Important records related to the Salmaan Taseer’s murder case mysteriously disappeared from the office of the attorney general (AG) in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) after the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri – Taseer’s self confessed killer – was fixed for hearing last week.
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Sources in the AG office told Dawn that after the case was fixed before the IHC division bench, they found that the file that contained Qadri’s appeal, his conviction order, police reports and important notes from the prosecutor was not in their records. Subsequently, at the last hearing of the case on Jan 27, prosecutors had no record related to this case. The law officer deputed to handle cases in Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s court had requested the bench to serve a notice on the AG to appoint a dedicated prosecutor for the Taseer’s murder case. When Dawn visited the record room where the file was supposedly kept, an official said that the case file “Criminal Appeal 90 of 2011” was present in the records when the case was heard in Oct 2011 and again in 2012. He said that someone probably took the file to study the case but did not return it to the record room. “We have been searching everywhere for the file but have not found it so far,” he said. Former deputy attorney general Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, who was dealing with this case in 2011 and 2012, told Dawn that the file was in the records while he was in office.
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“I had examined this file and had argued before the court in a couple of hearings on the basis of the relevant record,” he said. An incumbent deputy attorney general, on condition of anonymity, told Dawn that the file might have been mixed up with other case files. He said that the file would most probably be found, and even if it was not recovered, it could be reconstructed. An IHC official said that the file could be reconstructed with the help of judicial records. A separate file of this case is also present at the office of the superintendent of police. The prosecution, he said, can get photocopies of the record either from the judicial record or police file. He said the files in the IHC’s judicial record and the police version contained the FIR against Qadri, the police investigation report under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) commonly known as the challan, the chemical examiner’s report, a list of witnesses, a map of the crime scene, the autopsy report, details of case property and reports of forensic experts.
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According to him, these documents can be provided to the prosecutors on request. A law officer pointed out that if the file could not be traced or reconstructed before the next date of hearing on February 3, the case would likely be delayed as the prosecution would not be left with any option but to seek an adjournment. When contacted, Additional Attorney General Afnan Karim Kundi said he was out of office and could not respond to queries. Advocate general Islamabad Mian Abdul Rauf, who is most likely to prosecute Qadri when the case comes up for hearing, claimed that he had seen this file in the office of the additional attorney general. When asked whether the file had been forwarded to the AGI office, he replied that he had not received any files from the AG office so far.