Judge recuses from medical student murder case

Published October 22, 2021
This file photo shows Asma Rani. — Dawn/File
This file photo shows Asma Rani. — Dawn/File

PESHAWAR: Justice Musarrat Hilali of the Peshawar High Court on Thursday recused herself from hearing the appeal of a man, who was sentenced to death by the trial court for killing medical college student Asma Rani but was recently pardoned by her family.

A bench consisting of Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Musarrat Hilali took up for hearing the appeal of convict Mujahidullah.

However, Justice Musarrat expressed her inability to hear the case leading to the adjournment of the hearing.

The appellant was convicted by Peshawar’s district and sessions judge on June 25, 2021, and was sentenced to death with a fine of Rs300,000 and payment of Rs2 million compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased.

PHC adjourns hearing into convict’s appeal

However, the trial court acquitted two of the co-accused, including the appellant’s brother, Sadiqullah, and his friend, Shahzeb, who were charged with abetting the crime.

In the high-profile case, complainant Mohammad Irfan, a brother of the deceased, had claimed that Mujahidullah, who was already married, along with his brother, Sadiqullah, had opened fire at the deceased near her residence in Kohat on Jan 27, 2018.

The motive for the murder, he claimed, was that the deceased had turned down his marriage proposal.

Following the occurrence, Mujahidullah had fled to the UAE the same night but was later arrested when the Interpol issued the Red Notice for him at the request of Pakistani government. He was shifted back in March 2018.

The deceased had named Mujahidullah as her killer in a video clip, which went viral on social media and caused a public outcry. The then chief justice of Pakistan, Saqib Nisar, had also taken notice of it and issued orders for his early arrest.

Last month, the deceased’s father, Ghulam Dastagir, announced the pardoning of Mujahid following the efforts of a jirga.

Usually, under the Code of Criminal Procedure and Pakistan Penal Code, an accused can be pardoned by legal heirs of a deceased in a murder case at any stage of the trial or appellate stage.

Advocate Hussain Ali appeared in the court for the appellant on Thursday, whereas Barrister Amirullah Khan Chamkani appeared as amicus curiae.

During proceedings, Justice Musarrat Hilali wondered if it was a joke that the deceased was brutally killed, the appellant had fled abroad and the government used resources to bring him back but he was pardoned and has been seeking acquittal on the basis of that compromise.

During one of the hearings, the bench had appointed Barrister Amirullah Khan as amicus curiae asking him to assist the court on the point that in view of the provisions of CrPC, PPC and Constitution, what scope was left for the court to intervene when a murder case was privately patched up by the parties.

The trial of the case was conducted inside the Peshawar Central Prison. The high court had ordered the shifting of the trial to Peshawar from Kohat as the complainant side had requested for it due to security reasons.

Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2021

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