The Islamabad High Court (IHC) fixed Tuesday, April 17 2018 for the announcement of the final verdict regarding the Tayyaba Torture Case. The judge presiding over the case was Justice Aamer Farooq. I was present in his courtroom, representing civil society along with Madam Tahira Abdullah, a human rights activist. Justice Aamer Farooq announced the final verdict of this case at 11am. The accused Raja Khurram Ali Khan was present in the court, along with his counsels and supporters — mostly lawyers from Islamabad and the Rawalpindi area — but the co-accused, Mst. Maheen Zafar was not present in the court, although she was present on the IHC premises. Justice Aamer Farooq read a short verbal order in the court and convicted Raja Khurram Ali Khan (former ADSJ) and his wife Maheen Zafar and sentenced them to imprisonment for one year, along with a fine of Rs 50,000 each under section 328-A of Pakistan Penal Code. Section 328-A of PPC says, “whoever wilfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or does an act of omission or commission, that results in or has, potential to harm or injure the child by causing physical or psychological injury to him shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than one year and may extend up to three years, or with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five thousand rupees and may extend up to fifty-thousand rupees, or with both” The judge however acquitted them in offences charged with under section 342, 506, 201, 337-A(i), 337-F(i) and 34 PPC The punishment — imprisonment for one year — which has been awarded to convicted persons, is a minimum extent of punishment as prescribed under section 328-A PPC and requires enhancement of the sentence. After the judgement was announced, the counsel of the convicted person Raja Khurram read section 426(2A) CrPC before the judge and prayed for suspension of sentence and grant of bail till the filing of appeal before the Appellate Court. The judge asked the defence counsel for filing of application for this purpose and adjourned the court for a tea break. At this moment, Madam Tahira Abdullah and I came out of the court, but the accused Raja Khurram did not leave the court premises and be present there with his counsels and supporters till he was granted bail and suspension of sentence from the same judge. Asma Jahangir took the initiative to file a human rights petition for this case in the Supreme Court, which subsequently took Suo Motu notice of it and ordered for its trial in the IHC. Hence, all credit goes to her At this stage, a huge number of lawyers including President, General Secretary of IHCBA, members/office bearers of IBC and other persons gathered inside and outside of the court of Justice Aamer Farooq in order to show solidarity with the convicted persons and to support their bail and suspension of sentence application. Meanwhile, the police and law enforcement agencies officials also reached outside the court of Justice Aamer in order to arrest the convicted persons, if their bail application was dismissed. After the tea break, the judge Justice Aamer called the counsels of convicted persons in his chamber to hear their bail application and fixed a time for it after the Division Bench proceedings. After this, at around 3 PM, Justice Aamer decided the bail application filed by the convicts. During the bail petition hearing, no member of the Prosecution team opposed the bail petition and didn’t even bother to be present in court during the bail arguments. The judge granted a seven day period bail to the convicts against surety bonds of Rs. 50,000, each, so that they could file an appeal before the Appellate Court against the order of conviction and obtain an order of Appellate Court pertaining to suspension of the execution of the sentence. In this case, evidence of three different sets of prosecution witnesses was recorded. The first set of prosecution witnesses were private witnesses. One of them was a victim of the convicted herself. She was joined by the victim’s father, the convicted person’s neighbours and one of their other domestic servants. The second set of prosecution witnesses consisted of state witnesses. These were mostly police officials, investigation officers as well as an SHO and area magistrate of Industrial Area I-9 Islamabad Police Station. The third set of prosecution witnesses were medical officers of the PIMS hospital and head of medical board constituted upon the directions of the Honourable Supreme Court. The prosecution also presented the evidence given by some other witnesses, including the victim’s aunt ‘Phatani Bibi’, the victim’s mother ‘Nusrat Bibi’, who had passed away during the trial of this case, and a lady police constable. The prosecution has also declared one of its witnesses, the victim’s father, as a hostile witness. Altogether, the prosecution has recorded the evidence of its16 witnesses in this case. The prosecution has also tendered in evidence various documents and articles. On the other hand, the convicted persons tendered their statements under Section 342 CrPC and also produced documentary evidence by way of various orders, which were passed by convict Raja Khurram Ali Khan as Additional District and Sessions Judge. The court has dismissed the applications of convicts pertaining to summoning the Bahria Town records, FBR and Express News TV channel. They alleged in their applications that the owners of Bahria Town, Malik Riaz and his family members had paid off a prominent TV News channel in January and February 2017 to create media hype for this case. That is why the official Bahria Town and FBR records must be checked to see if these allegations are true. Asma Jahangir took the initiative to file a human rights petition for this case in the Supreme Court, which took Suo Motu notice of it and ordered for its trial in the IHC. Hence, all credit goes to her. This is a landmark historic judgment pertaining to the protection of child rights, ending domestic child labour and child abuse cases in Pakistan. Domestic Child labour has been strongly dejected. A message has been transmitted to the public at large that child labour and violence against children is an offence punishable under law. Rule of law has been strengthened and the perpetrators have been defeated. No matter how strong or influential one would be, supremacy of law demands that everyone receives equal treatment. The prosecution has also played a vital role in the conviction of accused persons. Although the prosecution has failed to prove all the charges levelled against convicts, they can prove them in appeals before the IHC division bench and subsequently to the Supreme Court. Civil Society’s petition relating to this case is also pending in the Supreme Court and would be consolidated and decided with the appeal proceedings of this case. The writer is a advocate High Court, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Published in Daily Times, April 24th 2018.