moved the SC for leave to appeal against the SHC's ruling, arguing that the incident created a sense of terror and panic among society, thus it rightly fell within the ambits of the anti-terror law.
The apex court's bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, had granted leave to appeal, ordering the arrest of all the accused and issued their arrest warrants for production before the court. The apex court also ordered the SHC CJ to constitute a new bench to hear the case.