A Karachi anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday reserved its verdict on the fate of the challan in the Nazim Jokhio murder case after the prosecution and the investigating officer argued that the case was not related to terrorism and therefore, should be tried by a sessions court instead of an ATC.
Nazim's tortured body was found at a farmhouse belonging to PPP MPA Jam Awais last year in November.
The victim's brother, Afzal Jokhio, had nominated Awais and his older brother MNA Jam Abdul Karim as well as their guards for murdering 26-year-old Nazim. The deceased had earned the ire of the lawmakers for stopping their foreign guests from hunting houbara bustard, a rare bird species, according to the first-information report (FIR).
During today's hearing, the ATC-XV judge — who is conducting the trial at the judicial complex inside the central prison — heard arguments on whether it was within the court's jurisdiction to conduct the trial.
Investigating Officer (IO) Inspector Sirajuddin Lashari said the case did not concern an act of terrorism. Therefore, the case may be transferred from an anti-terrorism court to an ordinary sessions court for conducting the trial in accordance with the law, he argued.
Advocate Rehman Ghous, representing Nazim's widow Shirin Jokhio, also supported the IO's stance. He said that since the case did not fall within the ambit of terrorism, it should be transferred to a sessions court.
However, Advocate Ali Asghar Narejo — who claimed he was also representing the victim's widow — opposed the prosecution's view. He argued that the offence against the accused fell within the meaning of terror, therefore, the case was within the ambit of the anti-terror law.
He urged the judge to conduct the trial in accordance with the law.
Advocate Mazhar Ali Junejo, the complainant's counsel, also opposed the prosecution’s stance. He contended that the brutal murder was meant to terrorise the community and the victim's clan and therefore, the accused should be tried for committing a terrorism offence.
The judge observed that “on receiving the charge sheet, the jurisdiction of this court has been challenged even by the investigating officer and prosecution, therefore, I am of the humble opinion that firstly the jurisdiction may be decided”.
Advocate Muhammad Jibran Nasir, representing the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), urged the court to decide his client's application seeking to join trial proceedings. He argued that the group had the locus standi to join the case as an intervener.
However, the judge said that the pending applications would be taken up after the jurisdiction of the court to preside over the case was decided. Subsequently, he reserved the verdict to be pronounced on May 10.