Noor Mukadam murder: Jail doctors declare Zahir Jaffer medically fit

A report issued by the doctors at Rawalpindi Central Jail Adiala declared Zahir Jaffer, primary accused in the Noor Mukadam murder case, medically “completely fit” on Thursday.

Additional Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani received the report at today’s hearing, where Zahir was brought by policemen on a stretcher.

The report stated that Zahir’s medical examination was conducted multiple times.

“The accused was also examined by a psychiatrist who declared that he is [mentally] fit,” the report added.

Junior lawyer Usman Riaz Gul, who had represented Zahir at the previous hearing in the absence of the accused’s counsel Advocate Sikandar Zulqarnain Saleem, had at the time requested court then to issue directives for the medical check-up of Zahir Jaffer, who was carried to the courtroom by policemen while sitting hunched over in a chair.

“The mental condition of the accused has worsened,” Gul had said, upon Zahir’s arrival.

Earlier, Akram Qureshi — counsel for Therapyworks owner Tahir Zahoor, a co-accused in the case — had informed the court that Zahir was not in a condition to be able to walk after the judge had taken notice of his absence.

Judge Rabbani had said at the time that he had written a letter to the jail authorities, directing them to get Zahir’s medical check-up done.

After he was brought to the courtroom on a stretcher from the bakhshi khana today, lawyer Sajjad Ahmed Bhatti — the counsel for gardener Jan Mohammad and gatekeeper Iftikhar, two of Zahir’s domestic staff indicted in the case — requested the judge to send Zahir back to the temporary lockup at the court.

“The accused’s condition is not good,” he said, praying the court to send him back to the bakhshi khana.

At that, Judge Rabbani explained that he did not want to summon the accused out of sympathy during the last hearing, but other lawyers had requested his presence in the courtroom.

He was referring to the previous hearing where Gul had drawn the judge’s attention to Zahir’s absence multiple times.

An application seeking the formation of a medical board to determine the state of Zahir’s mental health has already been dismissed by the court, which observed in its written order on the matter that the plea had been raised “just to get rid of criminal liability”.

The order, issued on January 6, stated that the plea was filed when the trial was nearing its end and the matter had not been raised before the court earlier.

“Facts and attending circumstances reveal that the accused is not suffering from mental illness [and] such afterthought plea has been raised just to get rid of criminal liability,” the order read.

At today’s hearing, Basharatullah Khan, the counsel for Zahir’s father and co-accused Zakir Jaffer, also conducted the cross-examination of investigating officer (IO) Abdul Sattar’s account of the case’s probe, which was recorded at the last hearing.

The court adjourned the hearing till January 24.

Case background

Noor, 27, was found murdered at a residence in the capital’s upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20. A first information report (FIR) was registered the same day against Zahir — who was arrested from the site of the murder — under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of the victim’s father, Shaukat Ali Mukadam, who is a retired Pakistani diplomat.

After the FIR was registered in the murder case, Zahir’s parents and household staff were arrested on July 24 over allegations of “hiding evidence and being complicit in the crime”. They were made a part of the investigation based on Noor’s father’s statement.

In his complaint, Shaukat had stated that he had gone to Rawalpindi on July 19 to buy a goat for Eidul Azha, while his wife had gone out to pick up clothes from her tailor. When he had returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.

They had found her cellphone number switched off and started a search for her. Sometime later, Noor had called her parents to inform them that she was traveling to Lahore with some friends and would return in a day or two, according to the FIR.

The complainant said he had later received a call from Zahir, whose family were their acquaintances. The suspect had informed Shaukat that Noor was not with him, the FIR said.

At around 10pm on July 20, the victim’s father had received a call from Kohsar police station, informing him that Noor had been murdered.

Police had subsequently taken the complainant to Zahir’s house in Sector F-7/4 where he discovered that his “daughter has been brutally murdered with a sharp-edged weapon and beheaded”, according to the FIR.

Shaukat, who identified his daughter’s body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.

Police later said that Zahir had confessed to killing Noor while his DNA test and fingerprints also showed his involvement in the murder.

Six officials of Therapy Works, whose employees had visited the site of the murder before police, were also nominated in the case and were indicted with six others, including Zahir Jaffer’s parents, in October.