March 10th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court on Tuesday acquitted a man in a murder case after spending 10 years in jail. Lawyers from the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell pleaded his appeal against conviction before the high court.
A single bench, headed by Justice Shehram Sarwar, overturned the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to Liaqat Masih and Khalida Parveen by a local court in 2015. The high court ordered their release, citing insufficient evidence. The court had convicted Liaqat Masih and Khalida Parveen for murdering Munawar Begum in Okara in August 2011. According to the prosecution, both had abducted and murdered the woman, dumping the dead body in a canal. Liaqat Masih was serving his sentence in Sahiwal jail. The prison authorities forwarded Liaqat Masih’s case to the cell’s visiting team of lawyers.
In his appeal, Liaqat Masih’s counsel Qamar Hanif Ramay from the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell stated that the lower court judgment was based on corroborative evidence. However, the trial court had failed to notice that his client was nominated in the case after 15 days of the murder.
Ramay said the police claimed that Liaqat Masih had made a confessional statement to them which was inadmissible under the law. Police had also failed to establish that the dead body was of the slain woman, he added. The council said the confession was made under duress, adding that the trial court had wrongly convicted Liaqat Masih on insufficient evidence. After the conclusion of the arguments, the court voided the sentences and acquitted both the suspects. Ramay told Voicepk.net that Liaqat Masih will be released from Sahiwal jail upon completion of court procedure in a week’s time. He said women and members of minority communities were the most vulnerable inmates across the country and many of them failed to find proper legal counseling due to lack of resources. In 2020, the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell provided free legal aid to over 1800 individuals including destitute convicts.