ISLAMABAD              -          The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday set aside the verdict of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) wherein it had enhanced the sentence of former additional judge, Raja Khurram Ali Khan and his wife, Mahin Zafar from one year to three years in a child [Tayyaba] maid torture case.

However, the apex court maintained the one-year sentence handed down by the IHC in April 2018. It was May 2019 when the apex court had reserved its judgment on appeals filed by the judge and his wife against their extended sentence by a division bench of the IHC.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam had taken up appeals filed by Khan and his wife, who had first been sentenced to a year in jail in April 2018 for keeping the then 10-year-old Tayyaba in wrongful confinement, burning her hand over a missing broom, beating her with a ladle, detaining her in a storeroom, and threatening her of “dire consequences”.

In June 2018, when both convicts appealed against the sentence, the IHC dual bench had increased their jail term from one year to three years, with Rs0.5 million fines.

In the verdict announced by the three-member bench, the apex court set aside the three year sentence and maintained the earlier one year jail term for the convicts.

The written judgment announced in an open court was authored by Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Yayha Afridi. The court said that the conviction and initial sentence awarded to the convicts will be maintained.

 “While maintaining her conviction under Section 328-A PPC, the sentence enhanced from one year simple imprisonment to that of three years by the Division Bench of the High Court in its judgment dated 11.06.2018 is set aside,” the verdict of the apex court said.

In its written judgment, the apex court noted that the Division Bench of IHC lacked the jurisdiction to enhance the sentence of the convicts under any provision of law. Thus, the enhancement of sentence awarded to the accused-convicts for the offence under Section 328-A PPC by the Division Bench of the High Court in its impugned judgment was without lawful jurisdiction and of no legal effect.

The verdict of the apex court said that the quantum of sentence for the offence under Section 328-A PPC is the subject matter of another appeal pending before the apex court shall be finally decided therein.