Youth murder case: Rangers` plea for return of arms, van dismissed
KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Monday dismissed two applications seeking release of weapons and a vehicle and production of the report of a joint investigation team in the Sarfraz Shah murder case. Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso of the ATC-I rejected the pleas after hearing arguments from both sides.
Six personnel of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, and a civilian have been charged with the killing of an unarmed youth, Sarfraz Shah, who was shot at and then left to die inside the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park within the remit of the Boat Basin police station on June 8.
Major Ashfaq Ahmed, who is an assistant judge advocate general, Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, filed one of the two applications under Section 516-A (order for custody and disposal of property pending trial in certain cases) of the criminal procedure code seeking return of six sub–machine guns and a van.
However, Special Public Prosecutor Mohammad Khan Buriro opposed the plea and argued that these articles were case property as cited in column No 5 of the charge-sheet.
Referring to the contention of the Rangers` lawyer about regular care and maintenance of these articles, he argued that this case would be disposed of speedily, as the Supreme Court had already directed the court to conclude the trial within 30 days and the hearing of the case was being held on a day-to-day basis.
He concluded that that the Rangers` plea had no merit and prayed for its dismissal. Earlier, the Rangers` lawyer contended that the six SMGs and the van seized by the police were not case property.
He maintained that these articles were the property of the Pakistan Rangers and were badly needed for the purpose of discharging their lawful duty.
He claimed that these weapons were very sophisticated and costly and required regular care and maintenance and could become rusty and deteriorate if not released.
The second application was moved by a defence lawyer under Section 94 (summons to produce document or other thing) of the CrPC.
He said that the Sindh government constituted a joint investigation team (JIT), headed by a DIG and comprising six members (from different intelligence agencies), to investigate the case. He contended that the government asked the JIT to submit its report in court within seven days, but the prosecution deliberately concealed the report.
He prayed to the court to direct the prosecutor to bring the JIT report on record. Opposing the plea, the special public prosecutor argued that the JIT report had no legal weight in any court of law because DIG Sultan Khawaja, who had been assigned the investigation of the case by the Supreme Court, did not mention it in the charge-sheet. Besides, JIT was not the part of the trial, he concluded. Meanwhile, the court also recorded the statement of a prosecution witness.
Sub-Inspector Abdul Haleem Kolachi deposed that accused Afsar Khan was arrested in his presence and he signed the memo as a witness, adding that he also witnessed the seizure of mobile phones of two accused and registers of Chhipa Welfare.
The witness was also cross-examined by the defence. The hearing was put off till Tuesday for evidence of further witnesses. The prosecution has so far examined eight witnesses in the case.
The accused were booked under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 36 (effect caused partly by act and partly by omission) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.