LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has observed that the mere admission of a suspect is not sufficient for conviction and the responsibility to prove a case beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt squarely lies with the prosecution.

“If it (prosecution) fails to successfully discharge it, the only result can be the extension of benefit of doubt to the accused person,” Justice Muhammad Tariq Nadeem rules in a verdict acquitting a murder convict.

The verdict further states that it is an established proposition that multiple doubts are not required in this regard; even a single circumstance creating doubt in a prudent mind is sufficient.

The judge observes that it is an obvious principle of law that in case of doubt, the benefit thereof must accrue in favour of a suspect as a matter of right and not of grace.

Acquits murder convict, saying prosecution failed to prove case and remove doubts

Appellant Ghulam Dastagir was convicted under Section 302(c) of the PPC and awarded 14 years of rigorous imprisonment.

The complainant’s counsel argued that the appellant himself admitted in his statement that he murdered the deceased in self-defence. He said after the confession of the accused the weakness of the prosecution’s case became irrelevant.

Justice Nadeem observes that it was the primary duty of the prosecution to establish its own case independently instead of depending upon the weaknesses of defence. In this case, he observes, the prosecution miserably failed to discharge its duty and did not produce sufficient incriminating evidence to connect the appellant with the commission of offence.

“I am quite confident to hold that the defence plea can be accepted or rejected intotoand the practice of picking and choosing some sentences favouring the prosecution in isolation of those favouring the accused/appellant is strictly prohibited by the law,” the judge adds.

The judge allowed the appeal observing that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the appellant beyond any shadow of doubt and set aside his conviction.

AIRHOSTESS’ SUIT: The Lahore High Court has dismissed a petition of a senior airhostess who was terminated from service on charges of submitting a fake graduation degree at the time of her appointment.

Samina Saleem was appointed as an airhostess in the Pakistan International Airlines in 1996. For verification of her BA degree that she submitted, the matter was referred to the university concerned, which reported the document was fake and bogus.

Consequently, a show-cause notice was issued to the petitioner by the authority and she was dismissed from service on Dec 27, 2018, as her reply was deemed unsatisfactory.

The petitioner instituted a suit to challenge the order of her dismissal from service wherein a civil court rejected the plaint on the grounds that the suit was barred by law. The court said the remedy available to the petitioner was a suit for damages and that the suit for declaration instituted by her was not maintainable. She approached the high court after her appeal was rejected by a sessions court also.

The petitioner pleaded that there was no need to submit a BA degree and that the qualification for the appointment of an airhostess was only intermediate. She had provided her intermediate certificate, which was not found to be fake and, therefore, she could not be dismissed on account of irrelevant documents that was not a condition for the job appointment.

Justice Rasaal Hassan Syed observes in his verdict that perusal of the reply to the show-cause notice and the contents of pleadings by the petitioner show that she did not claim that her degree was genuine, but only maintained that there was no need to file a BA degree as it was not the academic requirement for the appointment.

The judge notes that in the present instance the removal of the petitioner from service was on account of furnishing a fake document and the remedy did not lie in seeking a declaration rather the petitioner would be entitled to seek damages, which she could be granted if she proved that the termination was not genuine or amounted to unfair treatment.

The judge further observes that where a service grievance is agitated by an employee who is not governed by statutory rules of service, such a petition under Article 199 of the Constitution will not be maintainable.

The judge dismissed the petition of the airhostess being without substance.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2021

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