Civil Society has appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the Sindh High Court (the Court) Judgment of 28th November 2017 (Impugned Judgment) in which the Court decided not only to remove the terrorism charges from the case but also order a denovo trial sending the matter back to session’s court in a case decided more than four years ago by an Anti Terrorism Court (ATC). The Court in doing so not only disregarded the factual and legal findings of the ATC but also the findings of a divisional bench of Sindh High Court in the same matter where by the Court was pleased to decide the issue of jurisdiction observing that the matter rightly falls within the scope of Anti Terrorism Act 1997.

According to a press release by the civil society , “In our humble view the Court has erred in the Impugned Judgment by placing reliance on the Honourable Supreme Court (Supreme Court) Judgment of Waris Ali and 5 others versus the State’ (2017 SCMR 2572) which in our view was inapplicable and irrelevant to the facts of this case. Furthermore, the Honourable Court also failed to consider the judgments of the Supreme Court in ‘Kashif Ali versus the Judge, Anti Terrorism Court No.2, Lahore and Others’ (PLD 2016 SC 951) and ‘Shahbaz Khan alias Tippu and Others versus Special Judge, Anti Terrorism Court No.3, Lahore and others’ (PLD 2016 SC 1).”

Civil society was disappointed by the role of the State which through the Prosecutor General, Sindh, conceded to the case of the accused persons and consented to the Impugned Judgment and as a consequence, the State has abdicated its legal and moral responsibilities to safeguard the rights of the citizens in the criminal justice system.

Secondly, for unexplainable reasons, even the legal heirs of Shahzeb Khan consented to the Impugned Judgment although they had rigorously contested the case in the Trial Court and as a consequence, they are unlikely to file any appeal.

Thirdly, in view of the aforementioned facts, it became the constitutional and moral duty of people of Pakistan to file this Complaint in order to maintain the confidence of citizens like us in the criminal justice system to dispel the emerging perception that the criminal justice system can be manipulated by the powerful and rich.

The brutal murder of Shahzeb Khan had sent shockwaves across Pakistan terrorizing people given the manner in which the killers carried out the murder sending a message to society that they are “all powerful and above the law” as also observed by the ATC in this case.

This Complaint has been signed by more than 400 citizens of Pakistan from not just Karachi but also Lahore, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Swabi, Mianwali, Sargodha, Layyah, Chakwal and DG Khan belonging to different age groups and different walks of life including students, teachers, doctors, media persons, business community, housewives and lawyers.

Most notably the application is also supported by family and friends of Khadija Siddiqi, Late Barrister Fahad Malik and other victims of violence similar to one which Shahzeb Khan was subjected where the criminals attacked the victims shamelessly in public spaces in front of several citizens and without any fear of the law and law enforcement agencies and have also used their money and influence to exhaust the victim families in their pursuit for justice.

It is believed by the civil society that the ill precedent set by the Court through its Impugned Judgment will not cause injustice in the murder case of Shahzeb Khan but will adversely affect all victims across Pakistan in similar situations.

It further said, “We are aware that that an Appeal has also been filed against the Impugned Judgment by several members of the civil society under Article 185(3) of the Constitution, 1973 in the Supreme Court. In view of the above we appeal to you that in order to safeguard our Fundamental Rights, as well as the Fundamental Rights of People of Pakistan, it is humbly requested the Chief Justice may kindly convert this Complaint into a Human Rights Case and exercise jurisdiction on this matter under Article 184(3), Constitution, 1973.”