The prime suspect in the murder of Noor Mukadam, Zahir Jaffer, has been formally charged for the crime by the Islamabad High Court on Thursday.
Besides Jaffer, two of the family's employees — Jamil and Jan Mohammad — were also indicted, along with the Chief Executive Officer of Therapy Works, Tahir Zahoor.
Additional sessions judge Atta Rabbani indicted a total of six individuals in the case and all the accused were brought to the court from Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail.
Meanwhile, the court has summoned the prosecution witnesses on October 20 and directed that the trial must be commenced immediately and be completed within two months.
Noor Mukadam, a 27-year-old woman, was raped and murdered with a sharp instrument on July 20 within the limits of the Kohsar police station in Islamabad. A case of murder was later registered at the same police station by Noor's father, former Pakistani ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam.
Zahir is the prime suspect in Noor Mukadam's murder case. The grisly murder, in which Mukadam was beheaded, took place on July 20 in Islamabad's F-7 area.
The Islamabad police had arrested suspect Zahir on the night of July 20 from his house where, according to Noor's parents, he killed her with a sharp instrument and severed her head.
The gruesome incident sparked a nationwide campaign seeking justice for her, with #JusticeforNoor becoming a top trend on Twitter.
Earlier, the IHC had rejected the bail pleas of Zahir's parents — Zakir Jaffer and Ismat Adamjee — in the Noor's murder case.
The IHC also ordered the trial court to complete the trial within eight weeks. IHC's Justice Aamer Farooq initially delivered a brief verdict. A detailed verdict was released later.
Zakir and Ismat had filed bail petitions in the Noor Mukadam murder case stating that they had nothing to do with Noor's murder, while the police challan presented in court said that if Zahir's parents had informed the police in time, Noor could have been saved.
In its detailed verdict, the IHC ruled that Zahir Jaffer's parents committed the crime of aiding and abetting Noor's murder.
The court said that Zahir's parents knew their son had taken Noor hostage and despite having this information, they did not share it with the police. The watchman had clearly stated that he had informed Zakir Jaffer, the court added.
The detailed judgment also refers to the decisions of the SC.
The SC has said that aiding and abetting murder is as serious a crime as murder, the IHC said, adding that aiding and abetting a crime can also be direct, for which there is sufficient factual evidence.
According to the Black's Law Dictionary, not doing one's duty is also aiding and abetting, the IHC verdict said.
Zahir, the court said, had said in his confessional statement that he had informed his father about Noor. Whether Zahir's statement is acceptable or not is to be decided by the trial court, the IHC said.
The parents of Zahir then approached the SC for bail.
The petition, filed in the apex court by Advocate Khawaja Harris on behalf of Zahir's parents, asks whether not reporting the "incident" counts as aiding the crime.
The text of the petition stated that the Islamabad High Court (IHC) wrongly reviewed Section 107 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The petition further stated that there is no evidence to suggest that Zahir's parents knew the intentions of their son and that their bail application cannot be dismissed on the basis of the statement of a co-accused.
The petition said that a complete challan of the case has not yet been presented in the trial court, while the high court went beyond its jurisdiction by directing to complete the trial in two months.
The petition filed in the SC further said that delivering a verdict in two months goes against the rights of the suspects and the principles of a transparent trial.
The police investigation in the Noor's murder case was one-sided and not impartial, the petition stated further. The defendants will not be able to defend themselves properly in prison, it argued, adding that it is very difficult for them to communicate with their lawyers in prison.