LAHORE: The Lahore High Court has ruled that a suspect charged with an offence punishable with diyat (blood money) can be detained in jail during investigation or awaiting trial decision.

Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh gave the ruling, denying pre-arrest bail to a man booked for an offence of Qatal-bis-Sabab (murder without intention), which entails a punishment of blood money only under Section 322 of the PPC.

According to prosecution, Saliha Munawar, Maida Iqbal, Faiza Zafar and Ayesha Nawaz studied at Government Sadiq College (Women Univer­sity) Bahawalpur. They stayed at a private hostel owned by the suspect, Abdul Sattar.

The hostel had a water tank on the roof which was constantly leaking. The students repeatedly asked the suspect to get it repaired but he turned a deaf ear to them. Consequently, the water damaged the building, which was already in a bad condition.

On April 29, 2023, the roof of the hostel caved in, killing Saliha and Maida and injuring other two students.

The complainant, the father of one of the deceased girls, lodged an FIR under section 302 of the PPC regarding the incident. The suspect appro­ached the court for pre arrest bail.

A counsel for the suspect argued that the petitioner was not to be blamed for the incident as it was an act of God.

He argued that if the prosecution succeeded at the trial, the petitioner might only be liable for diyat, which can be paid in installments over five years from the final judgement.

Discussing the offence of murder without intention, Justice Sheikh observed that the criminal liability for pure omissions was exceptional. He said in contemporary society, numerous statutes explicitly classify certain omissions as criminal offences, and in specific situations, a failure to act can be considered blameworthy.

The judge noted that courts have long held that murder and manslaughter can be committed by omission.

He said most cases of homicide by omission have resulted in manslaughter convictions.

The judge maintained that a person is legally accountable not only for engaging in an illegal act that results in the death of another person but also for failing to take measures within his power to prevent such an event from happening if he owes a duty of care.

Justice Sheikh concluded that the petitioner did not have a case for pre-arrest bail and dismissed his petition.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2023

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