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ISLAMABAD: A lawyer who defended two convicts who were later executed despite pendency of their jail appeals moved a petition on Monday requesting the Supreme Court to take legal action against public servants responsible for the illegal act.

“The hanging of innocent persons amounts to killing of all human beings as ordained by God in the Holy Quran which contains orders and commands of the Creator,” said Advocate Aftab Ahmed Khan, who represented Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar, before the apex court in their jail appeals.

The counsel also asked the court to order payment of a heavy compensation to the legal heirs of the deceased who were convicted by the trial court as well as the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench for committing multiple murders.

Despite the grant of June 10, 2010 leave to appeal by the Supreme Court, the two convicts were executed in the Bahawalpur central jail on Oct 12, 2015, after their mercy petitions were rejected by the president of Pakistan.

Ironically, a three-judge Supreme Court bench consisting of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik on Oct 6, 2016 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.

In his fresh petition, the counsel named secretaries of the interior and home department Punjab, Sadiqabad additional sessions judge and superintendents of Rahimyar Khan and Bahawalpur district jails as respondents in his petition.

The counsel conceded about the absence of any law under court rules but argued the instant case of unprecedented nature, where the two convicts were hanged before the final decision of the apex court invites suo motu exercise of inherent power.

The petition contended that the sessions court judge, home secretary Punjab, interior secretary as well as the superintendent of jails had failed miserably to discharge official and sacred duty, the performance of which is mandated under Article 190 of the Constitution.

The necessary information of granting leave to appeal of June 16, 2010, by the Supreme Court, the petition argued, was given to the respondent executive authorities who were bound to wait for the final determination of the case before the appellants were sent to the gallows.

The petition said that it was highly unprecedented and deplorable that the capital punishment of the convicts was executed despite the knowledge of the pendency of their appeal before the apex court. It added that the right to life was a fundamental right under Article 9 of the Constitution which cannot be taken away without due process of law.

The act by the executive authorities, if condoned without taking departmental proceedings, the counsel said, would result in giving unbridled power.

“In other words the existence of the forums rendering justice stands nugatory which should not be permissible in a democratic set of the government”, he added.

According to the counsel, sending the appellants to the gallows was deplorable and cannot be excused on any hypothesis especially when the appellants were honourably acquitted by the Supreme Court on Oct 6, 2016, and were declared innocent as having committed no offence.

Published in Dawn October 25th, 2016