Duty judge says he can’t start trial in Rana Sana case

Updated October 19, 2019

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Judge rejects ANF prosecutor's plea to indict PML-N lawmaker Rana Sanaullah Khan and start trial proceedings. — DawnNewsTV/File
Judge rejects ANF prosecutor's plea to indict PML-N lawmaker Rana Sanaullah Khan and start trial proceedings. — DawnNewsTV/File

LAHORE: A duty judge presiding over a special court for Control of Narcotics Substance (CNS) on Friday turned down a plea of the prosecution to formally start trial of former law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan in a drug case.

District & Sessions Judge Khalid Bashir observed that he was hearing the case as a duty judge till the appointment of a regular incumbent. He said a duty judge was supposed to hear day to day proceedings or urgent nature only.

Therefore, the judge rejected the plea of a prosecutor of the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) to indict the PML-N lawmaker and start trial proceedings.

Earlier, defence counsel Azam Nazir Tarar argued that call detail record (CDR) of Mr Khan and the investigating officer should be obtained from the relevant cellular companies.

He said the CCTV footage retrieved from the record of Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA) and the CDR should be made part of the investigation as the defence had been claiming from day one that the investigating officer was not present on the scene at the time of arrest.

ANF prosecutor Ch Kashif Javed opposed the plea and said the question of the CDR was premature as the trial had not been started so far. He said the cellular companies preserved the CDR for one year so there was no urgency.

He said first the defence was after the CCTV footage and now it wanted record of the mobile phones.

Mr Tarar interrupted and said Article 10-A of the Constitution protected the right to fair trial.

However, the prosecutor said the same article also protected the rights of the prosecution. He said all being contended by the defence was the arguments meant to be advanced during the trial. The prosecutor also complained that the suspect outside the court misled media about the case.

The judge extended judicial remand of Khan till Nov 2 and directed the prosecution to obtain CDR of the suspect and the IO.

On previous hearing, the defence counsel had claimed that video record retrieved from the PSCA had shattered the story of the prosecution narrated in the FIR.

He said as per the FIR the vehicle of Mr Khan was stopped by the personnel at Ravi Toll Plaza on 3:25pm. Whereas, he said, record extracted from the cameras of the safe city authority showed the vehicle passing through Doctor’s Hospital on Canal Road, over 14.5 km away from the place of arrest, on 3:35 pm.

The counsel had claimed that whole episode mentioned in the FIR was not humanly possible to happen within 10 minutes only.

The ANF had arrested Khan on July 1, claiming to have recovered 15-kg heroin from his vehicle. The FIR was lodged under section 9 (C) of Control of Narcotic Substances Act 1997, which carries death penalty or life imprisonment or a jail-term that may extend to 14 years along with a fine upto Rs1 million.

Published in Dawn, October 19th, 2019