SC puts Shahzeb Khan murder suspects on ECL

  • Issue instructions to airports across Pakistan, apex court directs authorities
Pakistan

KARACHI – The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued orders to put the names of suspects in Shahzeb Khan murder case on the Exit Control List on Saturday as it admitted the appeal of civil society activists.

During the hearing of the appeal at the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry, a three-member bench led by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar directed the government and interior ministry to place the names of suspects Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur, Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari on the ECL, effectively barring them from fleeing the country.

The petition was filed against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) retrial order and the top court also issued bailable arrest warrants for the suspects besides issuing notices to all the respondents in the case.

Members of civil society had approached the Supreme Court against the SHC ruling which set aside the death penalty for Shahrukh Jatoi and others convicted for the 2012 murder of Shahzeb.

The provincial court had ordered their retrial by a sessions court following which Shahrukh was granted bail.

Ten civil society activists – including Jibran Nasir, Jamshed Raza Mahmood, Afiya Shehrbano Zia, Naeem Sadiq, Nazim Fida Hussain Haji, Zulfiqar Shah, Aquila Ismail, Fahim Zaman Khan, and Naziha Syed Ali – had filed a criminal petition in the Supreme Court’s Karachi Registry challenging the SHC’s ruling which stated that the murder case did not fall within the jurisdiction of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The civil society members had pleaded in their petition that they had the legal standing to file the appeal as they were citizens of Karachi and reside in the same locality where the murder took place.

“The incident struck terror and created fear and panic among residents of the area” they stated in the petition, which, according to them, was filed as a public interest appeal on behalf of the people of Karachi, especially the people of Clifton and Defence, as well as the people of Pakistan, arguing that they were left in a state of shock and terror when the November 28 judgment was passed by the SHC.

The petitioner also accused the Sindh prosecutor general, the highest criminal law officer of flatly conceding to the setting aside of the June 7, 2013 ATC judgment arguing  “it is a sheer proof of the collusion between the murderers and public officers, especially in view of the past history” of this case.

It further stated that the SHC division bench’s order deviated from an earlier and binding judgment of May 15, 2013, which was issued by another divisional bench of SHC in the same case.

The petition argued that there were at least two eyewitnesses to the murder, meaning that overwhelming evidence against the murderers was available.

Shahrukh Jatoi’s Bail

Shahrukh Jatoi and three other accused in the Shahzeb Khan murder case were freed on bail in December after Aurangzeb Khan, the victim’s father, filed an affidavit in support of the convicts’ bail application in the court.

The complainant Aurangzeb Khan appealed to the court to not only release on bail the four men convicted of his son’s murder, but also requested that the case filed against them be dropped altogether.

District and Sessions Judge (South) Imdad Hussain Khoso allowed the bail pleas of Shahrukh, Siraj Talpur, his younger brother Nawab Sajjad Ali Talpur and their house servant Ghulam Murtaza Lashari against a surety bond of Rs500,000 each.

The applicants’ lawyers argued that the high court had recently removed a relevant section of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 from the case and sent it for retrial.

While submitting the affidavit, Shahzeb’s father DSP Aurangzeb Khan submitted that he and his family members had pardoned all the accused without any pressure, coercion or interest but “in the name of Allah” and waived the right of Qisas and Diyat.

The affidavit stated that the complainant also had no objection if the court granted them bail or acquitted them.

Shahzeb’s Murder

Shahzeb, the only son of a police officer was gunned down by Shahrukh Jatoi in a posh locality of Karachi on December 25, 2012.

An ATC in 2013 had awarded death sentences to Jatoi and Siraj Talpur for the murder of Shahzeb, while life sentences were awarded to Sajjad Ali Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari.