LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) issued its detailed judgment in the acquittal of Shah Hussain, who had been convicted for stabbing Khadija Siddiqui, asserting that the prosecution had failed to establish its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem authored the verdict, observing that “Shah Hussain is given benefit of doubt and acquitted of the charges”.
In July last year, a judicial magistrate had awarded Shah Hussain seven years rigorous imprisonment under Section 324 (attempted murder) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), two years imprisonment under Section 337A (i) (causing injuries), another five-year term under Section 337A (ii), one-year prison term under Section 337F (i), a three-year term under Section 337F (ii), and five years in prison under Section 337F (iv).
However, a sessions court had reduced his sentence in March this year while setting aside some penalties.
In the detailed judgment on criminal revision petition moved by Shah Hussain, Justice Naeem said that the attack had occurred on a thoroughfare in broad daylight, but the prosecution had not been able to bring forward any independent witness. During cross-examination, the injured girl admitted that Shah Hussain was among her friends with whom she had been photographed with inside or outside the college.
Khadija stabbing case: CJP takes notice of attacker's acquittal by LHC
Dismissing the suggestion that it was a ‘high-profile’ case, the verdict denied the existence of any external pressure. However, it acknowledged that Tehmina Durrani, the wife of PML-N President and former Punjab chief minister Shehbaz Sharif had used her clout at a later stage.
Blaming the prosecution for not establish its case and citing several contradictions, the judgment stated that the decision was announced on the basis of facts.
The judge said Khadija Siddiqi, the victim, and the injured eyewitness, had not described the true version of events and that the attack might have happened, but not as described by the witnesses.
Meanwhile, the judgment noted that Khadija claimed she was not conscious after the incident to justify her delay in reporting the case. The verdict ruled that the prosecution failed to prove this assertion.
During cross-examination, the medical officer admitted that she asked several questions to establish the injured victim’s orientation and she answered correctly. Meanwhile, the injured girl had deposed that the victim had told her that a boy had attacked her with a knife around 2pm that day.
According to the medical officer, the victim had 11 injuries on her person and the same had been described in the medical report, but during the trial, she said that she had sustained 23 injuries.
“The injured, being unconscious, could not nominate the petitioner (Shah Hussain). They knew each other. There was no question of mistaken identity. When the injured girl regained her senses on May 8, 2016, she nominated the petitioner. But this is falsified by the medical officer as she stated that the injured girl had told her that a boy had attacked her. She was shifted straight to the Services Hospital from the place of incident. But this fact is belied by her medical certificate which reflects that both of the injured were medically examined on the order of a magistrate under Section 30 in Lahore Cantt before the registration of FIR,” the judge held.
The judge also questioned the authenticity of the weapon used by the attacker (a knife), stating that it was secured five months after the attack.
Noting several discrepancies in statements of the witnesses, the judge wondered why the weapon had no blood stains on it when it was recovered.
He also wondered why Khadija had deposed that Hussain used to harass her when she had personally written a four-page-long letter, asking him to marry her.
The judge ruled that her testimony was unbelievable, adding that the motive established by the prosecution crumbled to the ground.
“It is not a universal rule that each and every word (uttered by an) injured person is the truth.”
Citing other reasons, the judge ruled the case might have been spoilt by the investigating officer, who failed to secure evidence such as the victim’s bloodstained clothes and car mats which might have had bloodstains on them.
Social media ruckus
In a press release issued on Thursday evening, the LHC’s registrar said that this campaign had not targeted an “honourable judge in isolation, rather it is part of a campaign … sponsored to malign the judiciary as a whole”.
“All the speculation is strongly rebutted and condemned and the institution (the LHC) reserves the right to initiate legal proceedings against the delinquent,” it adds, while “directing” electronic media air apologies in prime time, and print media to publish apologies front pages of newspapers within three days. In case of failure, they will be proceeded against strictly in accordance with law, it says.
PEMRA and Press Council of Pakistan have been directed to submit their respective compliance reports with regard to the apologies.