The Lahore High Court (LHC) has shattered the hopes of many by acquitting Shah Hussain in Khadija Siddiqi stabbing case. Once again it has brought up the debate of how fair our justice system is when the influential get away with their crimes and people wait years for justice and many innocent people are also punished by law to save the influential. The court till now has only announced the acquittal and is yet to take out the short order explaining why the acquittal has been granted to a person whose crime has previously been proved in lower courts.
Courts are supposed to be the safe haven for those seeking justice but it is a known fact that the sessions court - in which Shah Hussain’s 7-year jail term was challenged - urged Khadija to give up the case and resolve the matter with Shah having to serve a jail term. The way her lawyers were threatened and abused within court shows how strong the institution is which is meant to safeguard the clauses of the constitution. This decision by the LHC reinforces how the law is only for the influential - Khadija’s security set up has been taken away after this, which leaves her exposed to those who tried to attack her before. This is the time she would need more security than ever but the law, as the masses are pointing out, is failing her.
This was a high profile case and the decision was bound to be picked up by the masses - judiciary’s bias towards their own fraternity is being highlighted in this decision. In the recent past, we have witnessed the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) taking measures to fix the system at large but this decision goes against the essence of his actions because his own institution is plagued by the same corruption which is affecting all other institutions of Pakistan.
At the same time, this sets the wrong precedent for the women of this country who shy away from going to the justice system to seek help in their cases. When they come forward with their stories, they are maligned and asked to prove their stories in the court of law but when they actually seek the help of the court - the decision favours the influential. Who is going to hold these individuals accountable who creates hindrances in the path of justice?