Noor Mukadam murder: Zahir Jaffer's counsel seeks formation of medical board to determine his 'mental health'

Published December 1, 2021
Zahir Jaffer, the main accused in the murder of Noor Mukadam, is brought to a court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/FileZahir Jaffer, the main accused in the murder of Noor Mukadam, is brought to a court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
Zahir Jaffer, the main accused in the murder of Noor Mukadam, is brought to a court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/FileZahir Jaffer, the main accused in the murder of Noor Mukadam, is brought to a court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

The counsel for Zahir Zakir Jaffer, the primary accused in the Noor Mukadam murder case, on Wednesday filed an application in an Islamabad court seeking the constitution of a medical board to determine his mental state.

Filed in the court of Additional Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani by Advocate Sikandar Zulqarnain Saleem, the application contends that Zahir "is suffering from severe mental ailment which is necessary to be determined through an authorised medical board according to the commands of legislature and local and international law".

Noor, 27, was found murdered at a residence in the capital's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20. A first information report was registered the same day against Zahir — who was arrested from the site of the murder — under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of the victim's father, Shaukat Ali Mukadam.

A trial court on October 14 had indicted Zahir along with 11 others — his parents, their three household staff including Iftikhar (watchman), Jan Muhammad (gardener) and Jameel (cook), Therapyworks CEO Tahir Zahoor and employees Amjad, Dilip Kumar, Abdul Haq, Wamiq and Samar Abbas — in the case. The murder trial formally began on Oct 20.

The application filed during today's hearing stated that when the trial court framed charges against the accused on Oct 14, Zahir "[did not respond] to the charge as he was unable to understand the proceedings of [the] trial court, which is vivid from the charge sheet and order sheet dated" Oct 14.

It stated that the judge "himself observed the demeanour, conduct and state of mind of [Zahir Jaffer] during his appearance before the court and [the] same was aired on all news and TV channels what he [had] done ... and this honourable court sent the accused (Zahir) back to prison through police officials".

Zahir had disrupted proceedings during a hearing of the case on November 3, hurling obscenities at Judge Rabbani who had then directed police officials to take him away. Video footage of the incident showed policemen dragging Zahir out of the courtroom.

The judge had warned Zahir in a written order that his court appearances would be disallowed if he continued his outbursts and did not rectify his behaviour.

Zahir was expelled from the court once again on Nov 10 after he disrupted proceedings for witness cross-examinations.

Zahir "is a chronic patient of mental disorder/schizoaffective disorder due to drug psychosis and the same was the position at the time of his arrest on [July 20]", the application said.

Read: Noor Mukadam murder: Suspect was 'sound and in his senses' when arrested, police say

It added that police and the investigating agency failed in or "willingly avoided" disclosing Zahir's mental health condition in the record and courts due to the complainant's (Noor's father) influence "as the complainant is a [former] ambassador and has good connections in the power corridors".

Highlighting that courts are presumed to be "neutral", the application said "it is unfortunate that after observing the mental health state" of Zahir, the trial court instead of proceeding according to the provisions of Chapter XXXIV of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) "started to proceed the case and recording of evidence in the absence of [Zahir]" which is a violation of CrPC provisions and vitiates the trial.

It cited a number of judgements issued by superior courts which stated that in case an accused's mental capacity was in doubt, their "insanity/mental illness ... shall be adjudged through the constitution of a competent medical board", which it said was also a need in the Noor Mukadam case before proceeding further in the trial.

The application prayed to the court that an "authorised and competent medical board be constituted to determine the lunacy/mental health of the accused Zahir Jaffar in the interest of justice".

During today's proceedings, the lawyers for the accused completed the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses Dr Anum, who had taken the accused's DNA samples, and Dr Hammad, while the testimony of Assistant Sub-Inspector Zubair Mazhar, who had recorded the complainant's statement and collected evidence from the crime scene, was recorded.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Hassan Abbas argued on his application requesting the court to summon Dr Sarah Ali, who had conducted the post-mortem examination of Noor Mukadam. The application was accepted by the court after the prosecutor termed Dr Sarah an important witness.

The lawyer for Therapyworks owner Tahir Zahoor, Akram Qureshi, also filed an application requesting the court to summon the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) doctor who had conducted the medical examination of Amjad, an employee of Therapyworks who was injured by Zahir.

The hearing of the case was adjourned until December 8.

Case background

After the FIR was registered in the murder case, Zahir's parents and household staff were arrested on July 24 over allegations of "hiding evidence and being complicit in the crime". They were made a part of the investigation based on Noor's father's statement.

In his complaint, Shaukat 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 returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.

They found her cellphone number switched off and started a search for her. Sometime later, Noor 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 Zahir, whose family were the ex-diplomat's acquaintances. The suspect informed Shaukat that Noor was not with him.

At around 10pm on July 20, the victim's father received a call from Kohsar police station, informing him that Noor had been murdered.

Police subsequently took 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.

Shaukat, who identified Noor's body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.

Police later said Zahir had confessed to killing Noor, while his DNA test and fingerprints also showed his involvement in the murder.

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