SC Reserves Ruling On Five Appeals Against Convictions By Military Courts
The Supreme Court has reserved its ruling on a set of five appeals filed to challenge convictions by military courts, two of them against death sentences in the Dec 16, 2014, Army Public School (APS) massacre.
A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali also summoned trial record in another set of four cases with a directive that the record be made available to the counsel representing the petitioners in the office of the attorney general but in the presence of a responsible military official. These cases would be taken up again.
The court also stayed the execution of Qari Zubair Mohammad on a petition moved by his father Sakhi Mohammad. It issued notices to Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf and the special prosecutor who had conducted the trial and summoned trial record of the case.
The accused was picked up by security agencies from his house for his alleged involvement in 2009 Nowshera cantonment mosque bomb blast. Members of his family had filed an application with the Commission on Inquiry of Enforced Disappearance on the directive of which an FIR was lodged against the responsible police officers in 2012.
The petitioners have pleaded before the court that non-provision of the case record during the trials was a violation of Article 4 (right of individuals to be dealt with in accordance with law) and 10 A (right to fair trial) of the Constitution, and an instance of violation of fundamental rights as guaranteed under the Constitution as well as natural law.
The special bench of the Supreme Court had taken up a set of 17 appeals against the Peshawar High Court’s judgments of different dates to consider whether military courts had awarded convictions after conducting a fair trial.
During the proceedings, the Chief Justice said he wondered from where evidence against those nabbed by security agencies in encounters in the border areas would come other than army officers, and acknowledged that in most of the cases, evidence of five to six witnesses was on the record.
The convicts on whose appeals the judgment was reserved by the bench are Haider Ali, Qari Zahir Gul, Atiqur Rehman, Taj Mohammad alias Rizwan and Faez Zaman Khan.
Previously published in DAWN and republished here with permission.