Rangers’ plea for returning murder weapon refused


A n anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday rejected two applications filed by the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) in the Sarfaraz Shah murder case.
The first application the return of articles seized from the crime spot by the local police was filed by the Pakistan Rangers (Sindh) while the other was moved by the defence counsel seeking the production of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT)’s report in the court.
ATC-I Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso dismissed the application seeking the return of Rangers’ property as the counsel remained absent from the court to defend their plea.
The application was filed by Major Ashfaq, representing Judge Advocate General (legal branch) of Rangers, submitting that the police have taken a machine gun, one submachine gun, four G-3 rifles and a van in their custody. “The articles seized by the police are the property of Rangers and are no longer required in the case; however if the court orders so, the Rangers will produce them before the court,” it stated.
It was stated that the weapons are sophisticated and expensive and need proper maintenance otherwise they could be damaged if they remain further as court property. The court was requested to hand over the seized items, as the Rangers need them due to the current law and order situation.
Prosecutor Muhammad Khan Buriro opposed the Rangers’ version and told the court that at this stage the property could not be handed over to the Rangers.
Similarly, the trial court rejected another application filed by the defence counsel. The court had earlier reserved its order after hearing the final arguments from both sides.
The application, under Section 94, had been filed by defence lawyer Shaukat Hayat on behalf of Shahid Zafar and Afzal Khan, submitting that the Sindh government through a notification on June 9 constituted a JIT headed by a DIG and comprising six members (from different intelligence agencies) to investigate the case. The JIT was initially headed by DIG Sanaullah Abbasi but the notification was amended the following day and subsequently DIG Sultan Khwaja replaced him.
During the last hearing, the defence lawyer argued that the government had asked the JIT to submit its report in the court within seven days but the prosecution has deliberately concealed the report. The counsel prayed to the court to direct the prosecutor to bring the JIT report on record.
Special public prosecutor Mohammad Khan Buriro had opposed the counsel’s plea and argued that copies of all relevant documents of this case had already been provided to the defence under Section 265-C of the CrPC.
He argued that the JIT report had no legal weight in any court of law because DIG Sultan Khwaja, who had been assigned the investigation of the case by the Supreme Court, did not mention the JIT in the charge-sheet.
Meanwhile, another prosecution witness, sub-inspector Abdul Haleem appeared before the court and recorded his statement on the main issue of the case. The court after hearing the statements of the witness adjourned hearing until today (Tuesday).
Rangers Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, constables Mohammad Tariq, Minthar Ali, Shahid Zafar, Mohammad Afzal and private contractor Afsar Khan were put on trial for murdering 22-year-old Sarfaraz Shah with common intention inside the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Clifton on June 8.
According to the prosecution, the deceased was killed in an extrajudicial killing by paramilitary personnel, accusing him of committing robbery.
The case was registered against the alleged accused by the Boat Basin police under sections 302, 34 and 36 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. A case (FIR 227/2011) under sections 302 and 34 PPC was lodged against the law enforcement agency personnel appearing in the video footage at the same police station on complaint of the victim’s brother Salik Shah. Later, Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 was also incorporated in the FIR.
SHC adjourns hearing on transfer plea until tomorrow: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday adjourned the hearing on an application filed by counsels on behalf of the Rangers personnel accused of murdering Sarfaraz Shah, seeking transfer of case from the special anti-terrorism court (ATC) to the sessions court until July 13 (tomorrow).
Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, who was heading the bench for case hearing, referred the application to Justice Muhammad Saeed Ather’s court and adjourned the hearing.
The application was filed by the accused Rangers Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman; Lance Naik Liaquat Ali; Constables Muhammad Tariq, Minthar Ali, Shahid Zafar and Muhammad Afzal; and a private contractor Afsar Khan, who are under trail for killing Sarfaraz Shah, 22, at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Clifton on June 8.
The applicants had challenged the ATC judgment whereby their prior plea to transfer the case from the special court of the ATC to the regular sessions court had been dismissed.
The application had stated that the ATC had no jurisdiction to try the case. Furthermore, the circumstances of the case had no nexus with the act of terrorism as defined under Section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. The counsels of the accused submitted that the act of individual law enforcement agencies’ personnel could not be termed as acts of terrorism as the video footage also showed that the Rangers personnel had no intention of killing Shah. The counsels submitted that the Rangers personnel could not be treated as terrorists. The ATC had rejected the same application on July 4.