‘Sufficient proof’ needed to withhold suspects

In Local
April 05, 2024



ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has ruled that evidence on the record was not sufficient to withhold the people allegedly involved in last year’s May 9 violence for an unlimited period as they were already in custody since the next day of the mayhem.

“The allegations levelled against the petitioners are general in nature.

Fortunately, none was injured in the incident nor admittedly any arm or ammunition was recovered from the possession of the petitioners,” read the order authored by Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail while granting bail to the five suspects in an attack on Rawalpindi’s Hamza Camp related to the May 9 unrest triggered by the first arrest of PTI founding chairman Imran Khan.

“The role of the petitioners with regard to commission of the offences requires a detailed enquiry and further probe, in order to fix their responsibility. Such fact can only be determined after recording of [the] evidence by the trial court,” it added.

A three-judge bench, led by Justice Mandokhail, on March 20 granted bail to the five suspects.
They were already denied bail from the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench.

Despite the granting of bail, these five suspects were rearrested under the 16 MPO (Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, 1960).

While hearing a suo motu case on Wednesday, the SC judges expressed serious concern over how their bail granting order was being undone.

It will be interesting to see what steps the SC will take to ensure the implementation of its order in this matter.

The court’s order that granted bail to the five May 9 suspects further read that the case required further investigation.

“On a tentative assessment, prima facie, the evidence on the record is not sufficient to withhold the petitioners for an unlimited period as they are already in custody since 10th May, 2023.”

Moreover, it was noted that as the bail had already been granted to some of the people involved in the May 9 violence, the petitioners were also entitled to it as a rule of consistency.

“Without further commenting upon merits of the case, the learned counsel for the petitioners have succeeded to make out a case for the grant of bail.”.

According to the facts of the case, the petitioners were nominated and arrested on May 10 on charges under sections 324, 353, 186, 440, 427, 341, 436, 147, 148, 149, 285 and 286 of the Pakistan Penal Code registered at Rawalpindi’s New Town police station.

An interim report under Section 173 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was submitted before the special judge at Rawalpindi’s Anti-Terrorism Court. At the ATC, Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and various other sections were subsequently added.

The petitioners applied for the grant of bail but it was turned down by the trial court on October 16, 2023.

Feeling aggrieved, the petitioners approached the Lahore High Court, but with no positive result. They later filed with pleas with the top court.

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