ISLAMABAD: In its detailed judgement, the Supreme Court has come down hard on the Lahore High Court (LHC) for acquitting Shah Hussain, a law student who in May 2016 stabbed his class fellow, Khadija Siddiqui, 23 times in Lahore.
Last week, a three-judge SC bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa, had reversed the LHC verdict through a short order. The bench has now issued its detailed verdict which says the LHC ought to have been slow in interfering with concurrent findings recorded by the lower courts.
“We have noticed that some downright misreading of the evidence had been committed by the high court and for some of the reasons prevailing with it the high court had ignored many critical aspects of the case available in the evidence brought on the record.”
“The exercise of appreciation of evidence in this case by the high court has, thus, been found by us to be laconic and misreading and non-reading of the record by the high court has been found by us to have led the said court into a serious error of judgement occasioning failure of justice and clamouring for interference in the matter by this court,” says the 16-page verdict authored by the CJP.
The verdict says a judgement of acquittal suffering from serious misreading or non-reading of the evidence materially affecting the final outcome of the case is nothing short of being perverse and, hence, not immune from interference.
It says apart from that the high court ought to have appreciated that it was only seized of revision petitions and not an appeal and in exercise of its revisional jurisdiction the LHC ought to have confined itself to correctness, legality, regularity or propriety of the proceedings of the courts below rather than embarking upon a full-fledged reappraisal of the evidence, an exercise fit for appellate jurisdiction.
“In the case in hand the trial and appellate courts had undertaken an exhaustive analysis of the evidence available on the record and had then concurred in their conclusion regarding guilt of respondent No 1 having been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“In the absence of any error of law committed by the courts below and in the absence of any illegality, irregularity or impropriety committed by the courts below in the trial or hearing of the appeal the high court ought to have been slow in interfering with the concurrent findings of fact recorded by the courts below,” the court noted.
However, one section of lawyers is not satisfied with the reasoning given by the apex court regarding the restoration of conviction/ sentence of Shah Hussain.
A senior lawyer said the SC’s focus was more on pointing out errors in the LHC judegment and less on proof of ingredients of the offence alleged, adding that the case falls short of the standard of proof required to be discharged by the prosecution in criminal cases involving Chapter XVI offences in PPC.
He said such departures from conventional jurisprudence developed by the court are seen in high media value cases. The judgement also says the LHC had observed that the motive set up by the prosecution had not been proved by it because on the one hand Khadija had said she refused to marry Hussain but on the other hand she wrote him a letter that showed she was quite willing and eager to marry him.
“The High Court had failed to read that portion of the statement of Khadija Siddiqui wherein she had explained that she was being harassed by respondent No 1 (Hussain) and she wanted to complain against him to her mother and, therefore, an attempt was made by respondent No 1 to silence her.”