Unpardonable crimes

When families of two murder victims pardoned their influential killers, it naturally provoked public outrage

Editorial November 19, 2015

When families of two murder victims, Shahzaib Khan and Zain Rauf, reportedly pardoned their influential killers, in all likelihood under duress, it naturally provoked public outrage. The incidents made headlines because of the powerful figures involved in the ghastly crimes. Many thought the murderers walked free because of loopholes in the law, a possibility we cannot ignore. Taking notice of the public reaction, especially on social media, the government has decided to make some amendments to the relevant laws. Specifically, it has proposed amendments to four key provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) of 1860 that could address the longstanding issue of murderers pardoned by the heirs of victims under the Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (blood money) law.

Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the special assistant to the prime minister on legal affairs, has said that the Qisas and Diyat law is a key component of the government’s legal reforms agenda, and that the proposed tweak in the piece of legislation, upon being passed, would require murderers to beg pardon after getting themselves convicted under Section 302(a) of the PPC. The proposed draft stipulates amendments to Sections 309 and 310, where legal heirs of the victim have the right to make a compromise with the offenders. Now, if the amendment is cleared by parliament, “the court shall, having regard to the facts and circumstances of the case, punish an offender against whom the right of Qisas has been waived or compounded with imprisonment, which may extend to 14 years but shall not be less than seven years as Tazir”. Without getting into the legal nitty-gritty, we believe that any change to the law that serves the interest of the marginalised sections of society is a welcome move. Our history is replete with instances where weaker victims had been at the receiving end of injustice because the powerful and the mighty had been able to misuse the law to their advantage. More importantly, safeguards should be built into legislation so that offenders do not find any loopholes in it to get away with their crime scot-free.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2015.

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Amanzim | 6 years ago | Reply Any law that favours rich against poor needs improvement. Murders should be punished irrespective of their power to get away with money. On the other hand I am against capital punishment. Is it not better that instead of qisas the killers are placed in prisons, compelled to work and utilised for the benefit of the society. In this way, not only would the society remain protected from their evils but simultaneously, they could be utilized to the maximum extent possible?
John B | 6 years ago | Reply Either PAK should go by sharia dictates or by English common law practices. The amendment technically gives the courts to compound the punishment but still keeps the sharia component and left the implementation to the courts. The laws cannot be left to the subjective opinion of the judges especially in murder. The amendment looks like an appeasement rather than rectification.
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