KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday set aside the sentence of life imprisonment handed down by a trial court to two Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) activists in the 2000 murder case of two police officers.
An antiterrorism court had sentenced to life Obaid alias K2 and Nadir Shah in February 2018 for killing inspectors Mohammad Rehan and Mohammad Nisar in March 2000 in the Solider Bazaar area.
Both the accused were among around 100 persons picked up by Rangers during a pre-dawn raid on and around Nine Zero, the then headquarters of the MQM in Azizabad on March 11, 2015.
They filed appeal against their conviction and after hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha allowed their appeals and acquitted both the appellants.
The SHC observed that the prosecution had rested its case mainly banking on the sole eyewitness of the case, but it could not safely relied on him for correctly identifying the appellants in an identification parade held after a lapse of 15 years.
The court extended the benefit of the doubt to the appellants.
The bench in its order said that as per the eyewitness, who is a junk dealer, he happened to be in the area pushing his cart when he saw the double murder.
However, the court noted that the eyewitness could not name his shop, its location and even his residential address. He was also not named as a witness in the FIR, it added.
“As such it appears that he had no genuine reason to be in the vicinity and appears to be a chance witness,” the verdict said.
The bench further observed that even if he was present at the crime scene, he did not mention in his evidence about his distance from the place of the incident and did not give physical description of the appellants in his statement recorded by the police.
“It appears that he would have only got a fleeting glance of them during a chaotic and frightening incident whereby he would be looking to take over from indiscriminate firing,” it added.
The bench in its order noted that taking all these factors into account and the fact that the eyewitness had picked out the appellants among the dummies around 15 years after the incident, it could not safely rely on the identification parade as the same had become inconsequential.
It further said that the admission of the guilt of the appellants before the police was inadmissible as evidence as their statement was not recorded before a judicial magistrate despite they were produced before the magistrate for an identification parade.
“For the reasons discussed above by extending the benefit of the doubt to the appellants they are both acquitted of the charge and the impugned judgement is set aside,” the verdict concluded.
The prosecution said that the complainant, a brother of one of the slain police officers, had named the two accused along with their absconding associates, Asif Danan, Javed Shah Puri, Abid, Shahid and Javed Akhtar Siddiqui, in the FIR.
It was stated in the FIR that the slain police officers had taken part in the Karachi operation and that the nominated suspects had subjected them to death threats.
Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2021