SC admits Shahzeb murder case plea for hearing

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday suspended the pardon proceedings for Shahrukh Jatoi and other co-accused in Shahzeb Khan’s murder case pending before the sessions court and directed the Ministry of Interior to place the names of all the respondents on the Exit Control List (ECL).

The court also issued bailable warrants for Shahrukh Jatoi and the other co-accused and directed the SSP concerned to ensure their appearance before the court on January 29.

The direction came on a petition of rights activists who challenged the decision of Sindh High Court that set aside the death sentence of Shahrukh Jatoi and the other co-accused in Shahzeb Khan’s gruesome murder following eve-teasing on Dec 24, 2012, under the anti terrorism law.

Aggrieved with the SHC’s judgment, the right activists had filed appeal in Supreme Court contending that the gruesome murder of Shahzeb Khan resulted in striking terror and created fear, panic, sensation, helplessness and insecurity amongst the people residing in that vicinity and the public in general.

Petitioner counsel Faisal Siddiqui submitted that the SHC in its impugned judgment had clearly erred in placing reliance on the Waris Ali judgment which was not relevant in the instant case.

He submitted that the SHC judgment that set aside the conviction of Shahrukh Jatoi and three others under anti terrorism law and remanded the case back to the Sessions court for re-retrial was illegal. On the locus standi of the petitioner to file the petition, the counsel said that the court has the discretion under Article 185(3) to decide such issue.

He said the state has unfortunately colluded with the accused and did not defend the terrorism charges.

Respondent's counsel Sardar Abdul Latif Khosa and Dr. Babar Awan submitted that the case is not an act of terrorism and the petitioners have no locus standi to file petition against the SHC judgment.

They submitted that the evidence of the case does not speak of creating fear or panic and if the petition was allowed then relevant sections of the penal code shall be affected and a Pandora box will open in the criminal cases.

The Supreme Court's three member bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar granted leave to appeal in the case by framing questions with regard to legality of the SHC’s impugned judgment.

The Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said the court will examine as whether the evidence speaks of the incident creating fear, panic and terrorism and if the respondents were protected under the provision of Article 4 and 10-A of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court, the CJP said would also frame question as whether the case of locus standi set out in the petitions is absolutely illusionary and without any basis and if in such cases the right to file such petitions is granted to the public at large, this might open Pandora’s box.