ATC rejects plea to transfer KESC MD murder case to sessions court

Updated September 15, 2019

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Sept 25 fixed for recording evidence of investigating officer Mohammad Sarwar Khan, alias Sarwar Commando. — AFP/File
Sept 25 fixed for recording evidence of investigating officer Mohammad Sarwar Khan, alias Sarwar Commando. — AFP/File

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court dismissed on Saturday an application seeking transfer of a case pertaining to the murder of managing director of the Karachi Electric Supply Corporation Shahid Hamid to a sessions court for trial of two detained accused.

Mohammad Minhaj Qazi, alias Asad, and Mehboob Ghufran, alias Atar, with their alleged accomplices have been charged with killing the then KESC MD, his driver and a guard in the Defence Housing Authority on July 5, 1997.

On Saturday, the ATC-III judge pronounced his verdict reserved earlier on the plea moved by detained accused Minhaj Qazi after hearing arguments from the parties.

Sept 25 fixed for recording evidence of investigating officer Mohammad Sarwar Khan, alias Sarwar Commando

The judge fixed the matter on Sept 25 for recording evidence of the investigating officer of the case Mohammad Sarwar Khan, alias Sarwar Commando, and adjourned hearing.

Last month, Minhaj had moved two pleas seeking removal of the charge of terrorism from the case and its transfer to a sessions’ court from the ATC for further trial.

In the first plea filed under Section 227 of the Criminal Procedure Code, defence counsel Mushtaq Ahmed contended that initially the charge of terrorism was not mentioned in the FIR of the alleged triple murder case since the anti-terror law was enacted on Aug 20, 1997.

Therefore, Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the ATA, 1997 was not applicable in the present case, the counsel added and asked the judge to remove the same from the case.

Through the second plea moved under Section 23 of the anti-terror law, Mr Ahmed had argued that the ATC had no jurisdiction to try the applicant in the present case since the case did not fall within the ambit of ‘terrorism’ as none of the witnesses in the case in their statements had stated that the alleged incident had caused a sense of terror. Therefore, the court was pleaded to transfer the case to a sessions’ court for further trial.

In his arguments, Rangers prosecutor Rana Khalid had opposed both the pleas arguing that the case fell within the ambit of Section 7 of the ATA, 1997 and the anti-terror law was applicable in the present case. The prosecutor further contended that the pleas were meant to delay the trial and had pleaded to the court to dismiss the same for lacking merit.

Complainant’s evidence sought

The court put off hearing on another application moved by the defence counsel, under Section 540 of the CrPC, seeking to re-examine the complainant, Shahnaz Hamid, a former bureaucrat and widow of the slain KESC MD, in the present case.

According to the prosecution, the then SHO of the Gulbahar police station, Mohammad Aslam Khan, better known as Chaudhry Aslam, arrested Saulat Mirza in December 1998 at the Karachi airport. During investigation, Mirza confessed to having killed the former KESC chief and named his accomplices.

The prosecution alleged that the crime was committed to avenge the removal of MQM supporters from the KESC by the then MD.

An ATC had already sentenced Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker Saulat Ali Khan, better known as Saulat Mirza, to death in 1999 in this case and he was executed in the Machh jail in Balochistan on May 12, 2015.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2019