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ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan has been asked to place the matter related to release of accused allegedly involved in the murder of Daniel Pearl before another bench of the apex court.

Advocate General for Sindh Salman Talibud Din, appearing before a three-member judge bench of the SC, which is hearing the appeals against the Sindh High Court (SHC)’s judgment, submitted that the Sindh government had filed a petition regarding preventive detention of the accused.

Justice Mushir Alam, who was heading the bench, told the AG Sindh that as they were hearing the appeals against the main judgment of the SHC, therefore, taking up that issue, at that stage, would prejudice the case.

The bench, therefore, referred the matter to the chief justice to place the application against the SHC’s release order before another bench.

Ahmed Omer Sheikh, Fahad Naseem and others accused on January 7 had filed an application under Order XXXIII Rule VI, Supreme Court Rules, 1980, to clarify the SC order dated 28-09-2020 regarding their release.

Senior Advocate Mehmood A Sheikh, counsel of the main accused (Omer Sheikh), contended that the case had been heard on different dates on after 07-10-2020 on daily basis, and no order on any of these dates was passed ‘to not to release the petitioners’.

The counsel submitted that the detention of the accused is on an erroneous assumption of an order of this august court to “not to release the petitioners” needs to be clarified and a direction may be issued accordingly.

The SHC on December 24, 2020 set aside the provincial government’s preventive detention order of four accused, which it had ordered eight months ago to set them free.

Despite the SHC order dated 24-12-2020, the chief secretary Government of Sindh, additional chief secretary Home Department, Sindh, senior superintendent Central Jail, Karachi, and senior superintendent Central Jail Sukkur refused to release the accused albeit the direction in the said order lapsed on 07-10-2020 and was never extended thereafter, submitted the counsel.

He informed that the senior superintendent Central Jail Karachi had in that regard sent a letter to apex court seeking instructions whether that Court has extended the detention of the accused.

During the proceeding, Mehmood A Sheikh argued that there was no evidence available on the record that his client ever met with Daniel Pearl.

It is a concocted and fabricated case.

The prosecution somehow wanted to link Ahmed Omer with this case, he added.

He said, “I honestly feel he [Daniel Pearl] will come sometime and say gentleman I am here you don’t need to proceed further.”

He contended that there were many loopholes and lacuna in the prosecution’s case, and cited the Supreme Court’s judgments to establish that where there was slightest doubt in the case the benefit of it went to the accused.

He said the prosecution case was full of loopholes and lacuna.

“For the last 17 years he [Omer Sheikh] is languishing in the jail and he is termed [an] international terrorist,” he said, and added the allegations of terrorism against Ahmed were coming from India only.

Mehmood Sheikh had completed the arguments on abduction, and informed the bench that now he would make submission on the murder issue.

Justice Yahya told him that instead of murder make submission on ransom, the admission and confession of the co-accused before the magistrate, and also on the letter written by Omer Sheikh.

The counsel contended that the letter was never produced before the SHC in 18 years.

However, Justice Yahya told him it’s a hand-written letter, which also carries the signature of the accused.

“What is your contention on this [letter]”, asked the judge.

But the counsel did not reply.

A division bench of the SHC, Karachi, on 2nd April 2020 acquitted the accused Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh, Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib, and Fahad Nasim.

It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, and Omer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with law and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.

Trial Court on 15-07-2002 had convicted Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh and awarded him death sentence, while Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim were given life imprisonment under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. The case was adjourned until today (Thursday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021