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Magistrate’s ‘negligence’: SC releases murder suspect imprisoned since 2009

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday acquitted a murder suspect – convicted by the Lahore High Court (LHC) – almost a decade after his imprisonment.

A three-member apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa remarked that prosecution couldn’t come up with concrete proofs against suspect, Asfandyar, hence the court was acquitting him.

The SC bench stated that “Why are the [suspects] treated like this? A child was killed and the suspect was convicted due to the magistrate’s failure to hold proper identity parade and follow legal procedure.”

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in 2009 had found Asfandyar guilty of murdering Adil Butt, a student. According to the prosecution, Asfandyar had kidnapped Butt for ransom and killed him after the victim’s family failed to pay the money. The case was later heard by the LHC that overturned the ATC’s verdict and sentenced him to life.

Also read: SC acquits man for killing his barber with scissors

Justice Khosa said those who were supposed to dispense justice should also held answerable. Chief justice remarked that he was disappointed to see such a case.

“Doesn’t magistrate go through training before they are hired,” asked the chief justice.

The prosecution lawyer said magistrates were taught courses before their appointments. “We cannot give a verdict by distracting from judicial law,” the CJP responded.

He questioned why the high court and trial court didn’t consider legal provisions. “This country is ours and our children have to abode in here.”

“How the law would take its course if we turn a blind eye to such issues”, Justice Khosa said.

He said it seemed as if the suspect was arrested and then witness statements were ‘created’. The chief justice further inquired that how police actually reached the suspect.

“The police had arrested the suspect on a tip-off by an informer,” responded the lawyer.

Continuing his cross-examination, the CJP cited a statement by one eye-witness in which he claimed to have seen four people throwing away a dead body in river, while another witness said he saw two people dumping the body in river.

Magistrate summoned

Taking notice of an alleged negligence on part of the magistrate, the court ordered the magistrate Kanwar Anwar Ali to appear in person on Feb 22.

The court directed registrar Lahore High Court to find out the magistrate and produce him before the court.

The court issued these directives on an appeal filed by a citizen challenging magistrate’s order that had sent the suspect behind the bars.

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