LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday expressed dismay at the federal government and three ministries for seeking more time to file reports about Pakistani citizens on death row in Iranian jails.

Justice Shahid Waheed was hearing a petition moved by Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) seeking details of Pakistanis imprisoned in Iran and the actions taken by the government in order to get their death sentences reviewed under recently amended Iranian drug laws.

A deputy attorney general appeared and requested the court to allow some more time to file replies on behalf of the government and three ministries - foreign affairs, interior and overseas Pakistanis & human resource development.

The judge observed that the government should take the matter seriously as lives of many Pakistani citizens languishing in Iran’s jails were involved in it. The judge allowed last chance to the government and the ministries to submit their replies and list of Pakistanis on death row in Iran in two weeks.

The JPP through its counsel Barrister Sarah Belal stated that in January 2018, the Supreme Court of Iran announced that those sentenced to death for drug crimes would have their sentences commuted only if they apply for such a commutation.

She argued that the Pakistanis sentenced to death in Iran under previous standards faced imminent execution if applications for review were not filed on their behalf. She pointed out that the federal government had yet to submit a response to the petition which was filed by JPP four months ago.

The counsel said new Iranian drug laws entitled prisoners sentenced to death under previous standards to file reviews, however, the ministry of foreign affairs and Pakistan embassy in Tehran had not taken any steps to facilitate Pakistani prisoners.

She asked the court to direct the government to make immediate and forceful representations, as required by law, on behalf of Pakistani citizens on death row in Iran, to secure reviews of their death sentence under the new amendment and to ensure their extradition to Pakistan.

BAIL: The Lahore High Court granted on Tuesday post-arrest bail to a suspect involved in chopping off the male organ of a class nine student and depriving him of his eyesight.

Muhammad Waqar, alias Waqari, and others allegedly abducted Aesh Muhammad from his school in Raiwind, took him to some deserted place where they chopped off his male organ and wounded his eyes making him blind for life.

Advocate Usman Ali argued on behalf of the suspect that the allegations of the prosecution had been declared false in medical report of the alleged victim. Moreover, he said the suspect was juvenile at the time of the alleged occurrence. The counsel further argued that the trial court was supposed to conclude trial in four months, however, it failed to do so even after over one year.

He asked the court to release his client on bail as he was ready to furnish bail bonds to the satisfaction of the trial court. After hearing the arguments, Justice Syed Shahbaz Ali Rizvi granted bail to the suspect and directed him to deposit bail bonds of Rs200,000.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2018