LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday adjourned a Punjab government’s appeal against the acquittal of suspects in the Sahiwal incident due to unavailability of the prosecutor general.

At the outset of the hearing, a two-judge bench headed by Justice Ali Baqar Najafi asked about the absence of Prosecutor General of Punjab Rana Arif Kamal Noon.

A deputy prosecutor general told the bench that the prosecutor general had no intimation about the court’s order requiring his personal appearance.

The bench observed that hearing the point of view of the prosecutor general was necessary before proceeding further in the matter.

The bench adjourned the hearing till Jan 24 with a direction to the prosecutor general to ensure his appearance.

Then district police officer of Sahiwal, Ali Zia, complainant Muhammad Jaleel and witnesses of the case were present in the court on the previous direction by the bench.

Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz, who headed the bench, observed that the suspects were acquitted after the complainant and the witnesses resiled from their statements and the judiciary was blamed for not rendering justice in the case.

On Jan 19, 2019, Muhammad Khalil, his wife Nabeela and their four children were travelling in a car with neighbour Zeeshan behind the steering wheel when the personnel of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) intercepted the vehicle and opened fire on the passengers suspecting them terrorists.

Three minor siblings of Khalil namely Umair, Jazba and Muneeba survived the attack with minor injuries.

Yousafwala police had registered the first information report on the complaint of Jalil, brother of deceased Khalil, under sections 302, 324, 337 (F1, F-A1 & F3), 201 of Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

The suspects namely Safdar Hussain, Ahsan Khan, Muhammad Ramzan, Saifullah, Hasnain Akbar and Nasir Nawaz were indicted by the trial court. However, they were acquitted.

The prosecution presented 24 private witnesses, however, all of them exonerated the suspects from the charge and majority of them said they knew nothing about the occurrence. The government filed the appeal against the acquittal of the police personnel.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2022

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