LHC summons responses from plaintiff, state
Abid Malhi, the prime suspect in the Lahore motorway rape case, has filed an appeal with the Lahore High Court against his sentencing handed down by an anti-terrorism court. It sentenced him to death and life imprisonment.
Malhi and Shafqat Bagga raped a woman in front of her three children on September 9, 2020. It took the police one month to arrest the prime suspect, and Shafqat Bagga surrendered.
Two appeals have been filed in the motorway rape case — one by the convict and the other by the state.
The prosecution’s appeal, on the other hand, says that the punishment handed to the convict is in accordance with the law. The ATC has overseen all the investigations and recorded statements from the complainant, witnesses, and the suspects.
“The convicts have failed to provide substantial evidence against the accusations. It is therefore requested by the court to approve the decision of the anti-terrorism court,” it added.
Malhi’s appeal has been filed under Section 25 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.
At the hearing on Tuesday, Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz issued notices to plaintiff Sardar Shehzad and the government summoning responses from them.
The ATC judge, on the other hand, sent a reference to the Lahore High Court to confirm the convicts’ death sentence. To back the verdict, Deputy Prosecutor General Punjab Muhammad Arshad Farooqi presented the record of the perpetrators during the proceeding.
At the last hearing, in March, the convicted men were handed the death sentence under Article 376, and life imprisonment under Section 365 A of the Pakistan Penal Code. They were sentenced to 14 years in prison separately.
During the trial, Malhi confessed to raping the woman twice, while Shafqat raped her once. They ran away after snatching Rs100,000 from her. The prosecution revealed that they found the DNA of the suspects from the crime site.
Qasim Arain, the defence lawyer, made the following arguments.
The woman, along with her children, was driving to Gujranwala when she ran out of fuel near Lahore’s Gujjarpura. She called 15 for help and was sitting in her vehicle when two men walked towards her car, broke her window, and made her park on the roadside. They then took her and the children to a nearby forest and raped her.
The case became the top Twitter trend the next day because of the victim-blaming remarks made by the former Lahore CCPO Umar Shaikh.
“The story is that this woman, if it is in your knowledge, left Defence at 12:30am for Gujranwala,” he said on Dunya News. “First, I am surprised that she, a mother of three children, chose to go without a driver. You left Defence, you [should] take the straight GT Road where there is population and go home.”
He later defended his statement by saying they were a “message” for people.
The case sparked outrage in the country. On September 12, men and women across Pakistan staged protests against the victim-blaming remarks and the police’s incompetence in the case.