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KARACHI: Federal and provincial authorities may have a tough time in the Supreme Court on Saturday when a three-judge bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar would take up seven suo motu cases of public interest litigation.

The chief justice who arrived here late on Friday afternoon had recently taken a series of suo motu notices on the matters pertaining to private medical colleges in the province, movement of VVIP, provincial government-run hospitals in Karachi, processing and packing of packed milk, provision of safe drinking water in the province and environmental pollution.

Besides, the bench that also comprises Justices Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah would also hear the petition of civil rights campaigners against the Sindh High Court’s judgement that set aside sentences awarded to Shahrukh Jatoi, one of the main accused persons, and others in the Shahzeb Khan murder case, ordering the retrial by a district and sessions court.

Represented by Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, a group of civil society members — Muhammad Jibran Nasir, Jamshed Raza Mahmood, Afiya Shehrbano Zia, Naeem Sadiq, Nazim Fida Hussain Haji, Karamat Ali, Zulfiqar Shah, Aquila Ismail, Fahim Zaman Khan and Naziha Syed Ali — filed an application for leave to appeal against the SHC’s verdict that set aside the capital punishments of Shahrukh Jatoi and Nawab Siraj Talpur.

The SHC had in November set aside the sentences awarded to the accused by an antiterrorism court and ordered a retrial of the case in a sessions court on a criminal review petition filed by Jatoi’s lawyer, who argued that terrorism charges should be dropped as the prime suspect was a juvenile at the time of the crime.

Shahrukh Jatoi, son of Sikandar Jatoi, and his friend Nawab Siraj Ali Talpur were on June 7, 2013 sentenced to death and two other co-accused got life imprisonment for killing 20-year-old Shahzeb, son of DSP Aurangzeb Khan, on Dec 25, 2012 near his home in the Defence Housing Authority after the victim student had an altercation with the accused persons as they tried to tease his sister.

The civil rights campaigners submitted in their application that the unfortunate and gruesome murder of the university student resulted in striking terror and created fear, panic, sensation, helplessness and insecurity in the people residing in the DHA and Clifton vicinity and the public in general in Karachi and Pakistan.

The applicants said: “Hundreds of people had come out on the streets demanding justice for the deceased on the ground that the same could happen to their children also. This is because such unfortunate incidents are prevalent in our society.”

They said that the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had also dismissed the accused persons’ plea seeking transfer of the case to the sessions court in March 2013. The SHC had upheld the ATC order on the case transfer plea and ruled: “We, therefore, hold that act of accused Shah Rukh Jatoi created sense of helplessness and insecurity amongst the people of the vicinity and did destabilise the public at large.”

The applicants said that as such, provisions of Section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 are fully attracted in this case. Therefore, the present case would fall within the jurisdiction of Anti-Terrorism Court.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018