KARACHI: More than a year after the gruesome killing of young Nazim Jokhio, a sessions court on Saturday indicted a PPP lawmaker and seven others for his murder.
MPA Jam Awais and his servants and guards — Haider Ali, Meer Ali, Muhammad Mairaj, Mohammad Saleem Salar, Mohammad Doda Khan, Ahmed Khan Shoro and Mohammad Soomar — have been charged with torturing the 26-year-old Jokhio to death at Mr Awais’s farmhouse in a Malir locality in November last year.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (Malir) Faraz Ahmed Chandio read out the charges against them.
However, the accused pleaded not guilty and would contest the charges. Subsequently, the court summoned the prosecution witnesses with directions to appear before it on Dec 22 to record their evidence.
Initially, the MPA, along with his elder brother MNA Jam Karim Bijjar and 12 servants, was booked for allegedly torturing Mr Jokhio to death after he had resisted houbara bustard hunting and filmed the lawmakers’ Arab guests while hunting in Mr Jokhio’s village.
Primarily, the police had twice charge-sheeted both PPP lawmakers and others in interim and final charge sheets submitted before a judicial magistrate in Malir.
However, on Feb 8, the magistrate returned the charge sheet and other case papers to the investigating officer with directions to file it before an antiterrorism court (ATC) as he said that the case fell within the ambit of the Antiterrorism Act, 1997.
Therefore, the final charge sheet and case file remained at the office of Sindh’s prosecutor general for around two months on the pretext of detained scrutiny.
In April, the investigating officer filed the charge sheet before the ATC, deleting sections 365 (kidnapping) and 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code and excluding the names of both lawmakers and others from the list of the accused reportedly because the legal heirs had entered into a compromise with the main accused persons, which has yet to be declared valid by the court.
In May, the ATC transferred the case back to a regular court and observed that the case could not fall within the ambit of the ATA as defined by the Supreme Court in 2020 in the Ghulam Hussain versus the state case.
In July, a judicial magistrate discharged PPP lawmaker Mr Karim, and Jamal Ahmed, Abdul Razaque, Muhammad Khan, Mohammad Ishaque and Atta Mohammad from the case over insufficient evidence.
However, the magistrate also said the MPA and his seven servants would stand trial as he had ruled that “grounds exist to believe that offence is committed. Therefore, cognisance is taken on the report for the offences under sections 302 (premeditated murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of the offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 365 (kidnapping), 506 (criminal intimidation), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code”.
The magistrate had also noted that the MPA was removed from the list of the accused based on affidavits given by the complainant/brother of the victim and the deceased’s widow and on their further statements, forgiving the accused in the name of Allah Almighty.
However, he had ruled that since the accused had been let off on the basis of a compromise, which was not the domain of the investigating officer but rather an authority of the trial court to effect a compromise or otherwise; therefore, he did not agree with the report of the investigating officer and the accused persons, who have been let off by the investigating officer despite their nomination in the FIR, would join as accused in the crime and would stand trial before the court.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2022