Mukhtar Mai Case: Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Against LHC Verdict. What Now?

Posted on April 21, 2011
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Law & Justice, People, Women
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Adil Najam

This is a sad and difficult post to write.

Today, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave its verdict on Mukhtar (Mukhtaran) Mai’s appeal against an earlier verdict by the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The three-judge bench decided to uphold the LHC verdict. This means that the earlier decision will hold; of the six accused of Mukhtaran Mai’s gang rape, five are acquitted and a sixth will complete the life imprisonment that had already been awarded to him.

The exact wording and precise details of the judgment are not yet available, but here are the details as of now, as reported in Dawn:

ISLAMABAD: Upholding the Lahore High Court’s verdict, the Supreme Court’s three-judge bench acquitted five out of six suspects in the Mukhtaran Mai case on Thursday, DawnNews reported. However, the sixth suspect, Abdul Khalique will complete his life imprisonment sentence, the court stated in its verdict.

Speaking to journalists outside the Supreme Court, Mukhtaran Mai voiced a lack of confidence on the verdict and said that she that had lost faith in the judicial system. Human Rights organizations also condemned the release of the suspects in the Mukhtaran Mai case. When asked about a review of the Supreme Court’s verdict, Mukhtaran Mai said she would take a decision on the matter after conferring with her lawyers.

Mukhtaran Mai was represented by public prosecutor, Advocate Atizaz Hassan.

In the Mukhtaran Mai case, Police submitted a challan against 14 suspects in the Anti-Terrorism Court in July 2002. The court declared the death sentence to six suspects and released the other eight. After the verdict of the Anti-Terrorism Court was handed out, five suspects were released by the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench. Whereas, one suspect’s death sentence was changed to life imprisonment.

“I did not receive justice today, hence I have left my fate in the hands of God,” Mukhtaran Mai said while speaking to journalists from her house later. “The release of the suspects has put my life in grave danger,” she added.

We have written before about our respect for Mukhtar Mai, and how I have admired the grace and dignity under adversity that she has come to embody (here, here and here). I have detailed my own encounter with her and recounted how I saw this grace and dignity in practice. My view of her as a person and my dejection – certainly sadness, and even anger – at the decision of the three-judge bench cannot, therefore, be a surprise to anyone.

The verdict is not just a blow for Mukhtaran Mai (and the release of the accused could heighten the treats against her life) but it can and will be seen as another limp response to rape as a crime, a reflection of societal chauvinism, and a blow to womens’ rights in the country. Most importantly, the practical manifestation of the decision will be to deny closure to and to bring back into painful scrutiny the life of a woman who has already been through so much – too much – pain.

For all these reasons I am sad and angry at the decision. Of course, I realize that courts are meant to make decisions on the evidence available and the laws as stated (in principle, the system of justice works only if the idea that everyone – even the patently guilty – is innocent until proven guilty) and also that to accept the principle of an independent judiciary is also to accept the fact that the judiciary will sometimes make decisions that we will not like or agree with. Since I was not privy to the proceedings or to the details of the judgment from the three-judge bench, I do not know the legal minutia on which the judges made their decision. But, this is what I do know: I know that the social and political shadows of this decision will be deep and long – certainly for Mukhtaran Mai herself, but for all women, and for all of society in Pakistan.

For all these reasons, I believe that the next step has to be to go back to the courts. I hope that Mukhtaran Mai will not allow the case to die just yet. My understanding is that the three bench decision can still be appealed once before the full bench of the Supreme Court. I hope that Mukhtar and her legal team will do so.

I realize the emotional cost of such a decision on Mukhtaran, especially given just how long this case dragged in the Supreme Court the first time around. But I also know the importance of doing so, if only for advancing the judicial discourse on this important issue.

What happened to Mukhtaran Mai cannot be reversed, nor will society’s imbeded prejudices be over-turned by any one decision. But for those of us who believe that societal sanction for violence against women has to be over-turned, the battle for justice must go on; no matter how disheartened, sad or angry we may be at any one decision on any one day.

On the Twitter account in Mukhtar Mai’s name, a recent message read: “No court can weaken my resolve to stand against injustice.” I cannot agree with that sentiment more.

50 responses to “Mukhtar Mai Case: Supreme Court Rejects Appeal Against LHC Verdict. What Now?”

  1. readinglord says:

    “Na-Pakistan? where are the thekedars of namoos/e rasalat? what do they say about namoos’e insaan?”

    Who raised this great question about ‘Namoos-e-Insan’ – the human-beings who are called ‘Ashraf-ul-makhlooqat’? It is for the human beings that messengers were sent for their guidance, safety and well-being and not for their extermination as desired by the anti-human mullah.

    See what the Qurane Hakim said in this respect:

    “17:70 We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of our creation.

    Al-Isra [17:70]

    وَلَقَدْ كَرَّمْنَا بَنِي آدَمَ وَحَمَلْنَاهُمْ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ وَرَزَقْنَاهُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَفَضَّلْنَاهُمْ
    عَلَى كَثِيرٍ مِّمَّنْ خَلَقْنَا تَفْضِيلا”

    But the mullah have monopolized all this honour by calling themselves as ‘Ulemaa-e-karaam’.

  2. readinglord says:


    It is a war sir and all is fair in love and war. But this Dharna show is just a mockery relief interval during that horrible war where horrible carnage is going on between drone attacks and suicide bombers .

    As regards Mai’s case, it is indeed
    a media-cum-NGO fraud of the
    century. Just read the
    detail judgments of the
    superior courts. The victim
    in this drama, if any, were
    the Mastoies, over dozen of
    whom remained jailed for
    over nine years for
    no crime because of this
    fraudulent drama.

    One shudders at the callous
    -ness both of the judicial
    system and the so called women
    rights activists in this whole drama.

  3. mustafa says:

    Hmmmm… There are more sad and difficult stories to write about innocent people of tribal areas who are killed by american unmanned air strikes.

    I guess it’s non of your interest to cover a huge gathering of Pakistani’s in Peshawar for the sovereignty of Pakistan.

  4. readinglord says:

    What else one can one expect from a wakil about whom Akbar Allahabadi had rightly said:

    پیدا ہوا وکیل تو ابلیس نے کہا
    لو آج ھم بھی صاحب اولاد ہو گئے

    Wakil is least interested in justice. His interest is only in either winning the case or to keep it going on to extract as much money from his client as possible or to earn cheap publicity in high profile cases.

    Sorry to say, Adil Najam, and his Administrator has not done justice to the case either. They seems both also to be feministically Mai worshipers. Justice demands that in reply to the Press Release by the advocate for the appellant criticizing the judgment, a detailed judgement of the court in this case should also have been given.

    I am sure the truth shall come out one day that it was all a media and NGO fraud of the century.

  5. Moon says:

    I find this amusing accusing ATP forgetting Moin at the cost of Mukhtara Mai.

    Its too soon to pass such comments. Anyways to answer this an article on Moin is already posted

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