The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Shahrukh Jatoi and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari's review petitions filed last month against the cancellation of their bails in the Shahzeb Khan murder case.
On February 1, a three-judge SC bench headed by the chief justice had set aside the bail earlier granted to Jatoi and other accused by the Sindh High Court (SHC) in the case concerning their alleged involvement in the December 2012 murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan in Karachi.
The court had also restored terrorism charges against the convicts.
Jatoi and Lashari — two of the four accused in the murder case — had challenged the restoration of the anti-terrorism charges against them, while Jatoi had also appealed to the SC to review its decision of cancelling his bail and ordering his arrest.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, a member of the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, remarked during Monday's hearing that the SHC had prima facie failed to consider the apex court's earlier directives that the Shahzeb murder case fell within the ambit of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
"The 'perfect' order of the [Sindh] High Court had numerous imperfections," Justice Khosa remarked, referring to the SHC judgement in which the Shahzeb case was remanded back to a criminal court for a de novo trial and anti-terrorism charges were removed against the accused.
The chief justice, meanwhile, observed that the convicts would be acquitted if anti-terrorism charges against them are removed.
Latif Khosa, the counsel of the convicts, contended that the SC decision to restore the charges will deprive his clients of their right to a fair trial.
"The court can use Article 184(3) of the Constitution specifically for the sake of public interest," he argued, adding that if the court does not review its judgement, "The child [Jatoi] who has spent five years in the death cell will continue to do rounds of the courts all his life."
He argued that the original first information report (FIR) lodged against the convicts did not contain anti-terrorism charges, which were added later after the murder was declared an incident of "feudal terrorism".
But the court rejected the review petitions filed by Jatoi and Lashari, and directed their lawyer to present his arguments before the SHC, where the appeals against the sentences awarded to his clients by an antiterrorism court will be heard afresh.
Shahzeb Khan, the son of Aurangzeb Khan, a deputy superintendent police, was shot dead in Karachi on the night between Dec 24 and 25, 2012 when he was returning home after attending a wedding ceremony with his sister in the Country Club Apartments Karachi.
In Dec 2012, Shahrukh Jatoi had fled the country but had to be brought back on the orders of the Supreme Court. Jatoi and co-accused Siraj Talpur were sentenced to death by the antiterrorism court. Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza were handed life imprisonment for their involvement in the murder.
Subsequently, the convicts filed an appeal in the SHC which annulled antiterrorism clauses in the case and referred it back to the district and sessions court of Karachi’s South district.
The district and sessions court on Dec 23, 2017 ordered the release of Jatoi and the other accused after Shahzeb's father submitted an affidavit requesting the approval of Jatoi's bail and dropping of the case as he had pardoned his son’s killer in the name of Allah.
But the Supreme Court last month set aside the SHC verdict and revoked the bails granted to the convicts. Thus the appeals moved before the SHC against the decision of the antiterrorism court will be deemed to be still pending before the high court and the same will be decided by a different bench of the SHC within two months.