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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday overruled the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) order of acquitting a murder suspect and handed him life sentence for killing a teenage boy. The court ordered the suspect’s immediate arrest.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa took up the appeal of one Mohammad Ali who challenged the PHC’s decision of acquitting Hazrat Ali who was awarded life sentence by the trial court for killing a 17-year boy.

The PHC in January last year had overturned the Nov 25, 2014 verdict of Additional Sessions Judge Izafi Zilla Qazi, Swat, of awarding life sentence to Hazrat Ali with a direction to set him free immediately.

Hazrat Ali was accused of killing Anwar Ali, brother of Mohammad Ali, with a 30-bore pistol in the Saidu Sharif Hospital (Swat). He was arrested on Feb 2, 2013.

CJP regrets that witnesses usually pay no regard to their oaths while testifying

In its order, the PHC had held that no incriminating evidence came to light that warranted conviction and the award of capital punishment to Hazrat Ali, rather the case of the prosecution was replete with sufficient doubts and contradictions, warranting acquittal of the appellant.

During the hearing on Thursday, the CJP regretted that witnesses usually paid no regard to their oath while deposing testimonies, adding that it created hurdles for courts in ascertaining the truth.

In other countries, people spoke the truth, but here hurdles were created for courts, he said.

Citing a case, he said four people from a village said that an incident took place in broad daylight while four other people from the village claimed that the same incident took place at night.

While hearing the review petition against the acquittal of Christian woman Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case recently, the CJP had questioned that what image of Islam people were trying to portray by deposing false evidence under oath. He said Islam had taught Muslims to always speak truth even if it was going against their parents.

CJP Khosa had also asked for some introspection to ascertain how cases were developed. He said high expectations were set in cases in which even testimonies of different witnesses did not corroborate with each other on the same incident.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2019