March 9th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court on Tuesday overturned the murder conviction of a woman on death row for the last four years, citing insufficient evidence. The Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell pleaded her appeal as part of the free legal aid for destitute women convicts.
In 2017, a local court in Faisalabad had sentenced Anwar Bibi to death, for the murder of her husband in May 2014. The Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell took up her case when she approached their legal aid team during a visit to Faisalabad jail where she was imprisoned for the last seven years. Sultan Nazeer, her counsel from Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, pleaded that the eyewitnesses in the case made contradictory statements about their presence at the crime scene.
According to the police case, the witnesses were sleeping in a farm next to the house where the murder took place. The counsel pointed out that the map of the area showed no open fields or farms around the house. He said the complainant in the case, the brother of the victim, had implicated her in the case to deprive her of the inheritance share of her husband’s property.
After hearing detailed arguments of the parties, the division bench, comprising Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan and Justice Shehram Sarwar, acquitted the convict after setting aside her death sentence while allowing her appeal. Sultan Nazeer told Voicepk.net that Anwar Bibi will be freed from Faisalabad jail after completion of legal formalities in the coming days.
According to Nida Aly, Executive Director of Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, her organization has provided free legal aid to over 1,800 individuals in just 2020, the majority of whom were women and children.