Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pakistani Supreme Court is asked to review its own decision in 21st Amendment capital case

Asma Jehangir
Leading human rights lawyer Asma Jehangir and Col. (ret) Muhammad Akram have asked the Supreme Court of Pakistan to review its prior decision upholding the death sentences of civilian clients who were convicted by a military court. According to this report from The Nation:
The petitioners contended that the apex court did not take into consideration errors apparent on the face of the record. 
Asma Jehangir submitted that the top court judgment presumed guilt and has thus taken away the most basic guarantee of due process during trial even in the military courts and has travelled beyond 21st Amendment and Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act (PAAA), 2015. 
She said the PAAA 2015 and 21st Amendment are protected under the constitution that does not oust the application of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution, while trying the civilians in the military court. 
Asma stated that the august court did not address the argument that initially her client was arrested many years ago under Action (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations, 2002, which has been challenged as being ultra vires of the constitution. She said the case is partly heard and its adjudication was necessary before declaring the military trials of accused/convict as being without malice in law. 
The petitioner claimed the judgment has ignored the fact that record of the trial court was not disclosed to the counsels and was opposed vehemently before the august court as well. The record was only shown to the legal counsels after the intervention of the apex court and that too they were not allowed or permitted to take any notes of the records. 
The apex court judgment has overlooked the fact that even under rules 84, 85, 86 and 87 of Pakistan Army Act Rules 1954, a counsel is defined as a person to be properly qualified and is a legal practitioner authorised to practice with right of audience in a court of sessions in Pakistan. 
The petitioner also claimed that the apex court judgment ignored that the confession made (if at all) after many years of illegal detention and isolation was made under duress and was thus not made in voluntary manner.

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