SC to take up Khadija Siddiqui's appeal against acquittal of Shah Hussain today

The Supreme Court will take up the appeal of Khadija Siddiqui ─ a law student who was stabbed 23 times in Lahore in 2016 ─ against the acquittal last year of her alleged attacker and fellow student, Shah Hussain.

Siddiqui alleged that she was attacked by Shah Hussain on May 3, 2016, near Shimla Hill where she, along with her driver, had gone to pick up her younger sister from school. Both the sisters were about to get into their car when a helmet-wearing Hussain allegedly attacked Siddiqui with a knife and stabbed her 23 times leaving her critically injured.

Khadija, who is currently studying law in the United Kingdom, arrived in Pakistan earlier this week. Justice Khosa, to whom the case was sent for hearing, fixed the date of hearing of the appeal for Jan 23 (today).

Case history

A judicial magistrate had on July 29, 2017, sentenced Hussain to seven-year imprisonment under Section 324 (attempted murder) of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), two years under Section 337A(i) (causing injuries), five years under Section 337A(ii), one year under Section 337F(i), three years under Section 337F(ii) and five years under Section 337F(iv).

However, a sessions court in March 2018 had commuted the rigorous imprisonment by two years awarded by the trial court to Hussain while setting aside the other minor penalties.

Hussain, the son of a senior LHC lawyer, then appealed against his conviction in the high court and was acquitted in June 2018. LHC Justice Sardar Ahmad Naeem in his detailed verdict had written: “The injured witness ordinarily is not disbelieved but the circumstances of this case forced me to disbelieve the injured prosecution witness.”

“I am satisfied that the prosecution has failed in its duty to prove the guilt of the appellant (Hussain) beyond reasonable shadow of doubt and the benefit of the doubt is always extended in favour of the accused.”

The judge observed that marks of injury on a witness are only an indication of his presence at a spot but not affirmative proof of credibility and truthfulness: “It is not a universal rule that each and every word coming from the mouth of injured person is truth.”

“Mere presence of injuries would not stamp that he is a truthful witness. His testimony is to be tested and appraised on the principles applied for appreciation of any other prosecution witness,” Justice Naeem had ruled.

Then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had taken notice of Hussain’s acquittal and forwarded the case to a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the new chief justice, for hearing. The appeal was accepted by the court a few days later.