KARACHI: A sessions court on Tuesday acquitted three men in the retrial of a case pertaining to the gang rape of a young woman on the premises of the Mazar-i-Quaid.

The then assistant manager security of the mausoleum, an accountant and a personal assistant to the resident engineer of the Quaid-i-Azam Management Board were charged with subjecting the young woman to a sexual assault in March 2008.

On Tuesday, Additional District and Sessions Judge (East) Ghulam Mustafa Leghari pronounced his verdict reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

In May this year, the Sindh High Court had set aside the acquittal of the three men and remanded the case back to the trial court, directing it to conduct a fresh trial within three months.

Police had shown two unknown suspects as absconders in the case ever since the incident took place in 2008.

The retrial was held on SHC’s orders that had set aside the 2013 acquittal of accused

During the retrial, victim’s lawyer Amna Usman argued that the trial court had acquitted the accused in April 2013 by deciding the case on the basis of a principle of law, i.e. the Hudood Ordinance instead of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

She further argued that the DNA matching had clearly shown that the three accused were involved in the gang rape. She pleaded to the court to punish them strictly in accordance with the law.

On the other hand, defence counsel Arshad Lodhi contended that around 10 witnesses were examined by the court, but none of them had identified or implicated his clients with the commissioning of the alleged offence.

He further contended that neither the victim had identified the accused before the police nor she recognised them in court.

The counsel argued that the DNA samples, which were allegedly obtained from the clothes of the victim, did not match with those of the accused persons.

He added that even the clothes of the victim were not produced in court as evidence, adding that the testimonies of the witnesses, including the victim’s, the forensic and chemical analysis reports had made the prosecution’s case doubtful.

He pleaded to the court to acquit his clients of the false and fabricated charges.

Earlier in April 2013, while acquitting the accused during the first trial, then Additional District and Sessions Judge (East) Nadeem Ahmed Khan did not treat DNA reports as evidence observing that while they might be helpful in establishing the parentage of a child and other purposes, its utility and evidentiary value was not acceptable under the Hudood laws since they had their own standard of evidence.

The court had ruled that the identification parade, in which the rape survivor had identified one of the accused, lost the legal weight since the magistrate concerned admitted during his evidence before the trial court that the rape survivor had not specifically stated that the accused committed the offence.

The court had further observed that nothing had come on record regarding the place of the recovery of the rape survivor and how she came with Rangers who handed her over to police. But, no Rangers man was examined despite the fact that they were very important witnesses, it noted.

The court ruled that as per medical examination reports there was no mark of violence on the body of the rape survivor while no injury was seen on the bodies of the accused regarding rape.

According to the prosecution, an 18-year-old girl was subjected to a sexual assault after being kidnapped on the premises of the Mazar by around five men on the night of March 15, 2008. She was found in an unstable condition outside the mausoleum on March 17, 2008.

The victim from Lodhran, accompanied by her husband and other relatives, came to Karachi on March 15, 2008 and paid a visit to the Quaid’s mausoleum at night. The couple went inside earlier than the rest of the family members. However, the moment her husband left to bring in the remaining family members, who were waiting outside in a bus, a power breakdown occurred and the victim was allegedly kidnapped by the accused, taken to a room where she was forced to drink wine and sexually assaulted, it added.

An assistant manager security of the mausoleum was taken into custody on March 20, 2008 after the victim identified him as one of the accused during an identification parade, while two others were arrested following the receipt of the DNA report that confirmed their involvement in the case, the prosecution said. Later, all the accused were released on bail.

A case was registered under Sections 376-B (punishment for rape) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC on a complaint of the victim’s father at the Brigade police station.

Published in Dawn, October 6th, 2021

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