News @ 3 – 31st January 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the locus standi of members of civil society to file appeals challenging the Sindh High Court November 28 verdict that paved the way for the release of Shahrukh Jatoi and other accused on bail.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who headed the three-judge bench, questioned how civil society or NGOs could file appeals when neither the aggrieved party nor the state wanted to question the verdict.

He observed that if everyone was given the right to file cases, this would lead to exploitation.

The bench issued notice to Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf to appear in person or depute deputy attorney general on next hearing on Thursday (tomorrow) to assist court in the matter.

Members of civil society have filed appeals in the apex court challenging the Sindh High Court’s November 28 verdict that set aside the sentences awarded to Shahrukh Jatoi and other accused in Shahzeb murder case.

The appellants stated that the Sindh High Court erred while overturning an anti-terrorism court’s guilty verdict and ordering retrial of the suspects by an ordinary court.

Since the murder had triggered fear and panic among the people, it fell under the anti-terrorism law, they said while pleading with the court to declare the high court’s judgment null and void.

On December 23, Shahrukh Jatoi and other accused were released after a local court granted them bail when the father of the deceased filed an affidavit in support of their bail applications.

Aurangzeb Khan, the victim’s father, submitted an affidavit in the court, confirming that he and members of his family had pardoned the suspects without any pressure or duress in the name of Allah. He added that an out-of-court settlement was reached with the suspects back in 2013.

Twenty-year-old Shahzeb Khan, son of a DSP, was gunned down on the night of December 24, 2012 in Karachi’s Defence Housing Society.

The incident had sparked widespread outrage across the country and attracted much media attention, prompting the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice of the murder.

Jatoi, and his friend Siraj Talpur were sentenced to death while his younger brother Sajjad Talpur and their cook Ghulam Murtaza Lashari were awarded life in prison by an anti-terrorism court.

Subsequently, the convicts challenged their sentences in the high court, requesting it to set the sentences aside.

The SHC appellate bench overturned their sentences and sent the case back to a sessions court to conduct the trial of the suspects afresh.

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