KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday asked the lawyer for appellants and a deputy attorney general to advance their arguments on Sept 17 on the maintainability of appeals of convicts in the Safoora Goth bus carnage and murder of prominent social activist Sabeen Mahmud.

Tahir Minhas, Saad Aziz, Asadur Rehman, Mohammad Azhar Ishrat and Hafiz Nasir Ahmed, through their counsel, filed identical appeals challenging the death sentence handed down to them by a military court.

When the appeals came up for hearing before a two-judge bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha, the bench asked the appellants’ lawyer about his absence in the last hearing. He replied that the ministry of defence had not been filing comments for the last many hearings.

Pre-arrest bail of ex-minister Rauf Siddiqui extended in NAB reference

When the deputy attorney general (DAG) submitted that they brought the record on every hearing, the bench asked to provide the same to the lawyer for the appellants.

The DAG argued that the comments had been filed in the case of Saad Aziz and the same may be treated in the cases of remaining appellants as well.

He argued that the appeals were not maintainable and liable to be dismissed since the pleas of the convicts against the trial court order had already been dismissed by the appellant forum concerned.

However, the appellant side argued that they had not yet received the copy of the judgement handed down by the military court.

The bench adjourned the hearing till Sept 17 and directed the lawyer for appellants and the DAG to come prepared for arguments on the maintainability of the appeals.

The prosecution said that 47 people, including 18 women, of Shia Ismaili community were killed in an armed attack on their bus near Safoora Goth in May 2015.

Sabeen Mahmud, the social media campaigner and rights activist, was gunned down in April 2015 in Defence Housing Authority.

Bail extended in illegal appointments case

Another bench of the SHC on Friday extended interim pre-arrest bail of former provincial minister Rauf Siddiqui and others till Oct 8 in an illegal appointments reference.

The bench also discharged the bail applications of three other suspects after it was informed that they had not been named as accused in the reference.

A prosecutor of the National Accountability Bureau argued that the reference had been filed before an accountability court and Mr Siddiqui and eight others were nominated as accused.

NAB alleged that the former provincial minister for industries and commerce had made 372 illegal appointments during his tenure and caused a loss of Rs420 million to the exchequer.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019

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