Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday acquitted the five men sentenced to life-imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court for the murder of rights activist Perween Rahman in Karachi in 2013.
A two-member SHC bench, comprising Justice KK Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Ali Sangi, in the hearing today cited a ‘lack of evidence’ as it ordered the release of five men who had been accused in the murder or Perween Rahman, who was a social worker who fought against land-grabbing and worked towards the development of impoverished areas.
Nearly nine months ago, an ATC court had awarded life sentences to four men for shooting down Perween Rehman in her Orangi Town office in Karachi in 2013, and gave the fifth man a seven-year prison sentence. The accused included Abdul Raheem Swati, Ahmed Khan, Amjad Hussain Khan and Ayaz Swati, who were all sentenced to life imprisonment and Imran Swati, who was sent to jail for seven years.
The court during the hearing today commented that none of the accused were charged with ‘actually murdering’ Rahman, and instead had been accused of ‘planning, instigating and in effect abetting the murder’.
The judges also argued that the case did not fall in the jurisdiction of the ATC, as the motive was land-grabbing, not terror and fear-mongering. They said that keeping this in mind, the confession obtained from Rahim Swati which was recorded under Section 21 (H) of the Anti-Terrorism Act was inadmissible, as it should have been recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
Therefore the court said the accused were to be released, unless they were wanted in any other custody case.