Lahore: LHC accepts plea against CM’s acquittal in shootout case
LAHORE: A division bench of Lahore High Court on Tuesday admitted for regular hearing an appeal against the acquittal of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the Sabzazar shootout case. The bench also sent the case to the LHC chief justice to fix it before another bench. The bench sought record from the trial court on another appeal against the acquittal of police officials in the same case.
The bench condoned the delay in filing of the appeal when petitioner Khurshid Begum’s counsel submitted that her husband had died after become mentally unstable following the murder of their sons. She said the serious illness and subsequent death of her husband restrained her from approaching the court in time.
Kurshid Khanum, the mother of brothers Waseem and Rauf who had been killed in a fake police encounter, moved the appeal. On April 4, 1998, five young men were killed in a police encounter in the jurisdiction of the Sabzazar Police Station, and the FIR was registered against 12 persons, including Shahbaz Sharif, on March 29, 2001.
Applicant’s counsel Aftab Ahmad Bajwa submitted that the father of other three deceased had withdrawn charges against Shahbaz Sharif, but the applicant’s deceased husband never made such a statement, while the applicant had not pardoned the chief minister.
He said the trial court could not acquit the chief minister from the charges. He requested the court to set aside the chief minister’s acquittal order and issue directions to hold his trial.
According to the details of the case, on March 1, 2008, an anti–terrorism court (ATC) headed by Justice Shabbir Hussain Chattha had acquitted Shahbaz Sharif from the encounter case after complainant Saeeduddin and legal heirs of other deceased, Muhammad Aslam and Nazeer Ahmad, recorded their statements before the court that they had no objection over Shahbaz’s acquittal.
The complainant had alleged that ASI Lala Roshan had raided his house on April 21, 1998, and took his son Salahuddin to the police station. He said the ASI had demanded Rs 5,000 for the release of his son, which he could not pay. He said the ASI then handed Salahuddin over to the Muslim Town SHO, who allegedly demanded Rs 200,000 for the release.
Saeeduddin added he came to know through a newspaper report that his son and four others – Wakeel, Waseem, Haider and Abdur Rauf – had been killed in a police encounter on April 27, 1998.
He alleged that Shahbaz Sharif had directed the police to kill his son. He said the police refused to register a case, so he approached the Lahore High Court, which directed the police to register the case.
The trial court had acquitted Shahbaz Sharif in the case on March 1, 2008, by accepting his acquittal application after the complainant had withdrawn charges against him.