After 19 years of prison time and criminal proceedings, on 6th October 2016 the Supreme Court of Pakistan finally exonerated a man of murder charges – two years after his death.
Mazhar Hussain was imprisoned for 19 years and was convicted of death sentence by the high court. He was penalized to death on charges of killing Manzoor Hussain’s brother Muhammad Ismail on 8th May 1997 in district Dhoke Ali Haider under the jurisdiction of Sihala Police Station, Islamabad.
In 2004, Additional Sessions Judge Ch. Asad Raza declared the death sentence of Mazhar under section 302 (b) of Pakistan Penal Code.
The originally innocent prisoner, Mazhar, challenged the decision of death sentence in the High Court, but all his efforts were wasted. He then filed an appeal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 16th September 2010 in hopes of getting justice.
Supreme Court assembled a bench of three members presided over by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa. After analyzing the case, the judges and committee members found conspicuous faults in the prosecution case.
Statements of complainants and witnesses Manzoor Hussain (brother of the victim) and Muhammad Akram (nephew of the victim) represented that both of them were present at the house, where murder took place, on the day of the killing regarding the Chehlum of Manzoor’s mother-in-law.Though, the judgement perceived that according to the record, there was no standing proof of any gathering at the place of murder regarding the holding of a Chehlum of Manzoor’s mother-in-law.
The court also argued that the medical evidence is also misleading and dubious. The witnesses claimed that the murder took place at 11:30 am on the day of the incident, while the post-mortem of the dead body of Ismail showed otherwise. According to the medical report, the victim was murdered at 03:15 pm on that day.
The court duly noted that the portion of the Post-mortem Examination Report regarding time of death of the body was left blank and that the documents sent by the police to the hospital, along with the dead body, also contained no information on the time of occurrence of murder.
According to the doctor, who directed the post-mortem of the victim, the time duration between the death and post-mortem was almost 15 hours, indicating that the murder had to had taken place around midnight. That means the night between 7th and 8th of May, 1997 and not mid-day at 11:30 am on 8th May, 1997 as claimed by witnesses.
The Supreme Court understood the ambiguities in the case and concluded that the prosecution case was not dealt properly. There was no independent justification available to the visual interpretation of the witnesses.
Supreme Court finally exonerated Mazhar from the murder charges but it was too late. He had already died in 2014 out of a cardiac arrest. The jail authorities were legally responsible to inform the court about the prisoner’s death, since they did not fulfill their duty, the Supreme Court kept carrying out hearings for the last two years. Supreme Court is now questioning the verdict responsible for Mazhar’s life long imprisonment.