ISLAMABAD: The counsel for television celebrity Atiqa Odho, who is facing the allegation of carrying liquor, told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that no trial court was willing to deal with her case on merit because of the fear that it was registered at the behest of the apex court.

“All the trial courts rejected her application for acquittal on the ground that the trial is not yet finished and the matter will be decided after closing of evidence of the accused in defence,” Barrister Syed Ali Zafar argued before a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, which had taken up Ms Odho’s application seeking directives for the trial court to decide her case on merit.

Ms Odho herself was present in the court.

In June 2011, then chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had taken suo motu notice of Ms Odho’s release despite recovery of two bottles of wine from her luggage. She was barred from boarding a Karachi-bound flight from Islamabad after the Airport Security Force allegedly seized the liquor. However, the ASF let her go, on the intervention of some ‘influential figures’.

Then the apex court had ordered the department concerned to submit a report regarding Ms Odho’s release without registering an FIR, with an observation that her release was an act of discrimination.

On Tuesday, Ali Zafar recalled that two cases taken in the public interest under Article 184(3) of the Constitution had then gained prominence – one related to his client and the other about sugar price hike.

He argued that Ms Odho had been implicated in a false case as a result of the suo motu action that too was based on news reports.

He said that during the suo motu proceedings directives had been issued to the authorities concerned to register an FIR against Ms Odho for allegedly carrying the liquor.

Mr Zafar argued that the case against his client was false and frivolous and after the prosecution concluded its evidence which was obvious that no case had been made out against her. So far, he said, the statements of eight witnesses had been recorded in the case.

“Accordingly, she is entitled to acquittal under the provisions of Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code,” the counsel said, adding that the trial court should have disposed of her application on merit, instead of postponing the decision on technical grounds.

The counsel requested the apex court to remand the case to the trial court for a decision on it in accordance with the law.

After hearing the arguments of the counsel, the Supreme Court issued notices to the state and directed the trial court not to pass any order till a decision on the case.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2017

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