ISLAMABAD: A lawyer who defended two convicts who were later executed despite pendency of their jail appeals intends to move an application before the Supreme Court demanding exemplary punishment to delinquents responsible for the offence.

“I will file the application before the Supreme Court either on Monday or Tuesday (Oct 24 – 25) demanding fixing of criminal liability against those guilty of showing dereliction of duty,” Advocate Aftab Ahmad Khan told Dawn.

“I intend to make secretaries of interior and the home department of Punjab and jail superintendents of Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur prisons respondents in the petition,” the counsel said.

Explaining further, he said when the jail appeals of convicts Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar were filed before the Supreme Court and taken up in which leave to appeal were granted on June 10, 2010, intimation must have been issued to these functionaries about the status of the case in the apex court.

Lawyer says death penalty implemented despite pendency of appeals

But these convicts were executed in the Bahawalpur central jail on Oct 12, 2015, after their mercy petitions were rejected by the president of Pakistan.

Ironically on Oct 6, 2016, a three-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Dost Muhammad Khan and Manzoor Ahmad Malik accepted the jail appeals of the convicts and set aside the May 26, 2009, upholding of conviction by the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench.

When asked how he came to know that the convicts had been hanged in the prison, Advocate Khan explained that after attending the Oct 6 Supreme Court hearing, he wrote two letters, one to the inmates congratulating them that they had been acquitted by the court, and the second to the family members of the convicts to inform them about the acquittal.

Finding no response from the convicts as well as from the family members, he got suspicious and called the jail superintendent of Rahim Yar Khan informing him about the court order, he said. But he was told by jail officers that the convicts had been shifted to the Bahawalpur prison and according to their information they had already been hanged.

The counsel then called the Bahawalpur central jail on Oct 17 but failing to get a proper answer he approached a friend — a government employee — who after verifying confirmed the execution of the two prisoners.

Now through a criminal miscellaneous application before the Supreme Court, the counsel resolved, he would ask the apex court to hold a detailed inquiry and depending upon the outcome of the probe award exemplary punishment to those found responsible for the offence as well as adequate compensation for the victims’ families.

Authored by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, the Oct 6 judgement of the Supreme Court had held that prosecution had miserably failed to prove its case against the appellants beyond reasonable doubt.

Therefore, the impugned judgements of the courts below are set aside, the appellants Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar were acquitted of the charges and both of them would be released forthwith, if not required to be detained in any other case.

Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar and their co-convict Ghulam Farid had filed criminal appeals before the high court challenging their May 4, 2005, convictions by the trial court for committing multiple murders. Ghulam Farid was acquitted of the charge of murder.

When the appeals were taken up by the Supreme Court on Oct 5, 2016, the court found its last order of 2010 of dismissing the appeals anomalous and decided to exercise its suo motu jurisdiction to review the 2010 order for reappraising the evidence and considering the question of sentence of the appellants on all the counts of the charge.

In the judgement, the Supreme Court observed that it was repellent to common sense that the accused who had already murdered and injured a number of persons, would let go two prosecution witnesses of a murder who could later appear as witnesses against them as has been done in this case.

In this backdrop, the judgement said, the testimony of the prosecution witness becomes highly doubtful and cannot be given any credence.

Published in Dawn October 23rd, 2016



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