Pakistan News

Court stays trial of blasphemy accused’s killer

Court stays trial of blasphemy accused’s killer

PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Monday stayed trial by an anti-terrorism court of a suspected killer of an under-trial blasphemy accused as he has requested it to set aside order of determination of his age through medical examination and also transfer his case to another court.

The bench of PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth after preliminary hearing of two petitions filed by the suspect issued notices to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general and the family of the deceased, Tahir Ahmad Naseem, who was killed inside a courtroom on July 29, directing them to respond to the pleas of the suspect on September 21.

The bench also stayed proceedings of a medical board, which was directed by the trial court (ATC-III) to ascertain the age of the suspect through medical examination.

The suspect, who was arrested after he allegedly killed the US national Tahir Ahmad Naseem in the Judicial Complex, has filed a revision petition requesting the high court to set aside the impugned order of the ATC of September 8 and issue directive to conduct his trial under the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018.

Suspect requests court to set aside order of his age determination

In the other petition he has requested the court to transfer his case from ATC-III to any other court.

The FIR of the occurrence was registered at East Cantonment police station under Section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code, Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act and Section 15 of Arms Act.

Advocates Shabbir Hussain Gigyani and Enamullah Yousafzai appeared for the petitioner and contended that school documents of their client clearly proved that he was below 18 years of age and thus he was a child as per definition given in the Juvenile Justice Act, 2018.

They stated that in presence of relevant documents, the ATC-III had no legal powers to order determination of his age through medical examination.

The counsels said that the investigation officers had inquired about the age of the suspect and had mentioned it as 17 years. They added that initially when the petitioner was produced before a court after his arrest the court also mentioned his age as 17 years on August 3.

They stated when the case was entrusted for trial to ATC-III, the presiding officer while ignoring the relevant documents and overriding the mandate of law, referred him for medical examination for determination of his age on September 8.

They contended that section 8 of the JJSA provided that the investigation officer or head of a police station should determine age of an accused on basis of his birth certificate, educational certificate or any other pertinent documents and in absence of such documents his age might be determined on basis of medical examination report by a medical officer.

In the other petition, the counsels stated that the petitioner’s father had given affidavit that at very initial stage, during the custody proceedings, the judge of ATC-III had expressed his judicial mind about guilt of the petitioner and even about quantum of sentence.

They said that keeping in view pre-judgment determination and expression about guilt of the petitioner and even about quantum of sentence, it created reasonable apprehensions in his mind for not having an impartial trial.

It is worth mentioning that bail petition of a junior lawyer, Tufail Zia, who was arrested on charges of facilitating the prime suspect by providing him a pistol, has been pending before the ATC.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2020

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