KARACHI: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court will take up tomorrow appeals challenging the Sindh High Court’s November 28 verdict that set aside the sentences awarded to Shahrukh Jatoi and other accused in Shahzeb Khan murder case.
Headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a bench will hear the appeals assailing the verdict that led to the release of Jatoi and other convicts on bail.
The appellants stated that the Sindh High Court erred while overturning an anti-terrorism court’s guilty verdict and ordering retrial of the suspects by an ordinary court.
Since the murder had triggered fear and panic among the people, it fell under the anti-terrorism law, they said while pleading with the court to declare the high court’s judgment null and void.
On December 23, Shahrukh Jatoi and other accused were released after a local court granted them bail when the father of the deceased filed an affidavit in support of their bail applications.
Aurangzeb Khan, the victim’s father, submitted an affidavit in the court, confirming that he and members of his family had pardoned the suspects without any pressure or duress in the name of Allah. He added that an out-of-court settlement was reached with the suspects back in 2013.
Twenty-year-old Shahzeb Khan, son of a DSP, was gunned down on the night of December 24, 2012 in Karachi’s Defence Housing Society.
The incident had sparked widespread outrage across the country and attracted much media attention, prompting the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of the murder.
Jatoi, and his friend Siraj Talpur were sentenced to death while his younger brother Sajjad Talpur and their cook Ghulam Murtaza Lashari were awarded life in prison by an anti-terrorism court.
Subsequently, the convicts challenged their sentences in the high court, requesting it to set the sentences aside.
Jatoi, the key suspect, challenged his sentence on the ground that he was a juvenile at the time of committing the crime, therefore, he could not be tried under the anti-terrorism law.
The appellants argued that the crime didn’t come within the ambit of the anti-terrorism law, thus, they should have been tried by an ordinary court instead of an anti-terrorism court.
The SHC appellate bench overturned their sentences and sent the case back to a sessions court to conduct the trial of the suspects afresh.
The bench directed the sessions court to determine whether the murder comes within the ambit of the anti-terrorism law.
It should be noted that since the family of the deceased had reached an out-of-court settlement with the convicts and pardoned them, the point whether the crime comes in the jurisdiction of the terrorism law needed a rethink.
The judges observed that the sentences were awarded by the trial court without fulfilling the legal requirements.