A sessions court in Islamabad on Monday granted bail to six officials of Therapyworks, including its owner and chief executive officer Tahir Zahoor, in connection with the Noor Mukadam murder case.
The short order was announced by Additional Sessions Judge Muhammad Ata Rabbani who reserved the decision earlier today. He directed all six officials — Zahoor, Amjad, Dilip Kumar, Abdul Haq, Wamiq and Samar Abbas — to submit bail bonds of Rs5 million each.
A written copy of the order is expected to be issued tomorrow.
Therapyworks, a counselling and psychotherapy service, came under public scrutiny as the murder investigation unfolded and it was revealed that the primary suspect, Zahir Zakir Jaffer, was associated with it.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Investigation Attaur Rehman had told Dawn that staff of Therapyworks had reached Zahir's house and after breaking into it, they found Noor's beheaded body on the first storey.
They overpowered the accused and tied him up before the police arrived, Rehman had said.
During the hearing on the bail petitions today, Zahoor's lawyer, Barrister Qasim Nawaz, argued that the Therapyworks owner was arrested despite his name not being mentioned in the first information report (FIR) of the case.
He said therapy-related work was his client's profession and that he treated people.
On the other hand, Shah Khawar, the counsel for Noor's family, argued that Therapyworks employees had broken the doors to enter the house of the primary suspect Zahir.
"Zahir Jaffer killed Noor and then informed his parents," the counsel said. "They called the Therapyworks centre to go [to their home] and check on their son."
However, Barrister Nawaz contended that the "allegations" levelled against his client were false, adding that the sections included in the FIR against Therapyworks employees were "bailable offences".
Shahzad Qureshi, the counsel for the other five Therapyworks officials, said that his clients had always appeared before the police when called.
"[Therapyworks owner] Tahir Zahoor is a heart patient, his kidneys are affected and he has high blood pressure issues," Barrister Nawaz further argued as he submitted his client's medical history to the court.
He said the personnel sent by Therapyworks had "arrested" Zahir and did so despite being injured by the primary suspect.
Amjad's medical history was also submitted to the court.
Qureshi informed the court that Amjad had been injured when Zahir attacked him with a knife. "The five people went to the scene [of the murder]. How did Amjad get injured if they were hiding the evidence?"
"Zahir attacked Amjad and critically injured him. [They themselves] called the police. They were turned into suspects 18 days after the incident," he further stated.
For his part, the counsel for Noor's family opposed the bail plea, arguing that the investigation was ongoing, call records were being collected and CCTV footage was "important evidence".
As people's roles are discovered, they are being nominated as suspects, he added.
The plaintiff's counsel argued that Zahir's father had called Zahoor instead of the police and told him to "go and check."
The police station is 10 minutes away from where the murder took place, he informed the court, adding that Amjad had surgery and was discharged from hospital but the matter was still "not handed over to the police".
Amjad had "not wrongly" been turned into a suspect, he argued.
Judicial remand of Zahir's parents extended
Meanwhile, the state prosecutor, Hassan Abbas, told the court that Zahir's father had known that the murder was taking place. "Police reached on a call from neighbours because nobody had informed them of anything. Zahir's parents' bail was rejected because they had not informed the police."
He also said that Dilip Kumar had taken Amjad, the injured official of TherapyWorks, to the hospital and told them that the wounds were from an "accident".
Zahir's parents — Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee — had reached the house between 7 and 9pm but did not inform the police while efforts were made to "wipe the evidence", the prosecutor said.
After hearing the arguments, Judge Rabbani extended the judicial remand of Zahir's parents and two other suspects till September 6.
Mr Asad Jamal, counsel of Zahir Jaffer’s parents — Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Zakir Jaffer has through a letter to Dawn.com rebutted the statement of the state prosecutor Hassan Abbas that Zahir's parents had reached the house between 7 and 9pm on July 20 but did not inform the police while efforts were made to "wipe the evidence".
According to Mr Asad Jamal, Asmat Zakir Jaffer and Zakir Jaffer both were in Karachi on July 20, 2021 and returned to Islamabad on July 21, 2021 by a 7.30 am flight. To support his contention, Mr Jamal has provided Dawn.com copies of boarding passes issued by Air Sial. These copies of boarding passes were submitted before the court along with the bail petitions for Asmat Z. Jaffer and Zakir Jaffer.
Noor, 27, was found murdered at a residence in Islamabad's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20.
A first information report (FIR) was registered later the same day against Zahir, who was arrested from the site of the murder, under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the victim's father.
In his complaint, Shaukat Mukadam had stated that he had gone to Rawalpindi on July 19 to buy a goat for Eidul Azha, while his wife had gone out to pick up clothes from her tailor. When he had returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.
They had found her cellphone number switched off, and started a search for her. Sometime later, Noor had called her parents to inform them that she was travelling to Lahore with some friends and would return in a day or two, according to the FIR.
The complainant said he had later received a call from the suspect, whose family were the ex-diplomat's acquaintances. The suspect had informed Shaukat that Noor was not with him, the FIR said.
At around 10pm on July 20, the victim's father had received a call from Kohsar police station, informing him that Noor had been murdered.
Police had subsequently taken the complainant to Zahir's house in Sector F-7/4 where he discovered that his "daughter has been brutally murdered with a sharp-edged weapon and beheaded", according to the FIR.
Mukadam, who identified his daughter's body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.