PHC stays execution of man convicted by military court

Updated December 25, 2018

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On-member Peshawar High Court bench asks govt to respond to petition against conviction. — File photo
On-member Peshawar High Court bench asks govt to respond to petition against conviction. — File photo

PESHAWAR: A single-member Peshawar High Court bench on Monday temporarily stopped the execution of a militancy convict by suspending his death sentence awarded by a military court.

While issuing the stay order, Justice Mohammad Ayub Khan issued notices to the defence and interior ministries for responding to a petition filed by Ms Shehnaz against the recent conviction of her husband, Bashir Ahmad, by a military court on the charge of attacking the officers of law-enforcement agencies.

The court also sought records of the case declaring the next hearing will be fixed afterward.

Taimur Haider Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, quoted his client as claiming that her husband, a resident of Saro Kalae area in Shabqadar area of Charsadda, was taken away by the members of law-enforcement agencies from his house on Jan 26, 2010.

Asks govt to respond to petition against conviction

He claimed that the man’s whereabouts were not known to his family thereafter and that the police failed to trace him despite the registration of FIR on May 21, 2010.

The lawyer said the family members, including the petitioner, learned through national newspapers just last Saturday that the army chief had confirmed the death sentences awarded to different militancy convicts by military courts, including Bashir Ahmad.

He requested the court to suspend the sentence fearing his client’s husband will be executed soon.

The lawyer said the military courts were set up in 2015 after the passage of the Constitution (Twenty-First Amendment) Act for trying civilians involved in acts of terrorism on the name of religion.

He said in light of a recent judgment of the high court, the provisions related to military courts couldn’t be used with retrospective effect.

The lawyer wondered when the detainee was arrested in 2010, then how he could be tried in 2018 by a military court.

He added that the detainee should have been tried by an anti-terrorism court.

The Inter-Services Public Relations had released a news release on Dec 21 confirming the death sentences for 14 convicted militants by the army chief.

It had added that the convicts, including Bashir Ahmad, were members of a proscribed outfit and that they were involved in an attack against members of the law-enforcement agencies, which killed Subedar Awal Khan and Naik Azmatullah and injured another.

The ISPR claimed that they were also found in possession of fire-arms and explosives and had confessed their guilt before a judicial magistrate and during their respective trials.

On Oct 18, the Peshawar High Court had accepted 75 petitions of the people convicted of militancy by military courts, mostly those on death row, and acquitted them.

In the 175-page judgment, a bench headed by the Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had discarded the confessional statements of all convicts in those cases by elaborately discussing the flaws in them.

On Nov 2, the Supreme Court suspended the high court’s judgment during a hearing into an appeal by the defence ministry and issued a stay order against the release of the acquitted petitioners.

Published in Dawn, December 25th, 2018