Abdul Rehman and 2 others v. The State (2010 SCMR 1758)

The death penalty should not be awarded where the role played by the accused is secondary and minor.

Abdul Rehman and Iqbal Shah were convicted under Section 302(b) of the PPC and Section 7 of the ATA and sentenced to death for the murder of two police constables and the injury of three other police constables while escaping police custody as under-trial prisoners and resisting lawful apprehension. Their co-accused, Karam Shah, was convicted under Section 302(b) read with Section 34 of the PPC for abetting the crime by providing firearms and chili powders to under-trial prisoners. Their appeals to the Lahore High Court were dismissed and their convictions and sentences were upheld.

The Supreme Court on appeal found that there was no unimpeachable evidence against Karam Shah. Medical evidence did not support the allegation that he had provided chili powder and the Investigating Officer had not recorded in his inspection note to have found chili powder in the van. While the under-trial prisoners used firearms in the commission of the crime, it was not established that Karam Shah supplied the firearms. Accordingly, Karam Shah was acquitted.

Regarding Iqbal Shah and Abdul Rehman, the Supreme Court determined that the treatment of Iqbal Shah at par with Abdul Rehman required reappraisal.

The Supreme Court was satisfied based on the evidence of four disinterested witnesses that Iqbal Shah’s involvement in the crime had been proved. However, he had not been found to have been armed, to have fired any weapons or to have had knowledge that for escape his co-accused would cause the death of the two police officers and injure three others. Accordingly, the Supreme Court held Iqbal Shah’s role to be secondary and minor, allowing for mitigation in sentencing. The Supreme Court converted Iqbal Shah’s death sentence to life imprisonment. On the other hand, the Supreme Court found no mitigating circumstances in favour of Abdul Rehman and dismissed the accused’s appeal.