A sessions court in Islamabad on Wednesday rejected an application seeking the constitution of a medical board to determine the mental health of Zahir Jaffer, the key accused in last year’s grisly murder of Noor Mukadam.
Mukadam, the daughter of a Pakistani diplomat, was found beheaded at a residence in Islamabad’s upscale F-7/4 neighborhood last July in a case that has sparked public outrage and grabbed media attention unlike any other recent crime against women. The key suspect, Zahir Jaffer, was arrested from the crime scene on the day of the murder.
Last month, Jaffer’s legal team filed an application in a sessions court requesting a medical board assess his mental health after Jaffer was expelled from the courtroom twice for disrupting trial hearings.
On one occasion, police officers had to carry Jaffer out of the courtroom building after he used indecent language and misbehaved with the judge. Islamabad police later also registered a criminal case against Jaffer for using “abusive language” and attempting suicide on the court premises.
During Wednesday’s hearing of the insanity plea filed by Jaffer’s legal team, prosecution and defense lawyers completed their arguments after which the judge had reserved the verdict.
"Yes, the court has rejected Zahir Jaffer's application [for formation of the medical board]," advocate Shah Khawar who is representing Noor Mukadam's family told Arab News.
During Wednesday’s hearing, key witnesses were cross-examined and CCTV footage of the events leading up to the murder was played.
“A complete sequence [of Jaffer’s appearances in the court] is available and the law is also clear on it, as to how the court can look into the unsoundness of mind [of an accused],” Khawar told the court during the hearing, adding that it was the responsibility of the court to observe the conduct of the suspect and decide whether he was mentally fit.
Khawar also submitted his written arguments in the court while requesting the court to dismiss Jaffer’s plea.
Public prosecutor Hasan Abbas also requested that the court reject Jaffer’s insanity plea, saying the accused had been the chief brand ambassador at a company owned by his family and was therefore mentally fit.
“How can an insane person do this job,” Abbas asked.
Abbas recalled a moment during the trial when charges were framed against Jaffer last year, saying the accused had read the charge sheet and objected to one of the clauses, asking why section 201 of Pakistan Penal Code — which relates to tampering with evidence and providing false information — was being applied against him.
“This means he [Jaffer] knew what is the meaning and definition of this section,” he said, saying the accused also signed the charge sheet.
All these events were contradictory to the accused’s plea for insanity, Abbas argued, and therefore the court should dismiss the application.
However, Jaffer’s counsel, advocate Sikandar Zulqarnain, said the application for the medical board was submitted after witnessing the client’s behavior during the course of the trial, referring to the two incidents when the key suspect was expelled from the courtroom.
The court will resume hearing the case on January 15.