Justice delayed: Woman, co-accused acquitted after 15 years in jail

SC declares prosecution failed to prove charges against petitioners in murder case

Hasnaat Malik May 19, 2024
The court noted that the prosecution miserably failed to prove the charge against both petitioners beyond a reasonable doubt. PHOTO: FILE


The apex court has acquitted a woman who was convicted by a trial court for murdering her husband with the help of her alleged lover after 14 years of imprisonment.

The court noted that the prosecution miserably failed to prove the charge against both petitioners beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The conviction and sentence awarded to both petitioners by the trial court as well as by the Appellate Court (Lahore High Court) is a result of misreading and misappreciation of the evidence available on the record," said the detailed judgment authored by Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

Okara’s additional session judge on November 19, 2011, sentenced Saima Noreen and Muhammad Shafique to death for strangulating Muhammad Akmal, Noreen’s husband.

The court issued this order while hearing a case registered on November 15, 2010, by Muhammad Arshad, a brother of Muhammad Akmal.

Noreen and Shafique challenged the trial court verdict in the LHC, which on December 2, 2015, upheld the conviction but converted the death sentence to life imprisonment.

The convicts later, in 2016, moved the Supreme Court, whose three-member bench led by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi heard their appeals.

According to the 8-page written order, the death of Muhammad Akmal by strangulation was unwitnessed. It also said that the conduct of the investigating officer was not fair and impartial.

Also read: Justice delayed is justice denied

The court noted that the deceased's brother, with the connivance of the investigating officer, “fabricated evidence” to falsely implicate the petitioners by planting himself and two others as eyewitnesses.

"The statements of PW-3 [prosecution witness-3], PW-4, PW-7, and PW-8 reveal material contradictions and discrepancies which have shaken the veracity of their testimony.

“According to the settled principles, material contradictions in evidence in a criminal case create doubt in the case of the prosecution and lead to a reasonable possibility of the witnesses being not truthful."

The court noted that PW-3 claimed that they were woken up by the voice of the victim’s elder daughter Aisha—then aged 8/9 years—who said that her father was being beaten up.

The witnesses claimed that they rushed to the door of the victim’s room, which was ajar.

"The elder daughter Aisha was mature enough to testify for supporting/corroborating the version of PW-3 and PW-4, but the investigating officer did not record her statement, and she was also not produced at the trial by the prosecution.

"Surprisingly, PW-3, PW-4, and Muhammad Ashraf, claiming to be the eyewitnesses of the occurrence, did not take the dead body of deceased Muhammad Akmal to the hospital immediately after the occurrence,” the verdict added.

As per evidence available on record, it said, the dead body of Akmal was taken to the hospital by Muhammad Arif, Head Constable (PW-7).

According to the statement of PW-7, he shifted the dead body to the hospital around 06:30 am on November 15, 2010, and at that time the investigating officer (PW-8) was also accompanying him.

“The PW-7 has not mentioned the presence of PW-3, PW-4, and Muhammad Ashraf or their accompanying him to the hospital with the dead body,” the order added.


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