LAHORE: Taking advantage of lacunae in laws, a man, who had killed his daughter to ‘save family honour’, was acquitted by a court recently after he pardoned himself and his accomplices — a son and a nephew. Interestingly, the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Amendment Bill) 2015 – which was recently passed by parliament – stipulates strict punishment for an honour crime convict even if a family member pardons him. According to the new law, judges are supposed to sentence an honour crime convict to life in prison, whether the victim’s immediate family pardons him/her or not.
However, critics say that the law still considers honour crime as a compoundable offence, where the complainant enters into a compromise and agrees to have the charges dropped against the accused.
While recording his statement in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Nadia Ikram Malik, the accused, Faqeer Muhammad, not only pardoned himself, but also his son and nephew who were his accomplices in the case.
The accused said in his statement: “The deceased, Kiran Bibi, was my real daughter. She was unmarried at the time of her murder. There are no other legal heirs of the deceased except her mother, Bushra Bibi, and me.
“I have forgiven the accused persons in the name of Almighty Allah, and have no objection to their acquittal. I also waive my right of Qisas (retribution) and Diyat (blood money).”
Faqeer Muhammad had shot dead his daughter and her alleged lover, Ghulam Abbas, ‘to save family honour’ in 2014. His son, Muhammad Illyas, and nephew, Muhammad Tahir, were also accused of abetting the double murders.
Abbas’ mother Azmat Bibi named the three accused in the FIR she had registered under Section 173. Later, the complainant moved an application, requesting that the court make the offence (the murder of her son) compoundable under Section 345 of CrPC.
The court allowed the application after which Azmat Bibi and her second son, Waqas Ali pardoned the accused, pleading that they had no objection to their acquittal, and also waived their right of Qisas and Diyat.
After the complaint cleared them, Faqeer and Bushra recorded their statements as legal heirs of the deceased girl, and forgave the accused. Following the development, an acquittal application was moved in the court under Section 265-K of the CrPC.
On the other hand, the prosecution had opposed the application, contending that it has ‘solid’ evidence against the accused. It therefore, pleaded the court that after dismissal of the application under Section 265-K, remaining prosecution evidence should be summoned.
On this the judge observed that the charge has become ‘groundless’ and “there is no chance of conviction at all, so the accused persons are acquitted”.
While commenting on the acquittal, lawyers said it contravenes Section 317 of the PPC, adding no accused standing in the dock can forgive him/herself.
Advocate Muhammad Qasim said: “It is astonishing that an accused is forgiving himself for murder charges. It is nothing but a joke with law.” Advocate Aftab Bajwa said it is an irregularity committed by the judge.
Active lawyer Muhammad Azhar Siddique says new honour killing laws would not have retrospective effects; therefore, the offence is compoundable and a compromise can be entered.