By Jamal Khurshid
The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday issued a fresh notice to former Punjab MPA Bilal Khar on a petition seeking the reopening of the Fakhra Younus acid- throwing case against him.
Khar, son of former Punjab governor Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, was acquitted by the district and sessions court (South) in December 2003 of charges of throwing acid on his estranged wife Younus after the prosecution failed to prove the case.
The prosecution had alleged that Khar had thrown acid on Younus on May 14, 2000, in the Napier area and fled. However, prosecution witnesses, including her brother-in-law, sister-in-law and mother-in-law Shahida Malik, had turned hostile during the trial and had not identified Khar as accused.
Younus, who was shifted to Italy for plastic surgery after the attack, committed suicide on March 17 this year.
The Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research and other rights activists submitted in the petition that Younus was denied justice as the trial court decided the acquittal application without recording her testimony in December 2003, which, they said, was unjust.
They to prayed to SHC to set aside the trial court’s order and ordered the reopening of the trial against Khar. They said parliament had made legislation on crime against women, especially acid-throwing incidents, and prayed to the court to remand back the case to the trial court.
In her last message before committing suicide, Younus had said she was committing suicide to protest the silence of law on the atrocities and the insensitivity of Pakistani rulers. Her burial took place in a graveyard in Defence.
After the suicide incident, Khar had said he had been proved innocent in the case years ago and if Younus had to commit suicide because of him, she would have done it 12 years ago. He had stated that the case was being politicised.
Cargo Company’s licence
The SHC restrained the customs authorities from suspending the licence of a goods transport company, which assailed the proposed suspension of its licence by the customs for alleged tempering with a cargo being sent to the US forces in Afghanistan.
Mansoor Ahmed submitted that his company was engaged by the US consulate general for the transportation of a cargo to the US forces in Afghanistan. He said his company sent two containers of imported articles to Afghanistan but they were intercepted by customs authorities in Peshawar on October 16 on the grounds that the alleged weight of the containers was less than the actual weight as per the list provided to them by the custom authorities.
The court heard that the customs authorities registered a case against him and the driver for violation of customs laws without assigning him any role of wrongdoing. Besides, the licence of the company was also proposed to be suspended without giving him the opportunity of being heard on the recommendation of the director custom intelligence, Peshawar.
The counsel for the petitioner, Hassan Sabir, submitted that the petitioner had been engaged by the US consulate general and the licence was not required for the transportation of the cargo meant for the US army in Afghanistan. He said that in terms of the shipment of the non-commercial cargo in transit to Afghanistan the entire liability of any wrongdoing was to be borne by the consulate, and that local authorities would be liable be pay taxes and other proceedings as envisaged under the Customs Act.
He prayed to the court to set aside the suspension of licence of the petitioner by the customs authorities as without lawful authority.
A division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, observed that the mere registration of an FIR could not deprive the petitioner of the right to perform business. The bench restrained the customs authorities from suspending the licence of the petitioner’s company.