LHC for action against ATC judge: Mukhtar Mai case -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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LHC for action against ATC judge: Mukhtar Mai case

MULTAN, March 9,2005: Delay in registration of the FIR, contradictions in the statements given by the complainant on various forums at the investigation stage and inconsistency in the statements of main prosecution witnesses have been cited by a division bench of the Lahore High Court in its detailed order as reasons behind its conclusion in the Meerwala (Mukhtar Mai) gang rape case that ‘the prosecution miserably failed to prove the accused guilty’.

The LHC Multan bench had acquitted through a short order five of the six convicts in the case on March 4 while deciding appeals against the judgment of the Dera Ghazi Khan anti-terrorism court.

The ATC had handed down death to six accused in the allegedly panchayat-enforced Meerwala gang rape case on Aug 31, 2002. In its concluding remarks, the bench observed: “We felt it strange that how the learned trial court in spite of not an iota of evidence on record had convicted and sentenced appellants Ramzan Pachar and Faiz Muhammad (the jurors)’.”

The judgment has been written by Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhary for the bench comprising himself and Justice MA Shahid Siddiqui. It said: “Action should be initiated (by the competent authority) against the learned trial judge, if it deems fit as they (the appellants) were bound to suffer the agony by remaining in the death cell of the jail for a long period.”

About the role of panchayat, the bench remarked that ‘the statement of the complainant regarding convening of panchayat and the decisions taken therein was all based on hearsay and thus was inadmissible in evidence.

The prosecution also failed to lead any independent evidence that the members of the panchayat had taken the decision that rape should be committed with the complainant’.

About the involvement of two brothers (Abdul Khaliq and Allah Ditta) in the gang rape, the bench said: “Zina by two real brothers in the same house along with two others with a woman is not a plausible story, which cannot be accepted without any independent corroborative piece of evidence having unimpeachable character, which is lacking in the present case.”
Source: Dawn