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PHC rejects bail for man accused of whipping woman in public

Bureau Report 2022-05-09
PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has rejected bail plea of a suspected militant arrested on charges of whipping a woman in public over a decade ago in Swat district when Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat was running a parallel administration there.

A single-member bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Ijaz Khan observed that on tentative assessment of the available record, the petitioner named Mohammad Allwas connected with the commission of the offence.

The bench observed that the offence also fell within the prohibitory clause of section 497 of Code of Criminal Procedure and as such he was not entitled to the concession of bail.

`The record would reveal that the allegations levelled against the accused/petitioner are sensational in character and shocking to public morality as a pardanashin (veiled) lady was thrown out from her home and was dragged on road and was inflicted stripes,` the bench ruled in its detailed judgment.

The FIR of the occurrence was registered at Charbagh police station in Swat on November 30, 2010, under different provisions of Pakistan Penal Code including section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 121-A (wagingwar against state), 124-A (sedition), section 365 (kidnapping), 354-A (outraging modesty of a woman), section 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapons), 149 (punishment for every members of wrongful assembly) and section 337-L (punishment for hurt), and section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act.

The petitioner had been absconding after the alleged occurrence and was later declared a proclaimed offender by a court. The complainant in the FIR was the woman, who was allegedly administered the punishment of whipping by the militants after accusing her of having illicit relations with a man known to her family.

The complainant had stated that at the end of year 2008, some guests had come to their house for the purpose of having a meal. She stated that in the meanwhile, Taliban lead-ers Fazal Hadi, Maulvi Abdur Rehman, Mohammad Ali (the petitioner) and Roshan came there along with other unknown persons, who had muffled their faces, while being duly armed with firearms and inquired about the visit of guests to their house.

She claimed that accused persons levelled allegation of illicit relations against her with Zaman and she was takentoanearby schoolin Shoolgara where Mohammad Ali and Roshan hold her arms and legs, whereas Maulvi Abdur Rehman administered her 15 strips.

She alleged that thereafter she was brought by the accused persons to Ashar Banr road where she was also given 15 more strips. The complainant said in her report that the matter could not be reported to police in time due to fear and terrorof the militants as there was no writ of the state in Swat.

The bench in its order observed that section 354-A of PPC was having maximum punishment of death or imprisonment for life, therefore the said offence fell within the prohibitory clause of section 497 CrPC.

`The accused/petitioner remained absconder for almost 14 years, in respect of which no explanation is available on file. No doubt, bail to an accused could not be refused on the sole ground of absconding, but when the version of prosecution gets support from the other collected material/evidence it may be taken into consideration as a circumstance for declining bail,` the bench observed.

The petitioner`s counsel contended thathis clienthadleft the area due to disturbance and militancy, there-fore, he could not be deprived of bail on the ground of absconding.

He stated that two of the accused persons in the case Roshan and Abdul Halim were granted bail by the court as the complainant`s family entered into compromise with them, whereas another accused Fazal Hadi was earlier acquitted by the trial court.

It is worth mentioning that a video footage of whipping in public of a burqa-clad woman had emerged in April 2009. However, the then provincial government as well as Tehreek-i-Taliban Swat had claimed that the footage was not recent and was prior to signing of a peace deal between them in February 2009.

However, there is nothing on record to suggest that the present complainant was the one present in the said video footage.