SC suspends PHC order for release of 196 military court convicts

By: News Desk      Published: 11:26 AM, 21 Jul, 2020
SC suspends PHC order for release of 196 military court convicts

The Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the Peshawar High Court’s order to release the 196 terrorists sentenced by the military courts and sought details of their cases from the federal government.

According to 24NewsHD TV channel, Justice Qazi Amin – who is part of the three-member bench hearing the matter – observed the terrorists were awarded sentences after trials in military courts. Every case has is its own facts and evidence, he remarked.

When asked the court whether the terrorists are still in jail, the additional attorney general replied in affirmative as he pleaded the case for suspending the high court’s judgment.

On July 10, the Peshawar High Court, which had earlier acquitted 196 people convicted for terrorism, ruled in its 426-page detailed judgment that the military courts had violated the Pakistan Army Act and rules by not providing the accused with the counsel of choice.

The two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar ruled that the convictions in those cases were made despite having no evidence of the accused’s involvement in terrorism and that they were based on malice in law and facts.

“The way all convicts have been proceeded right from their arrest from different parts of the country, in the custody of the agencies and landing them in the Internment Centres for months/ years, are not appreciated at all for the purpose of convictions,” the judgment read.

On June 16, the court had accepted 198 petitions filed mostly by close relatives of the military court convicts against the sentence of death or life imprisonment over different acts of terrorism.

Referring to the government’s objection that the court had no power of judicial review in such cases, the bench had also pointed to the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav case.

“Record suggests that the respondents/ Federal Government/Ministry of Interior while taking advantage of the said judgment for the purpose of judicial review, relied upon it in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, before the International Court of Justice and acknowledging judicial review powers of the High Court, The International Court of Justice directed the accused of that proceeding to avail the same remedy before judicial hierarchy, in Pakistan,” it added.

“Military authorities in the presence of the Constitution are neither prosecutors nor having any authority, whatsoever, to arrest a person directly from the settled area,” said the judges in their judgment.