ISLAMABAD - Mashal Khan case may be shifted from the trial court in Mardan to some other court, as Chief Justice of Pakistan has noted that the law is available to transfer the case.

“For ensuing fair trial the law is available to transfer the case from one place to another,” CJP Mian Saqib Nisar said while heading a three-judge bench, which heard suo moto regarding Mishal’s lynching by a mob.

Mashal Khan, a 23-year-old student of journalism at the Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardan, was killed by an angry mob at university hotel on April 13, 2017.

He was shot in the head and chest and then his body was desecrated by the mob, on allegations of posting blasphemous content online which the police have found to be wrong.

Under section 526 of the Code of Criminal Procedure the High Court may transfer the case or try it itself. The section 526(a) says the case could be shifted “whenever it is made to appear to the High Court that a fair and impartial inquiry or trial cannot be had in any Criminal Court subordinate”.

The counsel of Mashal’s father, Khawaja Izhar informed the court that the principle witness Ziaullah Hamdani had recorded his statement before the JIT but he was not cross-examined. He requested the bench that in view of the security of witnesses the case be shifted to Islamabad .

The chief justice noted that in the Tayyaba case there was a problem in shifting the case from one trial court to another but, he added, there is a law available for shifting the case.

The chief justice said it was the state responsibility to provide security to witnesses. He said in terrorism related cases the witnesses are provided security and identity of the judge is not disclosed.

The counsel also told the court that “Mashal’s sisters can’t go to school due to security reasons.”

The chief justice said that they could be admitted in Islamabad but then how would they come from Mardan daily. And, if they stay in some hostel, there again would be security issues, he added.

Mashal’s father Muhammad Iqbal Khan said his son’s body was desecrated for hours but police failed to take any action.

The chief justice remarked that the points he has raised were in their minds too. He said a campaign was run and a protest took place before the incident happened. He asked where the police and administration were at that time. He added that if it was criminal negligence then why no departmental action has been taken.

Earlier, KP Additional Advocate General Waqar Khan informed the court that the provincial government, following a court order, withdrew its request for constitution of a judicial commission to probe the matter.

Waqar also submitted a progress report on behalf of the police, claiming 53 accused have been arrested so far while two others were still at large. He also informed that the main suspect, Imran Iqbal, had confessed to his crime.

Mardan Police DIG told that interim challan of 49 accused has been submitted in the court, while the final challan would be submitted after the forensic report. He added that police had collected CCTV and mobile phone footages and were investigating the matter from different angles.

The chief justice directing the police to submit final challan before the next date of hearing, adjourned the case for three weeks.

RIAZ KHAN FROM MARDAN ADDS

Local police sources said that 56 suspected have been arrested so far in the case, while three suspects - including PTI tehsil councillor Mohammad Arif - were still at large.

The sources added that Arif’s name has been put on the Exit Control List (ECL), while police have also asked National Database and Registration Authority to block his CNIC.

Agencies add: Mashal Khan’s father Muhammad Iqbal Khan spoke to the media after the case hearing and he demanded security for his daughters.

He said that Mashal’s sisters cannot continue their education due to danger to their lives. He expressed the desire to have his daughters continue their education in Islamabad instead.

The father of the slain student also remarked that Abdul Wali Khan University Mardan should be opened so that the students could continue their education without any hindrance. He also said that all students should be provided adequate security so that no one could harm anyone on any pretext.