KARACHI: Upholding the life term handed down by a trial court to a man for killing his wife, the Sindh High Court on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of investigations and investigating authorities in the gender-based violence cases.

The SHC directed the provincial government to take all-out efforts for training and capacity building of investigators and prosecutors in such cases.

A single-judge bench headed by Justice Omar Sial observed that it was a gender-based violence case and the police did not investigate it well.

A sessions court had sentenced Habibullah to life imprisonment in April 2019 for killing his 28-year-old wife, Aqeela Bibi, at their home within the remit of the Mobina Town police station in September 2011.

Rejects appeal against life term of man who killed wife

The convict, through his lawyer, approached the SHC impugning the trial court order and after hearing both sides the bench dismissed his appeal.

The bench in its verdict observed that if it just looked at the case while eliminating the circumstances surrounding the incident, then in all probability the appellant deserved to be acquitted, but it’s a gender-based violence case and it demanded to be looked at differently though such circumstances had not perfectly been documented or investigated.

It further noted that the appellant’s wife was hammered to death in the middle of the night in the couple’s bedroom and the appellant ran away leaving behind his four children and absconded for a period of seven years.

Though the victim and the appellant had been married for a number of years, their relation was marred by conflict, maltreatment and physical and emotional abuse, it said.

The court stated in the order, “Lethal violence against women and girls in the house looks to be a more difficult problem to solve than killings of women and girls outside the home. One of the most extreme examples of gender-based violence is the murder of women and girls by intimate partners or other family members — people they would typically be expected to trust.”

The bench said that it has been noticed with concern in many cases that the police lacked the specific investigation skills, training and the mindset to deal with such crimes as investigators did not look at these cases from a gender lens and mostly not gathered meaningful evidence and seemed to treat such cases casually.

It also noted that the prosecutors were also lacking interest in these cases since the charge sheets were not being meaningfully reviewed and apparently many prosecutors quite mechanically forwarding such cases to the courts.

“I have taken into account that there is no eyewitness and that the crime weapon was not produced in court. I have also taken into account what the appellant said in his defence. I am of the view that when the dead body of the appellant’s wife was found in their bedroom, in the circumstances in which it was, the onus of proof had shifted on the appellant to give a reasonable defence. His defence, in my opinion, was unbelievable and perhaps even absurd. I find no reason to interfere with the wisdom of the learned trial judge,” it concluded.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2022

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