IHI resent split SC decision in Mai case
Calls for review petition for full bench hearing
Insani Huqooq Ittehad (IHI), an alliance of leading non government organizations working on human rights, Thursday called upon the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court for a full bench hearing to review the 21st April split decision in Mukharan Mai case.
A three member bench of the Supreme Court in its split judgment on 21st of April in panchayat ordered gang-rape case of Mukhtaran Mai acquitted all the accused with the exception of one.
The representatives from Aurat Foundation, Bedari, Pattan, PODA, Sungi, SPO and SDPI addressing a press conference were of the view that this decision needs to be reviewed because on similar evidences and case documents one judge has ordered for ten years imprisonment for all accused while the two judged decided to acquit them all except one. Naeem Mirza from Aurat Foundation, Dr Farzana Bari from Quaid-e-Azam University and Sarwar Bari from Pattan, Samina Nazeer from PODA, Samar Millah from Ethnomedia and others spoke on technical and cultural and gender aspects of the case. They said the superior judiciary should not have decided this cases only on the basis of weak police investigation and evidences as this case was not to decide on these factors as this relate to sanctity of women and a case of millions of women who will face odds at the hands of lower judiciary in such cases as they follow superior judiciary while deciding such cases.
In a press release it is said that, ”The Supreme Court’s judgment on 21st of April in panchayat-ordered gang-rape case of Mukhtaran Mai’s that acquitted all the accused with the exception of one, sent a shock wave to the width and breath of the country. The ruling of the SC in this infamous case clearly shows that our criminal justice system that is dominated by male judiciary with deep patriarchal biases, ridden with corruption, susceptible to political influence, rotten with inefficiency of investigation and prosecution processes is incapable of dispensing justice to the victims of rape and sexual violence.
The level of impunity this judgment has provided to rapists and the panchayat (parallel judicial system) have created a deep sense of insecurity and loss of faith in the state that could provide protection and justice to women against sexual abuse and violence.
The way SC judgment raises the issues of delay in lodging FIR, made frequent patriarchal speculations and assumptions in the detail judgment such as arguing that culturally it was not possible to believe that brothers could endanger the virtue of their sister by detaining her in a room with Shakoor (Mukhtaran’s brother) to save themselves from the accusation of sodomy shows that the understanding of our superior judiciary is completely divorced from the ground realities of our culture. They are blind to the fact that everyday women are bought and sold in the country by their brothers, fathers and husbands. They are exchanged in the name of local culture and tradition of walwar, vani to settle disputes amongst men. They are in denial of incest in our society where their own fathers and brothers at times rape women. The lack of gender sensitivity amongst our judges seems to be a structural issue that often colors their judgments in cases of violence against women.
The outrage shown by the people of Pakistan on SC judgment shows the clear divide in the sense of justice between the state and the society. It is felt by people that justice is not being carried out in this historic test case, which is going to have serious implication for women of Pakistan. The judgment shows that the impunity provided to rapist by the patriarchal state of Pakistan for more than twenty-seven year under Hudood Ordinance (1979) that required four Male Muslim Witnesses to award Hadd punishment has become a part of judicial culture now. Lack of conviction in rape cases despite Women Protection Act (2006) that removed the crime of rape from Hudood Ordinance and puts it back to Pakistan Penal Code is indicative of the continuing misogynist mindset of our judiciary.
The judgment highlights the serious flaws in our law as well as in our criminal justice system that is most obviously not geared to dispense justice to women victims of sexual violence. The inefficiency of investigation due to corruption and lack of access to modern technology such as DNA testing labs etc and the inability of the prosecution to gather sufficient evidence are some of the serious institutional issues that Mai’s case has brought to the fore. However, our question is why Mukhtaran has to pay for the inefficiency of the CJS?
We demand of the Government of Pakistan to file a Review Petition with the Supreme Court on behalf of women of Pakistan, Review must ensure a full and larger bench to hear review petition, Immediate initiation of judicial reforms starting with introducing amendment in the Evidence Act, Government should invest in modernization of CJS by establishing modern DNA labs, swab test laboratories etc, Strengthening the prosecution and investigation system, Removing corruption, forgery and use of political influence in the police, Purging judiciary and police with patriarchal biases by making it mandatory for judges and police officials to attend gender trainings and the gender performance should be included in their assessments for promotion and Appointment of women judges who are known for their understanding and work on human rights issues.”