Zafar Iqbal alias Zafarullah Khan v State (2017 SCMR 1721)

The death penalty should not be awarded where there is a lack of premeditation and motive is unproven. The Supreme Court considers a single shot fired as evidence of lack of premeditation.

Zafar Iqbal was convicted under Section 302(b) of the PPC and sentenced to death by the trial court for murder. Brief facts of the case are that, while injured, the deceased gave a statement of events that was corroborated by three witnesses. His cattle had entered Zafar Iqbal’s field while they were grazing. When the deceased proceeded to round up the cattle, Zafar Iqbal appeared and began to hit him with a stick. When the deceased retaliated by abusing him, Zafar retrieved his gun and fired at him. At trial, Zafar admitted to firing the shot, but pleaded self-defence. However, he did not produce evidence to support this, nor did he state this under oath to establish his plea. The trial court accepted the evidence and statement of the complainant and the witnesses, convicting Zafar Iqbal and sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Lahore High Court upheld this conviction and sentence.

However, when the case proceeded to the Supreme Court, it found that there was no motive to kill, as the incident had occurred in the “spur of the moment due to sudden provocation without any pre-planning and pre-mediation”, with a “single shot fired”.1 The apex Court maintained Zafar’s’s conviction but commuted his sentence to life imprisonment with the benefit of Section 382-B of the CrPC, plus a fine.