ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the execution of three men convicted by military courts for their involvement in the Army Public School attack.

The three men — Mohammad Zubair, Ali Rehman and Taj Mohammad — were convicted of facilitating and abetting the deadly attack in Dec 2014 that killed over 140, mostly children.

A two-member bench comprising Justice Dost Muhammad and Justice Qazi Faez Isa ordered a stay on the implementation of the military court decision.

The families of the convicts had challenged the military court verdict through petitions filed in the Peshawar High Court (PHC), however, after PHC dismissed the appeals, they moved the Supreme Court through Advocate Latif Afridi.

During the hearing, Afridi claimed that the high court did not even open the record and dismissed the appeals without hearing them.

The court issued notices to the attorney general and jail branch, and directed the former to explain the dismissal of the appeals.

The hearing was subsequently adjourned to Feb 16.

On Dec 2 last year, four terrorists involved in the APS massacre were hanged at a civil jail in Kohat. The hangings were the first executions of civilians convicted by Pakistan's military courts.

Military courts

Political parties had unanimously agreed over the issue of setting up military courts to tackle terrorism cases in the country following the gruesome attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, following which the Parliament passed the 21st constitutional amendment in Jan 2015 to set up the said courts.

President Mamnoon Hussain had also promulgated an ordinance further revising the recently amended Army Act to ostensibly aid the functioning of military courts by allowing for trials in camera, i.e without the presence of the public or the media, and over video link if necessary.

The Supreme Court in a majority ruling upheld the establishment of military courts in Pakistan.

Examine: Military courts: a wrong move

Petitions challenging the 21st amendment were dismissed in August this year in a majority 11-6 vote of the 17-member SC bench. Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Dost Muhammad announced the verdict.

In a 14-3 majority vote, petitions challenging the 18th amendment were also dismissed by the bench. Judges provided seven opinions and two additional notes on the ruling.

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