Haleem v. State (2017 SCMR 709)

Delay in filing an FIR and inconsistencies in witness testimony may create reasonable doubt.

Three of the accused were convicted and sentenced to death for murder under PPC 302, 148, 149 and 460.The Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence for two of the accused under PPC 396, while commuting the sentence to life imprisonment for one of the accused. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that the case record contained several discrepancies, and could not be used to uphold the death sentence. The Court noted that at the time of the incident, the complainant did not make any effort to inform the police and that an FIR was filed several hours after the investigating officer arrived at the scene. Additionally, the post-mortem was not conducted promptly, and evidence regarding the witness’ identification of the accused could not be relied upon, as the incident allegedly took place at night but no evidence of a light source was collected from the scene. The Court also noted that statements made by the witnesses directly contradicted the medical reports, as they claimed that the assailants fired the shot from a distance of about four karams (22 feet) but the blackening and burning around the margins of the wounds on the deceased indicated that the shot was fired from a very close range. Finally, the recovery of weapons from the accused was not legally consequential, as they did not match the crime empties retrieved from the scene. Taking into account the cumulative effect of these inconsistencies, the Court held that the prosecution failed to prove the accused’s involvement beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, the accused were acquitted of all charges.