ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Tuesday summoned a magistrate Kanwar Anwar Ali on February 22 for leaving lacunas in legal obligations in identification parade due to which an accused was wrongly implicated and awarded death sentence on account of murdering a student namely Adil Butt.

The death penalty to accused person Asfandyar Khan was awarded in 2009 by Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) which later converted into life imprisonment by the Lahore High Court (LHC).

However, the top court while hearing an appeal observed lacunas in prosecution case and acquitted Asfandyar. Asfandyar has already served 10 years of his life imprisonment in jail.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa declared that prosecution failed to prove its case and magistrate did not fulfil legal obligations in identification parade.

Summoning the magistrate of relevant point of time, Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa lamented that it is distressing to see such cases.

He questioned why suspects are being treated this way. He further observed that a child was killed and magistrate failed to follow legal obligations due to which a suspect was convicted. He remarked that those who are supposed to follow the law should be held answerable. 

The Chief Justice questioned whether the magistrates are not given training before their appointment. A counsel told the bench that they are given training before appointment as magistrate.

The CJ observed that the ruling could not be delivered outside the ambit of law. He further questioned why the ATC and LHC failed to look at the law.

He further observed that everyday this Court witnesses that the police get to suspects immediately adding the suspects are real but the testimonies are false. “Where will the law go if we too shut our eyes,” questioned Chief Justice Khosa adding someone has to take initiative to ensure law is being followed. During the proceedings, Chief Justice Khosa noted that seemingly the testimonies were made after arrest of suspect.

The bench questioned how the suspect was arrested. The bench was told that the arrest was made on the informer’s information regarding involvement of suspect. The police later found that the suspect allegedly disposed of the corpse in a watercourse.

Chief Justice Khosa observed discrepancies in the statements of witnesses. He observed that according to the statement of one person he witnessed four persons disposing of the corpse in a stream while according to statement of another person he witnessed two persons disposing of the corpse. 

He further raised questions over the procedure followed by police to determine the guilt of a suspect.

The focus of Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, since the day he took the reins of Supreme Court, has been making criminal justice system in order. For the purpose, he is witnessed to have been saying that the weaknesses in prosecution, which lead wrong convictions, need to be eliminated.

In famous Aasia Bibi Case, Chief Justice Khosa remarked that had it been any other criminal case the penalty of lifetime imprisonment under Section 194 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) after summary trial would have been imposed on witnesses.

“It is for this reason; the top court summoned a magistrate, who did not fulfil legal obligations due to which a suspect Asfandyar Khan wrongly implicated, to set example for prosecution and lower courts to carefully make and examine a case so that an innocent should not suffer,” legal experts say.