SHC admits appeal against 18 acquitted police officers
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday admitted a criminal appeal against 18 high ranking police officers acquitted in the Murtaza Bhutto and his companions’ assassination case and issued notices to them for appearing in the court.
A division bench of the SHC, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmad and Justice Shahid Anwar Bajwa, was hearing a criminal appeal filed by Noor Muhammad against 18 high ranking police officers (at that time), including Shoaib Suddle, Wajid Durani, Shahid Hayat, Rai Tahir and Masood Sharif.
The court also admitted another similar appeal filed by Shahid Hayat (the then ASP Saddar) against 11 companions of Murtaza, including Dr Mazhar Memon, Mahmood Bhalai, Akhtar Ali Meerani, Asif Jatoi and Asghar Ali.
Noor’s counsel Umer Sial advocate stated that trial court had said in his given judgement that Murtaza and his companions were killed during crossfire and the police had opened fire in their self-defence. He said it was an amazing point that not a single police officer or any other witness has yet recorded the statement under section 342 Cr PC and has not pointed out self-defence situation.
Even if the point of self-defence was allowed, the court has to see whether the reaction of the police was in proportion to the threat.
Sial also gave a reference about an inquiry tribunal set by the government under the chairmanship of then Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid. He said that the killing of Murtaza was an extra-judicial and that it should not have taken place without the approval of the highest federal/provincial authorities.
The judge had unlawfully taken into account a reinvestigation report conducted by the police to support the acquittals and had completely ignored a Tribunal report and not allowed it to be admitted as evidence, Sial added.
The court also offered to counsel of other appellant Hayat to give his arguments in the support of his appeal.
It is pertinent to mention here that Murtaza along with his seven companions was assassinated in an alleged police encounter near 70 Clifton on Sept 20, 1996. The then SHO PS Clifton Haq Nawaz Sial had filed an FIR in the case in the same night against the companions of Murtaza.
Subsequently, another FIR was also lodged by Noor Mohammad, an aide of Murtaza against Shoaib Suddle, Wajid Durrani, Shahid Hayat, Rai Tahir, Masood Sharif and others.
After the passage of 14 years, Additional District and Session Judge-I Karachi (East) Aftab Ahmed announced judgements on Dec 4 and 5, 2009, acquitting all the accused in the two cases.
The appeals were pending before the SHC since 15 months without hearing, however, the court heard them Thursday. The bench asked appellants’ advocate Sial to tell it the grounds on which he challenged the judgement.
Source: Daily Times