Muhammad Imran Asif v. State (2013 SCMR 782)

Where motive is unproven, and it is not clear who inflicted the fatal injuries the court should not award a capital sentence. If a young accused has acted under the direction of an elder, he should be shown leniency.

The accused was convicted under PPC section 302(b) and sentenced to death for murder. The accused’s father was convicted to life imprisonment for his role. The complainant alleged that the accused had quarreled with the deceased 6 weeks before the murder, and had nursed a grudge. The accused, along with several others, subsequently, after a chance meeting, chased down and publicly beat the deceased to death. The accused disputed this account, saying that he and his co-accused had acted in self-defence after the deceased had opened fire on them, following a confrontation over the deceased’s bad behaviour towards a female friend.

The Lahore High Court confirmed the conviction and sentence of the accused. However, two co-accused persons were acquitted, with a further accused still a fugitive of the law. The Supreme Court agreed with the High Court’s assessment that the alleged motive was not proved, as no details were given, nor could it be corroborated by the witness accounts.

The court also took into account that the accused was only 21 at the time of the killing, and had likely acted under the influence and direction of his father. The court stated: “There is evidence to suggest that appellant who at the time of occurrence was a young man of 21 years of age acted under the influence of his father Mubarak co-accused who stands acquitted. The latter had raised the ‘lalkara’ that Shahid deceased should be done to death whereafter the accused launched the attack.”1

The court further held that “even the nature of injuries caused by the [accused] could be yet another factor which would weigh qua the quantum of sentence”2, as he was not found to have inflicted any fatal injuries. The court considered the acquittal of two of the co-accused, who had also not inflicted fatal injuries, to be a relevant factor. Thus, the Supreme Court maintained the accused’s conviction, but commuted his sentence to life imprisonment with the benefit of Cr.P.C. section 382-B, plus fine.