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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court held that wrongful acquittal or wrongful conviction is a breach of law and an abuse of process of the Court.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi ruled that in a kidnapping case.

The petitioner lodged an FIR on 13.07.2006 against unknown persons, under sections 365-A, 201, 34 PPC and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, at Police Station City Haroonabad, District Bahawalnagar, for the abduction of his nephew.

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It is the prosecution’s case that, during investigation the private respondents allegedly confessed before the investigating officer regarding abduction.

In identification parade in presence of a Magistrate, the petitioner’s witnesses identified the respondents as the persons, who received the ransom amount. It is also alleged that from Kamran (respondent No.4) and Muhammad Boota (respondent No.3), an amount of Rs 100,000/- and Rs 50,000/- was recovered from their respective houses.

The Trial Court convicted the respondents. However, in appeal the respondents were acquitted of the charge by the Lahore High Court (LHC). The prosecution then challenged the LHC verdict before the Supreme Court, which dismissed it.

The judgment authored by Justice Jamal noted that other than the identification parade and recovery of the amount, there is no other evidence to corroborate the contents of the FIR and statements of the complainant and his witnesses.

The Court said the basic duty of the judges is to protect the fundamental rights of every person, including a complainant and an accused, in all circumstances. They are under obligation to discharge their duties and perform their functions with open mind, without any influence or pressure, fear or favour, affection or ill-will, honestly, justly and to the best of their ability, by applying the Constitution and law in their true perspective, on the basis of facts and circumstances of each case.

There might be multiple reasons for wrong decision, but there should be no excuse for a Judge in delivering a judgment contrary to the law and facts. In any case, the judges must be aware of their judicial powers and must exercise them to reach a correct conclusion, in order to protect the fundamental rights of the people and to promote the interest of justice.

The judgment said; “It is obligatory upon the Trial Court to ensure constitutional guarantee of life, liberty, fair trial and due process enshrined in Articles 9 and 10A of the Constitution. Section 265-D of CrPC provides that the Trial Court should consider all the available material, whereafter, if it is of the opinion that there is ground for proceeding with the trial of the accused, it shall frame in writing a charge against the accused.

“If no charge could be framed or if charge is framed, but there is no probability of the accused being convicted of the charge on the basis of the material available on the record, the Trial Court has power under sections 265-K and 249-A, of CrPC, as the case may be, to acquit an accused at any stage of the case, either on its own motion or upon an application in this behalf filed by an accused after providing opportunity of hearing to all concerned.

Such power is mandatory in nature, which must be exercised judiciously in order to prevent the abuse of process of law and frivolous and malicious litigation, which will also result into curtailing the backlog.“

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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