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Another death-row convict acquitted after 11 years in jail

ISLAMABAD: The Sup­reme Court stepped in on Friday to correct the mistakes committed by the trial court and the high court, and acquitted a convict after 11 years of imprisonment. A district and sessions judge in Mandi Bahauddin had sentenced Mohammad Anar to death on a murder charge in 2005, but the Lahore High Court later converted the capital punishment into life imprisonment.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa ordered immediate release of Mohammad Anar for want of solid prosecution and owing to contradictory evidence against him.

On Nov 25, the same bench had ordered the release of a death-row convict after 24 years by granting the benefit of the doubt in a stark reminder of the fact that the country’s judicial system badly needs reform. Mazhar Farooq, who was accused of killing a 22-year-old graduation student in 1992, had been sentenced to death by a trial court — a conviction upheld by the LHC in 2009.

In October this year, the apex court acquitted two brothers Ghulam Sarwar and Ghulam Qadir — in a 2002 murder case on the basis of contradictions in the statements of an eyewitness. However, it turned out that the two brothers had already been hanged at the Bahawalpur central prison in October 2015.
SC steps in to correct mistakes of lower courts

Mohammad Anar was awarded death sentence by the additional sessions judge on Dec 23, 2005, for killing one Dost Mohammad on May 19, 2005, in Variam village of Mandi Bahauddin district. The LHC had converted the death sentence into life imprisonment on April 13, 2011.

Advocate Ghufran Khur­shid Imtiaz, who represented Anar, told Dawn that during the proceedings the apex court regretted that the high court did not find the courage to exonerate the accused.

The prosecution side was represented by Deputy Prosecutor General for Punjab Abdul Wadood.
Loopholes ignored

Advocate Imtiaz said the court was bitter about the fact that the lower courts ignored flagrant loopholes in the case and deplored that if the lower courts had to decide the matters without resorting to the case record then all the cases should be sent to the Supreme Court for trial.

According to the counsel, the SC bench also observed that even the solid cases were destroyed and weakened by including fake witnesses.

Ironically, Advocate Imtiaz said, the FIR was registered at the Qadirabad police station by Mukhtar Ahmed a cousin of Dost Mohammad “who lived at a distance of four to five acres from Anar’s house”, instead of family members of the deceased.

According to the FIR, the complainant was milking cows when he heard screams from Dost Moham­mad’s house and subsequently rushed to rescue the victim at around 5am in the morning, along with three others Shahbaz, Mohammad Jan and Mohammd Azad. But Advo­cate Imtiaz contested the claim, saying that it was very difficult to hear the shouting “from a distance of four to five acres”.

When the complainant reached the spot, the counsel said citing the FIR, he found Anar strangulating Dost Mohammad whereas the victim’s wife Kauser — who allegedly had a relationship with the accused was also standing there.

After watching the complainant, the FIR stated, the victim’s wife escaped from the crime scene, but was found dead five days after the murder of her husband.

Surprisingly, no FIR was lodged about Kauser’s murder.

Advocate Imtiaz said that although the FIR stated that before strangulation the victim was given poison, the autopsy report, done on the body of the victim after a delay of 14 hours, was silent about poisoning.

Moreover, he added, the column in the postmortem report mentioning the cause of death had also not been filled by the doctor. In addition, the high court, while hearing the appeal, had also called Sumaira a 10-year-old daughter of Dost Mohammad. She claimed that Anar also milked the buffalo of her father after killing him.

Interestingly, police did not record the witness account of the 11-year-old son and the daughter of the victim.

The Supreme Court, however, discarded the evidence Sumaira deposed before the high court, since no independent witness account was available to corroborate her statement.

According to Advocate Imtiaz, the court noted that the prosecution had also failed to provide any evidence to establish that the accused and the wife of the victim were having an affair.

After finding loopholes in the case, the apex court decided to acquit the accused of all charges, he added.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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