RAWALPINDI, Nov 30: The Punjab prosecution department has challenged in Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench the deletion of terrorism charge against a brother of former deputy speaker National Assembly Haji Nawaz Khokhar and 28 other people charged with murdering a woman over a land dispute.
A judge of Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on November 26 deleted section 7 of the ATA 1997 against Imtiaz Khokhar alias Taji Khokhar and others and referred the murder case of Sabra Bibi to the sessions judge of Rawalpindi.
Ms Sabra was killed on August 17 while she was in police protection at the disputed land at Dhoke Gangal near Islamabad Highway. At the time of her murder, a commission appointed by a civil court was also present on the spot.
The police nominated Taji Khokhar, his three sons and others in the case.
The murder case was initially heard in the sessions court but later the Punjab prosecution department inserted section 7 of the ATA in the challan after which the case was sent to the ATC judge, Rana Masood Akhtar.
The judge observed that the accused persons allegedly murdered the woman over a simple land dispute when the commission and police officials were also presented there. He added that the accused did not restrain either the commission or the police officials from discharging their duty. The police personnel fled from the scene after the incident.
The judge held that the anti-terrorism court “lacks jurisdiction in the case, hence, the file of this case is placed before learned sessions judge, Rawalpindi, for its onward entrustment to the court of competent jurisdiction.”
Challenging the judgment, the prosecution contended that the woman had arrived at the disputed land on the order of a court which had appointed the commission for an inquiry into the dispute with the accused persons.
It said after the investigation of the matter, section 302 of Pakistan Panel Code and 7 ATA were added to the challan.
The prosecution alleged that the ATC judge had overlooked the fact that the woman’s murder thwarted the judicial proceeding of a civil court.
It said the woman was under threat to stop litigation against the accused persons and had been warned of dire consequences.
She was provided policemen for protection but the accused killed her in the presence of the police. This amounted to restraining the policemen from discharging their lawful duty.
“The order of ATC judge is the outcome of misconception of the word ‘terrorism’ and thus requires true interpretation and application in the light of the spirit of the law contained in ATA 1997.”
The prosecution requested the LHC to set aside the deletion of the terrorism-related offences from the challan and the matter be sent to the ATC for further proceedings.