Zahir Jaffar, who was convicted for the murder of Noor Mukadam, has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Islamabad High Court’s decision to uphold his death sentence.
On July 20, 2021, Noor Mukadam, 27, was found murdered at Zahir’s residence in Islamabad’s upscale Sector F-7/4. A first information report (FIR) was registered the same day against Zahir, the primary accused, who was arrested from the site of the murder, under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the victim’s father, Shaukat Mukadam, a retired diplomat.
On February 24, 2022, an Islamabad sessions court sentenced Zahir Jaffar to death and awarded 10-year imprisonment to two co-accused, Mohammad Iftikhar and Jan Mohammad. Zahir’s parents and TherapyWorks personnel had been indicted by an Islamabad district and sessions court in October 2021 but were later acquitted by the sessions court when Zahir was sentenced.
Following the verdict, Zahir had approached the IHC in March 2022 challenging his death sentence. However, the IHC last month had not only upheld the death sentence but also converted Zahir’s 25-year jail term into another death penalty.
Zahir’s petition, filed with the SC on Sunday and available with Dawn.com, named the state and Noor’s father Shaukat as respondents. It requested the apex court to set aside the IHC’s verdict “in the interest of justice” and to acquit Zahir of his charges.
The plea argued that Zahir’s conviction resulted from “erroneous appreciation” of the case evidence and the high court and trial court could not identify the “fundamental flaws” in the FIR. It also argued that Shaukat could not be treated as the “first informant” of the incident since there was no clarity in the prosecution’s case regarding who informed first about the crime.
The petition added that the case was prejudiced against Zahir Jaffar because he could not effectively defend himself or join the criminal investigation. Zahir’s mental and psychological issues were not properly regarded, and no thorough investigation was carried out to rule out his mental fitness.
After a first information report was registered in the case and Zahir was arrested, his parents and household staff were also taken into custody by police on July 24, 2021, over allegations of “hiding evidence and being complicit in the crime”. They were made a part of the investigation based on Noor’s father’s statement.
In his complaint, Shaukat had stated that he had gone to Rawalpindi on July 19, 2021, to buy a goat for Eidul Azha, while his wife had gone out to pick up clothes from her tailor. When he had returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.
Police had subsequently taken the complainant to Zahir’s house in Sector F-7/4, where he discovered that his “daughter has been brutally murdered with a sharp-edged weapon and beheaded”, according to the FIR.
Shaukat, who identified his daughter’s body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.
Police later said that Zahir Jaffar had confessed to killing Noor, while his DNA test and fingerprints also showed his involvement in the murder.
Six officials of Therapy Works, whose employees had visited the site of the murder before police, were also nominated in the case and were indicted with six others, including Zahir Jaffar’s parents, in October 2021.