Home Latest News Government to File Review Petition on Supreme Court’s Acquittal of Shahrukh Jatoi

Government to File Review Petition on Supreme Court’s Acquittal of Shahrukh Jatoi

In letter to apex court, Attorney General’s Office says petition will be filed in the interest of justice after detailed judgment has been issued

by Staff Report

Farooq Naeem—AFP

The Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday announced it will file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s acquittal of Shahrukh Jatoi, the primary accused in the murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan, stressing this was “in the interest of justice”.

According to a letter the AGP’s Office has sent to the apex court, it noted “with concern” the acquittal of Jatoi, stressing the position of the Attorney General had not been sought, as was standard practice in petitions related to matters of constitutional importance. Recalling that Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf had earlier contended that the accused in Shahzeb’s murder—Jatoi and his three accomplices—had “committed an act of egregious terrorism,” it said the Sindh High Court’s inclusion of anti-terrorism provisions in the case against the accused was in view of the Supreme Court’s own order.

“Subsequently, convictions of the accused were upheld in appeal by the Sindh High Court, following convictions duly handed down after close consideration of the evidence at trial,” it said, adding that even if the apex court had “arrived at an outcome outside of its own previous pronouncements relating to anti-terrorism offences, it was imperative for the attorney general’s assistance to be sought in cases related to “compromise.”

Reportedly, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court led by Justice Ijazul Ahsan acquitted Jatoi and his accomplices on the basis of them being “forgiven” by the family of the victim under Pakistan’s diyat (blood money) laws. The AGP’s Office said that even in such cases where forgiveness had been granted, “… the Attorney General’s assistance must regardless be sought as to the acceptance of compromise, the scope of fisad-fil-arz (causing mischief), and the particular circumstances of the instant case.”

The AGP Office’s letter concluded by informing the apex court that a review petition would filed against the Jatoi judgment, “pending issuance of detailed reasons, in the interest of justice.”

Under the diyat laws, the court can disregard compromise and still punish offenders for up to 14 years’ imprisonment. This clause has repeatedly been cited by legal experts as having been ignored by the court in its acquittal of Jatoi and his accomplices.

Shahzeb, 20, was shot dead on Dec. 24, 2012 while returning to his home in Karachi with his sister. Reportedly, he was killed after getting into a fight with one of Jatoi’s servants, who had verbally threatened and harassed the sister. Taking suo moto notice of the incident, which provoked widespread outrage, then-chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry directed police to take action, with the accused’s accomplices finally being arrested on Jan. 7, 2013. Jatoi had already fled to Dubai at the time, but was arrested upon his return to Pakistan.

The case was subsequently sent to an Anti-Terrorism Court, which sentenced Jatoi and his accomplice Siraj Ali Talpur to death in June 2013, while awarding life imprisonment to Siraj’s younger brother, Sajjad Ali Talpur, and domestic helper Ghulam Murtaza Lashari. That same year, Shahzeb’s parents issued a formal pardon for the convicts, which was approved by the Sindh High Court (SHC). In a statement, the parents had suggested they were acting under pressure, as they did not wish to spend their lives in “fear.” However, the death penalty was upheld because of the addition of terrorism charges to the case.

In 2017, the SHC set aside the death sentence of Jatoi and ordered retrial of the case. However, civil society representatives appealed the decision before the Supreme Court, which then cancelled the bails of the convicts and ordered them to be placed under arrest once more.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment