The judicial reviews against the convictions of the military court has been clubbed for hearing and the Supreme Court of Pakistan will take up the cases in the third week of June. The appeals will be taken up by a five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Anwar Zaheer Jamali.
So far 17 judicial reviews have been instituted in the country’s top court challenging the death sentences awarded by military courts to different alleged terrorists mostly belonging to tribal areas.
The 17 petitioners include Bacha Laiqa, Anwar Bibi, Aliur Rehman, Nek Maro, Alaf Khan, Sakhi Muhammad, Sher Alam, Mashooqa Bibi, Javed Iqbal, Mohibullah, Fazal Ghaffar, Zarba Khela, Ajab Gul, Aqsan Mehboob, Khan Afsar Khan, Hafiz Muhammad Sadiq and Malik Muhammad Akram, who have challenged the convictions and military trials against their relatives.
Most of the judicial reviews against the sentences awarded by the military courts revolve around the grounds of denial of right of fair trial under Article-10A and coram-non-judice and malafidy.
Asma Jahangir, the country’s top lawyer and human rights activist, is representing six petitioners out of the total 17. According to her most of those, convicted by military courts, were denied the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 10A of the Constitution since they were not handed over copies of the
military court judgments, nor were given the opportunity of engaging a counsel to defend themselves.
The SC has already, through a verdict against a petition challenging the establishment of military court, declared that any order passed, decision taken or sentence awarded by the military courts would be subject to a judicial review by the high courts and the Supreme Court on the grounds of being coram non judice, without jurisdiction or suffering from mala fides, including malice in law.
A three judge bench headed by the CJP on Wednesday took up the petitions of three death row prisoners including Nasir Khan, Fateh Khan and Fazal Ghafar, wherein they challenged the penalty awarded by a military court.
Nasir Khan is alleged of affiliations with banned outfits in Swat. Similarly Fateh Khan is an alleged facilitator of Army Public School attackers. Likewise Fazal Ghaffar has been awarded a death sentence despite the fact that he surrendered before a law enforcement agency.
When the hearing started, Advocate Asma Jahangir appeared before the apex bench and informed that the counsels for petitioners looked into a ‘highly confidential’ record including military trial court proceedings at the office of the Attorney General of Pakistan.
She requested the court to allow her and other counsels of petitioners for ‘pen and notebook’ to note down the points in order to argue the case.
The apex bench ordered that all the decisions of military courts challenged in the SC be clubbed together
and fixed for the third week of June. The top court also directed the deputy attorney general to submit a complete record of the proceedings of trial courts before the bench. The apex court also extended a stay on the execution of the above mentioned death row prisoners.