SC to initiate crackdown against false testimonies


–Court acquits accused who served seven years in prison


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday started a crackdown against false testimonies while hearing a criminal appeal.

As a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Maqbool Baqar and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah heard a criminal appeal, the bench stressed upon the issue of false testimonies which resulted in a person serving a jail term of seven years.

As the court noted that false testimony had been presented, it summoned Muhammad Arshad, a witness and inquired why the court should not hold him responsible. Faisalabad city police office (CPO) was directed to make sure that the witness appears.

Then, the chief justice expressed his shock and disapproval that the trial court had decided to award the accused a death penalty on the basis of a false testimony, overruling a high court judgement of capital punishment. He pointed out that all other witnesses had said that they did not see him fire a weapon but the lower and high court based their decision on one person’s facts only.

Then, the CJP noted that a witness had falsified information and reported a “mild wound as a gunshot injury” and the prime witness in the case was brought by police. Hence, he argued, Arshad should be voluntarily imprisoned because of the manner he volunteered to be a witness.

The apex court then acquitted the accused after a seven-year prison term on the benefit of the doubt and CJP Khosa noted that the top court would now begin taking action against those who recorded false testimonies.

On January 31, while overturning a Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict, the chief justice had come down hard on the practice of recording false testimonies before courts, saying that it creates hurdles for courts.

“In other countries, people speak the truth and laws are debated but here, hurdles are created for courts,” he had complained.

Before assuming power, Justice Khosa had repeatedly said that all judges who handed sentences on false testimonies would be held accountable.

“False witnesses will soon be behind bars and the entire system will be back on the right track as soon as a couple of perjurers are sentenced to life in prison,” he had said while hinting at reforms in the criminal justice system.