PHC sus­pends death penalty awarded by mil­i­tary court

The Pak Banker - - NATIONAL -

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tues­day sus­pended the ex­e­cu­tion of a death-row pris­oner, who was sen­tenced to death by a mil­i­tary court af­ter he was found to be in­volved in ter­ror­ism.

Haider Ali, now 21 years old, was ar­rested by se­cu­rity forces in 2009, when he was 14 years old and a 10th grade stu­dent at the Malakand Public High School, Swat. "The Peshawar High Court has or­dered the mil­i­tary court to halt the ex­e­cu­tion of my client Haider Ali, who was awarded the death sen­tence by a mil­i­tary court on Au­gust 13," Aj­mal Khan, lawyer of the death row con­vict told AFP.

Ali's hang­ing was sus­pended af­ter his par­ents filed a pe­ti­tion in PHC, chal­leng­ing his death sen­tence. His par­ents main­tained in the pe­ti­tion that their son was ar­rested by se­cu­rity forces in 2009 on charges of ter­ror­ism, but they did not have any in­for­ma­tion about him af­ter the ar­rest. It was only re­cently, six years af­ter Ali's ar­rest, that they found out their son was im­pris­oned in a jail in Timer­gara, in Lower Dir dis­trict, and was sen­tenced to death by a mil­i­tary court, the par­ents said in the ap­pli­ca­tion. There­fore, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the mil­i­tary court's ver­dict should be im­me­di­ately stopped, the pe­ti­tion said.

An­nounc­ing the court's de­ci­sion on the pe­ti­tion, a two-judge bench of the PHC com­pris­ing Jus­tice Musar­rat Hi­lali and Jus­tice You­nis Theem or­dered to halt im­ple­men­ta­tion of the mil­i­tary court's ver­dict of Ali's death sen­tence un­til Septem­ber 8. The court sub­se­quently ad­journed the hear­ing while is­su­ing no­tices to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, de­fence sec­re­tary, home sec­re­tary, Gen­eral Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing Malakand and other con­cerned of­fi­cers.

A court of­fi­cial con­firmed de­tails of the case, say­ing Ali was listed as a miss­ing per­son and a pe­ti­tion for his re­cov­ery had been with the court for five years. Ear­lier on Satur­day, the Supreme Court of­fice de­clined to en­ter­tain a pe­ti­tion moved by Zahir Shah, the fa­ther of Haider Ali, in which he sought or­ders for the author­i­ties to pro­vide the record of the trial court pro­ceed­ings so that a proper ap­peal chal­leng­ing the judg­ment of the mil­i­tary court could be filed ei­ther be­fore the Supreme Court or the high court. Ad­vo­cate Zul­fikar Ahmed Bhutta filed the pe­ti­tion be­fore the Supreme Court on be­half of Mr Shah.

On Satur­day, the Supreme Court reg­is­trar re­turned the plea to the pe­ti­tioner on the grounds that he had not ap­proached the high court con­cerned or any other ap­pro­pri­ate fo­rum avail­able to him un­der the law for the same re­lief. The Par­lia­ment passed the 21st Amend­ment and the Pak­istan Army Act, 1952, to es­tab­lish the spe­cial courts af­ter the mas­sacre in the Army Public School, Peshawar, last year.

On April 16 the apex court had sus­pended ex­e­cu­tions of six mil­i­tants who were awarded death sen­tence by these mil­i­tary courts. Ear­lier in Au­gust, the Supreme Court in a ma­jor­ity rul­ing up­held the es­tab­lish­ment of mil­i­tary courts in Pak­istan. While dis­miss­ing pe­ti­tions chal­leng­ing the 21st amend­ments, a 17-judge full court of the Supreme Court, in a ma­jor­ity judg­ment, had reaf­firmed that any or­der passed, de­ci­sion taken or sen­tence awarded by the mil­i­tary courts will be sub­ject to 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.

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