KARACHI: The trial in the high-profile Perween Rahman murder case remains stalled for more than a year following restraining orders passed by the Sindh High Court, it has emerged.
Ms Rahman, head of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.
Five years later, Abdul Raheem Swati, his son Mohammad Imran Swati, Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan, and Ahmed Khan alias Ahmed Ali alias Pappu Kashmiri were charged with the murder.
According to the prosecution, some of the detained accused during interrogation had confessed to their involvement in the crime and disclosed that local leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP) had allegedly hired Taliban militants to kill her. The judge of the ATC-XIII already recorded statements of the accused persons when the proceedings got stalled.
Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, who is representing the victim’s sister Aquila Ismail, said that his client had requested the trial court to summon officers of the law enforcement agencies, who were heading three different joint investigation teams (JITs) to record their statements in court.
The JITs were constituted on the directives of the Supreme Court to probe into the high-profile killing.
On Dec 22, 2018 the trial court dismissed Ms Ismail’s application and fixed the matter for recording final arguments.
Mr Panhwar said that the complainant filed a revision application against the trial court’s order in the Sindh High Court, pleading to direct the trial court to summon the heads of the JITs for recording their statements against the accused persons.
He said that the SHC issued an interim stay order, restraining the trial court from passing its judgement in the murder case without recording evidence of the heads of the JITs.
“Ever since the trial has been stalled because the restraining order passed by the Sindh High Court is still in the field,” Mr Panhwar explained.
On the last date of hearing on the application, the SHC had asked the counsel for the parties to apprise it about the decision of the Supreme Court, where Ms Ismail had also filed an application seeking a new JIT, under the supervision of the Federal Investigation Agency instead of the Sindh police, to probe the killing afresh, he added.
Defence counsel Shah Imroze Khan alleged that the complainant’s side was employing different tactics to delay the trial, which amounted to violating the rights of accused persons, who had been incarcerated since long.
“The trial cannot proceed further until the matter is finally decided by the apex court,” he said, adding that a new JIT had submitted to Supreme Court its final report in which real estate tycoon Malik Riaz and some politicians were also interrogated. “The matter is now fixed for hearing on Sept 25 at the Supreme Court,” he said.
Speaking to Dawn about the delays in the trial, Ms Ismail maintained that it was up to the Supreme Court to decide the matter.
“We have full faith in the Supreme Court to get justice,” she maintained.
Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2020