Noor Mukadam murder: Court rejects plea to form medical board on Zahir Jaffer's mental state

Published January 5, 2022
In this file photo, Zahir Jaffer, the main accused in the murder of Noor Mukadam, is seen being brought to a court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File
In this file photo, Zahir Jaffer, the main accused in the murder of Noor Mukadam, is seen being brought to a court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV/File

A sessions court in Islamabad dismissed on Wednesday an application filed by the legal team of Zahir Jaffer — the primary accused in the Noor Mukadam murder case — seeking the constitution of a medical board to determine his mental health.

Additional Sessions Judge Ata Rabbani announced the verdict, which the court had reserved earlier in the day after hearing arguments from both sides.

At the hearing, Advocate Shah Khawar, the counsel for Noor's family, submitted in court his written response to the defendant's petition and asked the court to dismiss the request.

"Zahir Jaffer kept on appearing before the court on various occasions for remand and trial," Khawar noted. "The application by the primary accused was submitted at the time when the trial was concluding."

Public prosecutor Hassan Abbas recalled that Zahir, during one of the hearings, had asked why Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) was imposed on him.

He further said that Zahir used to counsel students at a local school, adding that "all these things are on record" as he opposed the accused's application for the formation of a medical board.

Zahir's counsel, Sikandar Zulqarnain , also presented his arguments. He said the request for a medical board was submitted only after witnessing his client's behaviour during the course of the trial.

It is pertinent to mention here that Zahir was forcefully removed from the courtroom multiple times during the trial for hurling obscenities at the judge and being disruptive during court proceedings.

Subsequently, the court reserved its verdict the formation of a medical board's formation and adjourned the case till January 15.

Earlier hearings

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.

As the court resumed hearing the Noor Mukadam murder case witnesses were cross-examined and CCTV footage of the events leading to the murder was played in the courtroom.

On December 8, counsel for Tahir Zahoor — the owner of a counselling and psychotherapy service, Therapy Works, and an accused in the murder case — had requested the court to hold an in-camera hearing for the CCTV footage.

The CCTV footage of the incident was leaked in November, following which the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority had prohibited all satellite television channels from airing it.

The DVD of CCTV footage was de-sealed in the court today. Prior to the video being played in the court, media personnel and lawyers not related to the case were asked to leave the courtroom. Once the footage had been played, the courtroom was reopened for observers.

Meanwhile, computer operator Mudassir was cross-examined today by Zahir's counsel, who asked him questions regarding the CCTV footage's length and the memory capacity of the DVR on which the footage was recorded.

On Dec 1, the accused's counsel had filed an application seeking the constitution of a medical board to determine Zahir's mental state.

Case background

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.

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 had returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.

They had found her cellphone number switched off and started a search for her. Sometime later, Noor had 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 had informed Shaukat that Noor was not with him, the FIR said.

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

Police had subsequently taken 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 his daughter's body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.

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

Six officials of Therapy Works, including Zahoor, were also nominated in the case and were indicted with six others, including Zahir Jaffer's parents, in October.

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