February 28th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking a court direction to set aside the Lahore High Court judgment which had acquitted the social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch’s brother of her murder.
Osman Khalid Butt, actor and activist, filed the petition in Islamabad through his counsels Muhammad Jawad Zafar and Barrister Khadija Siddiqi. The petition invoked the apex court’s jurisdiction relating to matters of public importance under Section 184 (3) of the Constitution.
Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhary had stated the government would challenge the high court acquittal of Muhammad Waseem in the Supreme Court. So far, the government and Qandeel’s family have not challenged 14th February LHC verdict in the Supreme Court.
According to the verdict, the decision was taken over an agreement between the parties involved and the retraction of statements recorded by the witnesses. Waseem was sentenced to life imprisonment on September 27, 2019, by a model court in Multan. He was freed from Multan prison a few days ago.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the LHC set aside the accused’s conviction based on a compromise with the victim’s family that the trial court had already rejected. The consequence of the compromise allowed the perpetrators of honour killings to avoid punishment by seeking forgiveness, a discretion that the LHC order endorsed, the petitioner said.
According to the petitioner, no one is in a position to pursue the case on behalf of the deceased and come forth to contest the injudicious acquittal of the accused which disrespects the equal application of the law and undermines the general public’s confidence, faith, and trust in the criminal justice system.
In its order, the LHC had observed that the magistrate did not follow the proper procedure to record the accused’s murder confession. However, the petitioner’s counsels argued that mere irregularities while recording of judicial confession could not render its evidentiary value to nil.
“That all the formalities pertaining to judicial confession were strictly observed by the Learned Area Magistrate and the Learned Judge-in-Chambers of the Lahore High Court, Multan Bench, Multan erroneously observed that the mandate for recording judicial confession was not followed by Learned magistrate,” reads the petition.
In the petition, the counsels stated that there was insubstantial use of the sufficient evidence available on record to incriminate the accused with the commission of the offences as averted in the crime report (the FIR).
Besides, the petitioner said, there was ample evidence, including DNA/medical evidence along with on spot recoveries, the CDR in and of themself were sufficient in the present case for the purposes of securing a conviction on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
The impugned judgment is based on misinterpretation and misapplication of law and has caused a serious miscarriage of justice, the petitioner said, asking the apex court to set aside the verdict.