PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has dismissed an appeal against the acquittal of 13 accused in a rape case and upheld anti-terrorism court orders on Wednesday.
Uzma Ayub was allegedly abducted and sexually assaulted five years ago in Karak district. She had challenged ATC judge Syed Asghar Ali Shah’s acquittal verdict with the high court. Initially Gul Marjan, Sardar Ali, Nazar Khan and Karim were charged but later nine others were also named in the case.
Justice Nisar Hussain Khan and Justice Roohul Amin Khan dismissed Ayub’s petition on Wednesday. During the course of hearing, her counsel Suriyya Jabeen informed the court Ayub was abducted from her house. Her family had approached the district court for the registration of an FIR on September 25, 2010.
Soon the high court took a suo motu notice following which the Karak police arrested the accused men. “It was a sessions court case but the trial was conducted by a special court,” said Jabeen.
She told the court the convicted murderer of Ayub’s brother is also a brother of one of the principal accused in the instant case. Jabeen requested the court to accept the petition and revoke the acquittal orders.
During his arguments, counsel for the accused Shahid Qayyum Khattak said the versions given by prosecution witnesses about the date the rape occurred were contradictory. “The application for the registration of FIR was filed one month after Ayub’s brother Alam Zeb was released on bail in a theft case,” he said.
He said witness Rab Nawaz’s statement reveals Ayub came to his PCO shop to make a telephone call and later left in a rickshaw, accompanied by a boy. “On the other hand, Ayub maintains while being transported to another district, she managed to escape near a bus stand in Bannu.” He alleged the family did not discuss the abduction with their counsel until Zeb was released on bail.
Additional Advocate General Rab Nawaz Khan also opposed the acquittal of the accused. He said the abduction was proved while the prosecution also proved its case during previous trials.
After hearing the detailed arguments, the court dismissed the petition against the acquittal of the accused.
In broad daylight
Zeb was gunned down on December 9, 2011 in Karak while he was accompanying Ayub to attend a hearing of the rape case. On November 11, 2013, ATC judge Anwer Hussain handed life sentences to Ibrahim Shah, Rahat Shah and Wahid Ahmad in Zeb’s murder and acquitted ASI Hakim Shah and Javed Shah.
On August 5, 2014, a two-member bench comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali ordered the acquittal of the three convicts and upheld the acquittal of Hakim and Javed.
During the rape case proceedings, ATC judge Syed Asghar had acquitted all 13 suspects on February 1, 2013. The orders were issued after the charges against the accused that included an SHO, an SI and an ASI, could not be proved.
According to the FIR registered by Ayub’s mother, Bilqisam Jana, at Takht-e-Nusrati police station in Karak (and Ayub’s own testimony in front of the PHC on October 13, 2011), 13 men had allegedly abducted her, kept her in custody for 11 months and repeatedly raped her. She was pregnant when she returned home in September 2011 and soon gave birth to a daughter, Zeba, who she maintained was fathered by one of the 13 accused.
In addition to Uzma’s inconclusive polygraph test, DNA tests were also conducted to determine the parentage of the child.
The tests revealed Uzma was Zeba’s mother, however, cleared all the 13 men.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2015.
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