The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed Shahrukh Jatoi and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari’s review petitions filed last month against the cancellation of their bails in the Shahzeb Khan murder case. On February 1, a three-judge SC bench headed by the chief justice had set aside the bail earlier granted to Jatoi and other accused by the Sindh High Court (SHC) in the case concerning their alleged involvement in the December 2012 murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan in Karachi.
The court had also restored terrorism charges against the convicts. Jatoi and Lashari — two of the four accused in the murder case — had challenged the restoration of the anti-terrorism charges against them, while Jatoi had also appealed to the SC to review its decision of cancelling his bail and ordering his arrest.
Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, a member of the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, remarked during Monday’s hearing that the SHC had prima facie failed to consider the apex court’s earlier directives that the Shahzeb murder case fell within the ambit of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
‘The ‘perfect’ order of the [Sindh] High Court had numerous imperfections,’ Justice Khosa remarked, referring to the SHC judgement in which the Shahzeb case was remanded back to a criminal court for a de novo trial and anti-terrorism charges were removed against the accused. The chief justice, meanwhile, observed that the convicts would be acquitted if anti-terrorism charges against them are removed.
Latif Khosa, the counsel of the convicts, contended that the SC decision to restore the charges will deprive his clients of their right to a fair trial. ‘The court can use Article 184(3) of the Constitution specifically for the sake of public interest,’ he argued, adding that if the court does not review its judgement, ‘The child [Jatoi] who has spent five years in the death cell will continue to do rounds of the courts all his life.’
He argued that the original first information report (FIR) lodged against the convicts did not contain anti-terrorism charges, which were added later after the murder was declared an incident of ‘feudal terrorism’. But the court rejected the review petitions filed by Jatoi and Lashari, and directed their lawyer to present his arguments before the SHC, where the appeals against the sentences awarded to his clients by an antiterrorism court will be heard afresh.