Nazim Jokhio Case: Murder or Terrorism? ATC rules verdict

According to media reports, an anti-terrorism court on Monday declared that the murder of Nazim Jokhio was ‘not an act of terrorism’. The ATC-XV judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, pronounced his order on the charge sheet after hearing arguments from the state prosecutor, counsel for complainant Afzal Jokhio, interned PPP lawmaker Jam Awais and his brother Jam Abul Karim and victim’s widow Shireen.

Police had already excluded the names of both the sitting Pakistan Peoples Party lawmakers from the list of accused, as the investigating officer had only charge-sheeted their two servants, Haider Ali and Meer Ali, for murdering Nazim Jokhio, intimidating his family, and terrorism. The ATC-XV Judge returned the charge sheet and the record of the proceedings to the IO, directing him to submit the same before an ordinary magisterial court having jurisdiction.

What did the order on the charge sheet state?

The 10-page order written by the ATC judge stated:

Given the cited case law, it is well settled that the order passed by the judicial magistrate (Malir) for returning the case to the investigating officer to be produced before the administrative judge of the antiterrorism courts had no binding effect upon the incumbent court, which was at liberty to decide the question of taking cognizance or otherwise without being influenced from the order.

The court order further said:

The FIR and other evidence collected by the IO, Inspector Siraj Lashari, during the investigation showed that the foreigners being the guests of accused MPA Jam Awais, were hunting houbara bustard, and the victim and his brother stopped them from doing so, and the video they made annoyed the accused. He called Nazim at his residence and forced him to delete it from social media and tender an apology to the foreigners, but he refused to do so. In revenge thereof, Nazimuddin was brutally murdered, which amounts that the alleged incident took place in furtherance of private dispute and vendetta, without any design or purpose for spreading the terrorism, hence does not fall within the definition of terrorism and ambit of the Anti-Terrorism Court for trial.

The order concluded by stating:

Given the above discussion, the dispute between the parties transpires to be in furtherance of personal enmity and private vendetta. There is no design or purpose for the commission of offense mentioned in clause (b) or (C) of sub-section (1) of section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act; therefore, while relying upon the case mentioned above laws, taking cognizance is declined.

State Prosecutor argued otherwise

Earlier, state prosecutor Tahira Akhtar Depar argued that the additional district and sessions judge (ADJ) (Malir), while deciding the bail applications of some suspects, had wrongly assumed that the case was triable by the ATC. The prosecutor said:

Subsequently, the judicial magistrate (Malir), concerned not only being influenced by the ADJ’s order did not apply his judicial mind to the circumstances and facts of the case. Because of the magistrate’s Feb 8 order, the IO was left with no other option but to submit the charge sheet before the ATC. Otherwise, the elements of terrorism are missing in the case, which is even supported and reported by the legal opinion of the public prosecutor of the ATCs administrative judge.

She further argued:

The incumbent court was not bound by the JM’s order to take cognizance of the case for trial as the incumbent court shall form an independent view. I plead to return the charge sheet to the IO with direction to submit the same before the ordinary court having jurisdiction to deal with it following the law.

Interestingly, Advocate Shabeeh Ishrat Hussain for complainant Afzal Jokhio, Advocate Rehman Ghous for victim’s widow Shireen as well as counsel representing detained MPA Jam Awais, MNA Karim, and the IO supported the arguments advanced by the state prosecutor. Advocates Wazeer Hussain Khoso, Muzaffar Hussain Solangi, Raja Ali Wahid Kanwar, Sagheer Ahmed Abbasi, Barrister Ghulam Mustafa Mahesar, and others represented the PPP lawmakers, their guards, and servants.

What happened to Nazim Jokhio?

Nazim Jokhio was found tortured to death at the farmhouse of the PPP MPA in Malir on the 3rd of Nov 2021. Police informed a court on Wednesday that young Nazim Jokhio was tortured to death during alleged illegal detention at the farmhouse of Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Jam Awais.

A couple of foreigners were hunting the houbara bustard (the endangered bird) when Nazim filmed them while asking why. After making the video, Nazim recorded another one, this time stating clearly that he was receiving threats from influential persons who were hosting the foreign hunters.

According to his brother — Afzal Jokhio — he was summoned, along with Nazim, to the farmhouse of a local influential, PPP MPA Jam Owais Khan Jokhio, to be reprimanded for his publicity of the hunting party. When they arrived, Nazim was allegedly assaulted and detained, while Afzal was ordered to leave. Hours later, Afzal was summoned again to the farmhouse, this time to be told that Nazim had died. His body was later found at that farmhouse. An autopsy revealed severe torture marks spread over Nazim’s entire body, showing severe and sustained trauma, including his genital area.

A case was registered under Section 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Memon Goth police station on the complaint of the victim’s brother Afzal Jokhio.

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