RAWALPINDI: Renowned television star Atiqa Odho is awaiting justice, almost eight years after she was allegedly found in possession of liquor at Islamabad airport.
This is the oldest case in the Rawalpindi civil courts which is pending adjudication, though there have been 174 hearings and 12 judges have been changed during the trail.
Interestingly, the Rawalpindi courts have cleared up all pending cases involving liquor recovery/liquor smuggling till 2017 while this particular case is still pending adjudication.
Since Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the then chief justice of Pakistan, had taken suo motu notice of the alleged recovery of liquor from Odho, judges were reluctant to decide it.
On June 4, 2011, Odho was stopped at Benazir International Airport when two bottles of foreign liquor were allegedly found in her bag while she was checking in for PIA’s Karachi-bound flight PK-301. The liquor was confiscated as per law and she was allowed to go.
At the time, Odho was secretary information of Pervez Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). Iftikhar Chaudhry, who was CJP back then, took suo motu notice after the electronic media had flashed the news.
He asked the police and Customs officials to clarify why no case had been registered against her. Later, Customs officials sent a lawsuit to the Airport police station, which then registered a case against her under Section 3/4 of the Prohibition Order of 1979.
Three days later, the actress acquired interim bail from the court of Rawalpindi Additional Session Judge Iqbal Chadhar. Subsequently, the court restrained the police from arresting or harassing the artist.
Later, the police recorded her statement under Section 161 of Court of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) and presented the charge sheet after 14 days due to pressure from the Supreme Court.
Later, after appearing in the case regularly for six months, the artist was then granted immunity from appearing before the court until the final verdict by Chadhar.
As of now, up to 10 witnesses have recorded their statements in this case.
Due to the absence of evidence, the artist filed applications in Magistrate Court, Civil Court, Sessions Court, High Court and as well as Supreme Court which were rejected. However, the apex court ordered adjudication of the case after conducting a fair trial in October 2018.
Furthermore, the next hearing of the case is set to be in the court of Assistant Commissioner City Naeem Afzal. A notice has been issued to summon the defence and prosecution lawyers on January 23.
Earlier, the assistant commissioner city had also requested exemption from appearance in the case which was rejected by the district and sessions judge Rawalpindi.
Senior criminal lawyer Masoodul Hasan Bukhari Advocate said that Section ¾ only implies that the suspect be fined Rs1,000 to Rs2,000 or imprisonment of 10 to 20 days or both.
He added that it is the prerogative of court or judge to acquit a suspect for lack of evidence.
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