KARACHI: The family of slain rights activist Perween Rahman on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court against the acquittal of the main accused by the Sindh High Court in her murder case.

Aquila Ismail, a sister of Ms Rahman and complainant of the case, filed an appeal before the apex court in Islamabad through her lawyer Faisal Siddiqi impugning the Nov 21 SHC verdict that acquitted principle accused Rahim Swati contending that it was based on complete misreading and non-reading of the evidence on the record.

The appellant also challenged the Nov 8 order of the SHC for dismissing an application filed by the complainant for making a TV interview of accused Swati part of the appeal proceedings as additional evidence as he allegedly confessed the murder in the interview.

The lawyer argued that the confession of the prime accused recorded in 2016 clearly proved that he devised the plan to murder Ms Rahman with other accused persons as he wanted to illegally occupy the land on the premises of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) for establishing a karate club.

Lawyer Faisal Siddiqi says apex court will be moved later against acquittal of remaining four accused

He contended that the interview of Ms Rahman recorded in 2011 obviously establishing the motive behind murder as she had clearly mentioned that the principle accused Swati was threatening her to illegally occupy the OPP land.

The counsel further submitted that SHC’s judgement was based on flawed jurisprudence that the accused was the favourite child of criminal law and only duty of court was to protect his right without considering that the court has also an equally important duty towards the victim of the crime in providing justice.

He maintained that just because the accused was the favoured child did not mean that the victim was the forgotten child of the criminal law and the impugned judgement was imbalanced as it only felt the obligation to protect the rights of the accused.

According to the lawyer, the appeal against the remaining four accused persons will be filed before the apex court soon.

On Nov 21, the SHC had exonerated five appellants after overturning their conviction handed down by the trial court in Ms Rahman murder case.

Earlier, an antiterrorism court had sentenced Rahim Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan, Ayaz Ali alias Swati and Ahmed Khan alias Pappu Kashmiri to life imprisonment in December 2021 after finding them guilty of facilitating, aiding and abetting the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan for the murder of the rights activist.

The trial court had also handed down seven-year term to Imran Swati, son of Rahim, on charge of concealing evidence.

Prison authorities had released the accused persons a day after the judgement of the SHC though the complainant had requested the Sindh government to detain the accused persons under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960 as they were residing close to the office of OPP and posing imminent threat to the family of Ms Rahman and around 100 staff members working at OPP.

However, the provincial authorities took around 10 days to decide as on Dec 1, the home department had issued an order on the recommendation of the provincial police chief for detention of the five accused persons. But, they have so far not been arrested again.

Ms Rahman, a renowned social worker and former head of the OPP, was gunned down near her office on Manghopir Road on March 13, 2013.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022

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