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SHC sets aside conviction of journalist in hate material case

By Our Staff Reporter 2020-04-09
KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday set aside the five-year imprisonment handed down to a journalist by a trial court in the case pertaining to possession of hate literature to foment religious disharmony.

An antiterrorism court had sentenced Nasrullah Khan Chaudhry to five years in prison in December and Nasrullah Khan, journalist associated with the Urdu-language daily Nai Baat, through his lawyer challenged the trial court order before the SHC.

Af ter hearing arguments and examining the record and proceedings of the case, the twojudge bench headed by Justice Abdul Maalik Gaddi allowed the appeal and overturned the conviction order of the trial court through a short order. The reasons will be recorded later.

Lawyer for the appellant advocate Mohammad Farooq contended that the judge-ment of the trial court was not in accordance with the basic principles of law and maintained that the Counter-Terrorism Department had kept the appellant in wrongful detention for three days and then framed him in the present case.

The counsel further argued that it was a case of no evidence and even the FIR was not in accordance with law. He asserted that the prosecution did not produce any evidence regarding the recovery of hate literature from the appellant and Section 11-W(i) of the AntiTerrorism Act was not applicable to the case and pleaded to set aside the conviction.

The additional prosecutor general argued that the prosecution proved its case and asked the court to uphold the trial court`s judgement.

He further contended that the appellant was associated with a banned militant organisation.

The ATC had handed down five-year imprisonment to him and imposed a fine underSection 11-W(i) (printing, publishing or disseminating any material to incite hatred or giving projection to any person convicted for a terrorist act or any proscribed organisation or an organisation placed under observation or anyone concerned in terrorism) and six-month term in sections 11-F(i) (a person is guilty of an of fence if he belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organization) of the ATA.

The prosecution maintained in the charge sheet that the senior journalist was arrested on Nov 11, 2018 in the Garden area and claimed that he was carrying some journals and booklets about Afghan jihad, Punjabi Taliban and other books which contained material for getting people instigated on religious grounds and creating religious disharmony as well as encouraging them for jihad.

It also alleged that the journalist had links with Khalid Mukshi, a leader of Al-Qaeda.

However, Mukshi was not named as an accused or absconder in the charge sheet.