Supreme Court rejects Mukhtar's 2011 review petition on technical grounds

The Supreme Court rejected a review petition filed against the acquittal of the accused in the Mukhtar Mai case.

A three-member bench of the apex court, under Justice Gulzar Ahmed’s stewardship, heard the review petition which the defendant, through her counsel Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, had filed against the suspects’ acquittal in May 2011.

According to the court order, the points raised in the application could not form the basis of a review petition.

“Only a mistake [or mistakes] in a ruling can be highlighted [for reconsideration] in a review petition,” Justice Ahmed observed.

He added that the points highlighted in the review petition would instead be considered in a separate case.

Mai had been gang-raped in June 2002 on the orders of a village council as a ‘punishment’ after her younger brother was accused of having illicit relations with a woman from a rival clan.

She had accused 14 men of being involved in the rape. In Aug 2002, an anti-terrorism court had sentenced six men to death — four for raping Mai and two for being part of that jirga. The remaining eight were released.

Later, the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench, on separate appeals, acquitted five of the convicts and converted the death sentence of Abdul Khaliq to life imprisonment.

Mai had subsequently challenged their acquittal in the top court. However, the court, in its April 2011 verdict, had rejected her appeal by a majority of two to one — much to the consternation of rights activists.

Mai, whose ordeal and struggle for justice has seen her become the voice of oppressed women, sought the constitution of a larger bench, instead of a three-judge bench.

In her review petition, Mai stated that the apex court’s verdict was a great miscarriage of justice because it stemmed from a misreading and non-reading of material evidence on file.

The counsel for Mai had argued today that, according to the ruling in the case, there was no sign of a wound on Mai’s body. However, he (the counsel) could show from the record that her body had borne torture marks.