ISLAMABAD: Expressing concern over the dismal state of judicial affairs, the top court has given two months to the Lahore High Court to decide the appeal against the acquittal of suspects in the Zain murder case.
A three-judge bench of the apex court on Thursday issued a four-page short order on the suo motu of the acquittal of six accused, including the son of a former state minister, after the withdrawal of witnesses statements.
The bench, headed by Justice Amir Hani Muslim, wrote it was shocked to see the mother of a slain boy compelled to give up her universal right to justice because of her own weaknesses. The judges have asked the Lahore High Court to decide – preferably within two months – the state’s appeal against the release of the suspects.
In order to understand the viewpoint of the legal heirs, the judges had called them to their chambers and heard them individually on Monday. Ghazala Rauf, the mother of Zain, told the judges she was a poor woman and after the death of her husband, she had been earning for her two daughters and the son, who was killed by the roadside on April 1.
Mustafa Kanju, along with his four guards, had allegedly opened fire on a vehicle near Cavalry Ground in Lahore, killing the teenage boy and a passerby.
Ghazala said her brothers were also from the lower-middle class and could hardly make ends meet. In this scenario, she and her daughters were scared and disturbed. One of the daughters also stated she could not sit for her examination, fearing for her safety.
Zain’s mother said neither had she forgiven the killers of her son nor she had compromised with the suspects or had been terrorised by anyone, but she had no means to fight with the killers of his son who were influential.
She told the judges it was the duty of the State to collect evidence against the culprits and prove their guilt. She added that she had accepted the loss of her son as God’s will and did not have any resource to fight with these people.
“We, in the given circumstances, are shocked to see the state of affairs where a mother of a young boy because of her weaknesses and other shortcomings is being compelled to give up her right to seek justice,” the apex court judges wrote in the short order.
“The procedure provided under our present criminal justice system is very cumbersome. We can understand the heirs of Zain have lost confidence not only in the police but also in State machinery. They feel insecure and need to be assured that justice will be done,” the order read.
The court observed the police did not investigate the case transparently. “We have failed to understand why in a case of this nature the police did not produce the prosecution witnesses before a magistrate to record their statements,” the judges wrote.
The court stated it did not intend to comment on any aspect at this point as it might influence the outcome of the pending appeal filed by the State and, therefore, it had adjourned this case with no appointed date for resumption. However, once the appeal is decided by the high court, the Punjab prosecutor general will inform the SC immediately.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 20th, 2015.