A local court in Karachi directed authorities on Monday to provide B-class jail facilities to PPP MPA Jam Awais, the primary accused in the Nazim Jokhio murder case, and granted the prosecution an extension of three more days to submit the final charge sheet in the case.

Nazim, 27, was found tortured to death at Awais' farmhouse on November 3. The victim’s family accused the MPA, his brother PPP MNA Jam Abdul Karim, and their henchmen of torturing him to death for resisting houbara bustard hunting by the lawmakers' Arab guests in Achar Salaar village on the outskirts of Karachi's Malir district.

At today's hearing, six arrested suspects were produced before Judicial Magistrate (Malir) Altaf Hussain amid tight security.

Awais was not wearing handcuffs when he was presented before the court and, according to eye witnesses, around two dozen men had gathered to support him.

A group of rights activists was also present at the Malir district court where the hearing was held, holding placards and shouting slogans. They demanded justice for the victim's family.

Advocate Mazhar Junejo, the counsel for the complainant in the case, pointed out to the judge that Awais was without handcuffs. He contended that police were "giving protocol" to the lawmaker as was not wearing handcuffs.

The counsel urged the court to direct the investigating officer, Inspector Siraj Lashari, to produce the suspect before the court in handcuffs.

On the other hand, defence counsels Mustafa Mahesar and Wazir Khoso argued that making Awais wear handcuffs would amount to "humiliating" him as he was an elected representative and the chief of a tribe.

They also moved an application for allotting B-class facilities to the MPA. The lawyers said the suspect had voluntarily surrendered to police and said that there was zero likelihood of him absconding.

Following these arguments, the court declined the request of the complainant's counsel and directed prison authorities to provide B-class facilities to Awais in jail.

B-class consists of prisoners who by social status, education or habit of life have been accustomed to a superior mode of living and facilities provided to them include exemption from being handcuffed.

Court grants three days' extension

Earlier at the hearing, IO Lashari told the court that the final charge sheet was at the prosecution department for legal vetting, saying that some more time was required for completing the procedure.

He requested the court to give the prosecutor an extension of three more days for scrutinising and submitting the challan. At that, the court directed the IO and the prosecutor to submit the final charge sheet by the next hearing scheduled for January 13.

The IO had filed an interim charge sheet in the case on December 21 last year, wherein he had nominated 22 suspects, including the two PPP lawmakers and their two foreign guests, employees and security guards.

However, the charge sheet did not specify the role of each of the suspects in committing the offence.

Application for inclusion of terrorism charges

The complainant's counsel, Advocate Junejo, also moved an application under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for including terrorism charges in the case's first information report (FIR).

He argued that the charges against the suspects fell within the ambit of terrorism as Nazim's murder had spread fear and panic among the people.

The counsel urged the court to direct the IO to include Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 in the FIR.

The court issued notices to the IO and the prosecutor seeking their arguments on the application at the next hearing.

Judge declines to bar protesting crowd

The defence counsel also requested the judge to bar the complainant from bringing along "a crowd to the hearing that shouted slogans to defame MPA Awais whenever he is produced before the court".

The judge, however, rejected his request.

Moreover, a group of lawyers representing a non-profit organisation filed a joint affidavit to the court and sought its permission to represent Nazim's widow, Shirin Jokhio, in the case.

They submitted that they also wanted to assist the complainant’s counsel and the prosecution in the case. The judge allowed them to file a joint affidavit in the case.

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