ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has placed a stay on a trial court’s proceedings against renowned actress Atiqa Odho who was booked for possessing two bottles of wine in 2011.
A three-judge bench on Tuesday, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal, heard a civil petition filed by Atiqa Odho through her counsel Barrister Syed Ali Zafar praying that directions be issued to the trial court to decide her application for acquittal on its merits.
In June 2011, the actress was offloaded from a Karachi-bound plane at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport after Airport Security Force reportedly found two bottles of wine in her luggage. The case garnered media attention and a suo motu notice from the then chief justice.
Barrister Zafar told the court that Odho had been caught up in a false case as a result of suo motu action taken by the then Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry based on news reports at the time.
In these suo motu proceedings, directions had been issued to the relevant authorities to register an FIR against Odho for allegedly carrying banned liquor when travelling from Islamabad to Karachi.
The actress’s counsel Zafar further said that after the prosecution has concluded its evidence it is obvious that no case can be made against Odho and accordingly she is entitled to acquittal under the provisions of Section 265-K of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Zafar further told the top court that because of fear and pressure from the fact that the case was registered at the behest of the Supreme Court, no lower court has been willing to deal with Odho’s application. He said all lower courts approached had rejected her appeal for acquittal on the basis that the trial has not yet finished and the matter will be decided after closing of the defence’s evidence.
The lower courts should have disposed of Odho’s appeals on its merit, instead of postponing the verdict based on a technicality, he argued. The counsel then requested the apex court that the case be remanded to the trial court for a decision in accordance with the law.
After hearing Zafar’s arguments, the bench issued notices to the federation and also directed the trial court not to pass any orders till its decision of the case.
The civil petition will now be fixed for hearing in court after 10 days.
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