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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Human Rights on Thursday expressed concern over the execution of two brothers when the Supreme Court was seized with their appeal and set aside their death penalty.

Though the case was not on its regular agenda, the committee demanded an inquiry and punishment to those responsible when PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar startled it with the information that brothers Ghulam Sarwar and Ghulam Qadir had been executed a year before the Supreme Court gave its verdict.

Senator Babar called it ‘an unconscionable and unpardonable murder by the state that must not be allowed to go unpunished’.

According to the senator, the two brothers were sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court’s Multan Bench in May 2009 in a murder case, which they appealed in the Supreme Court.

Early this month, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court accepted their appeal, set aside the Lahore High Court verdict and ordered their release.

No sooner the convictions were set aside, it transpired that the president of Pakistan had already rejected their mercy petitions and they were hanged in the Bahawalpur jail in October last year.

Senator Babar described the tragedy as an issue of grave miscarriage of justice and called for reforming the criminal justice system on the one hand and restoring moratorium on executions on the other.

“Hundreds have been awarded death penalty across the country and their appeals are in process. In order to prevent the fate of Ghulam brothers befalling others on the death row the moratorium on execution should be restored as the current system of capital punishment is reviewed,” he said.

The committee accepted his plea and demanded the government probe the matter and award exemplary punishment to those involved.

Senator Babar also raised the issue of mentally ill Imdad Ali whose appeal against conviction on ground of schizophrenia was rejected by the Supreme Court last week.

The apex court did not recognise schizophrenia as a mental illness, stating that it was curable, holding that a medically diagnosed schizophrenic patient could be executed.

Senator Babar said he was disappointed with the verdict because it enlarged the scope of death penalty.

He called for re-evaluating the relationship between criminality and illness and proposed special legislation to provide guidelines to the courts on the treatment of mentally ill offenders.

The Senate committee on human rights decided to approach the Presidency through the interior ministry for staying the execution of Imdad Ali.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2016