ISLAMABAD, July 3: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday dismissed a petition filed against the presidential pardon to the gunman of property tycoon Malik Riaz.

The gunman was convicted by the anti-terrorism court for killing a rival of Malik Riaz in the parking of district courts on January 9, 2010.

IHC division bench comprising Justice Riaz Ahmed Khan and Justice Mohammad Azim Khan Afridi declared that the presidential pardon could not be challenged in the courts as the constitution has empowered him to remit the sentence of any convict.

The pardon to Riaz’s gunman Mohammad Basharat was challenged by advocates Chaudhry Mohammad Naeem Ali and Umar Khayam through their counsel Chaudhry Mohammad Ashraf.

According to the petition, following the presidential pardon to the convict Basharat on June 13, 2012, ministry of interior wrote a letter to the Punjab home secretary for his release.

Arguing his petition, advocate Ashraf adopted before the court that the pardon to Mohammad Basharat was illegal as he was charged under anti terrorism act (ATA) 1997 and the punishment under Article 21 of this act could not be remitted.

He said the remission had exposed the nexus of President Asif Ali Zardari and Malik Riaz. “The president has set a new precedence by setting free an ATC convict,” he added.

Defence counsels, however, told the court that president under article 45 of the constitution could remit the sentence of any convict.

They said the constitution did not bind president of getting approval from the federal cabinet or the prime minister before pardoning a convict as Article 48-1 empowered him to remit the sentence of any convict on the mercy application.

They said Section 21 of the ATA 1997 restrained the provincial government from pardoning a convict but there was no such bar existed for the president.

According to the defence counsels, after the conviction of Basharat, his wife submitted a mercy application to the president and Malik Riaz was not involved in the process.

It may be mentioned that the Supreme Court in 2009 had taken suo motu notice at the applications of different people against Malik Riaz alleging that the tycoon has illegally occupied their lands.

The matter was then remanded to the district sessions judge Islamabad for further inquiry.

On January 09, 2010 there has been inquiry proceedings going on at the sessions court of Islamabad when the aggrieved persons stopped Malik Riaz vehicle. Basharat, gunman of Malik Riaz, then opened indiscriminate fire at the other party that killed Hamid.FIR was lodged against Basharat under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the court of judge Malik Mohammad Akram Awan awarded him life imprisonment in 2011 and the convict was sent to Adiala jail.

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