Lawyers, civil society appreciate LHC ruling on honour killings
* FLAAS chairman says judgement not a ‘licence to kill’
* HRCP member says many similar cases yielded similar rulings in past
LAHORE: Legal experts and members of the Civil Society have cautiously appreciated a Lahore High Court (LHC) ruling declaring murder to protect a woman’s honour as ‘no crime’.
Two men who were accused of killing a man, who had tried to commit rape, were acquitted by the LHC on Thursday. The accused, Ghulam Nabi and his son Iftikhar, residents of a village in Daska, had murdered Yasin who had forcefully entered their house and tried to rape their female relative. Previously, the trial court had sentenced them both to 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of Rs 25,000 each.
Criminal law expert Advocate Aftab Bajwa told Daily Times that the order would help reduce the victimisation of women, adding that a similar decision had been made by the LHC in Ashiq Ali versus the state in 1972. He said Article 96, 97 and 100 of the Pakistan Penal Code also provided for the right to self-defence and the defence of one’s property.
Licence to kill: Free Legal Aid Assistance and Settlement (FLAAS) Chairman Advocate Anis AA Saadi appreciated the order and said criminals should be discouraged at every level. He said such judgements would discourage attackers in a society where incidents of sexual assault were increasing every day. He said murder was an inhuman act, but the right of self-defence must be present with the woman and her relatives. However, he said the case had presented a particular situation that was complex: the judgement must not be taken as a ‘licence’ to kill a man under the garb of honour.
Similar rulings: Representatives of the civil society said the case did not present anything new, adding that thorough investigations were necessary before the defence of self-defence was allowed.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) member Dr Mehdi Hassan told Daily Times the LHC ruling was not new and many such cases had yielded similar rulings in the past.
Proper procedure: Women Action Forum (WAF) convener Gulnar Tabassum said there was a proper procedure to establish self-defence. “If there is proper evidence, and the investigation is completed, then surely a person who murdered someone in self-defence can be declared innocent,” she said.
However, she maintained that it was the responsibility of the police to establish law and order, and citizens should not take the law into their own hands. ASR Resource Centre Executive Director Nighat Saeed Khan said murder in any situation was a crime, but there was an entire process to determine whether a person did it in self-defence.