News regarding the acquittal of Shah Hussain, who had been convicted for brutally stabbing his class fellow, and law student, Khadija Siddiqi, 23 times, made headlines. This naturally led to a huge outcry around the country but in the end it made no difference at all. During an appeal hearing on June 4, Justice Sardar Ahmed Naeem of the Lahore High Court (LHC) acquitted Shah, citing lack of evidence. Last year, a magistrate sentenced Shah Hussain to seven years in prison but that decision was challenged in the session’s court. The court lowered his sentence to five years before the decision was again challenged in the LHC. However, LHC’s decision disappointed everyone as it set Shah free. The decision was more a grotesque violation of the trust the public puts into the judiciary. It favoured the ones that are in power, since the accused is the son of an influential lawyer, who is also a member of the Bar. It was beyond anyone’s imagination how such a criminal was able to walk scot free, despite the case being an open and shut one. The fact that someone accused of such a horrendous crime is able to get out of jail, while his victim continues to live with the trauma of the event, is unacceptable. We cannot imagine how Khadija must feel, knowing her attacker is still out there. Khadija’s lawyer Barrister Hassan Niazi, talked to the media about his strong suspicions that the investigation team deliberately misplaced the key video in the case, showing the actual attack. He further tweeted, “I decided to give one of the many reasons why this acquittal is a shock. I’ve attached Punjab Forensic Report of helmet recovered where Khadija was stabbed. It says 1) the blood on helmet is of Khadija 2) the DNA from swab inside the same helmet is of Shah Hussain”. The lawyer also revealed how Khadija was being threatened to back off the case by governor Punjab Raffique Rijwana. Soon after #Justice for Khadija started trending on Twitter and many people including media personalities came forward expressing their disbelief and demanded justice to be served, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took suo moto notice of the acquittal and summoned the case’s record at the apex court’s Lahore registry on Sunday (June 10), according to a press release issued by the Supreme Court. The stabbing of Khadija Siddiqui was, among other things, also a clear form of gender-based violence. Societal power dynamics had automatically placed Khadija at a disadvantage. The case is also similar to another high profile case in Pakistan where University student Shahzeb Khan was murdered and the accused Shahrukh Jatoi was acquitted. But for how long will this trend continue? Will no criminals and murderers from influential families ever be punished? Will they always be allowed to roam free as if nothing happened, after destroying the lives of their victims and their families? Now the onus is on the Supreme Court and Chief Justice of Pakistan to deliver justice, which the victimis owed. At the same time, the influence of social media in raising public opinion and invoking the concerned legal institutions to take action is undeniable. It is valuable as an effective medium for highlighting injustice in our society, with the case of Khadija Siddiqui becoming another great example of social media’s great influence. Indeed, it will be true justice if the criminal is sent back to prison to serve his original jail term. The top courts also need to question the concerned LHC judge for issuing such a controversial verdict Earlier today, a full judgment of the case was released by the High Court. The reasons explained by the court caused shock and disappointment among Khadija’s supporters, as the Judge argued that Khadija’s version of events were fabricated and could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Surprisingly, the LHC judge also entirely disregarded eyewitness accounts provided by the prosecution and instead focused on making personal attacks on Khadija’s character. The notice taken by the CJP is now the only ray of hope to the victim and her supporters. Activist Jibran Nasir has also made a suggestion to the CJP to put Shah Hussain’s name on the ECL while his case is being tried. It shows how offenders actually tend to escape accountability in Pakistan due to their influence, power and wealth. Sadly, our nation has become a “might is right” society where the powerful can go scot free even after committing the most barbaric crimes. It also gives an insight into the troubling failure of the system. Although CJP Saqib Nisar has taken suo motu notice in this case which must be appreciated, it also shows us that the system does not work for those who can’t draw up the same kind of publicity for their own problems. The menace of nepotism has seeped into every part of our society and the judiciary is not immune to this evil. Indeed, it will be true justice if the criminal is sent back to prison to serve his original jail term. The top courts also need to question the concerned LHC judge for issuing such a controversial verdict. Anyone providing special treatment to only the rich and powerful should be exposed. In fact, this case should be an example for all such future cases, proving that our courts can be impartial as well. The writer graduated with an LLB Hons, University of London International Program. Twitter @fizzaalik Published in Daily Times, June 13th 2018.