Asks applicant Sabir Shah to approach appellate forum against his sentence.
The apex court on Friday halted the execution of a death row convict who was awarded capital punishment by a military court on September 2, 2015 for his involvement in sectarian killing.
The Supreme Court’s two-judge bench, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, asked the applicant, Sabir Shah, to avail appeal forum before the military court under Army Act 1952. The bench also observed that if the plea of the convict is rejected by the military court then he may approach a high court.
Sabir Shah, member of a proscribed organisation, was convicted for his involvement in the killing of a lawyer, Syed Arshad Ali, in Lahore.
The convict’s mother, Laila Bibi, challenged Sabir Shah’s death sentence through her counsel Dr Khalid Ranjha, stating in her petition that her son was a juvenile (under 18 years of age) and was not given the right to fair trial by the military court, which according to her, did not even inform him about the trial.
She said the family members were not allowed to meet Shah and that he had not been given a chance to engage a counsel to plead his case. She said it was through a press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on its website on September 2, 2015 that the petitioner and her family came to know that her son had been awarded death sentence.
She later filed a writ petition before the Lahore High Court (LHC), praying thereby to judicially review the judgment of conviction but the writ petition was dismissed.
The counsel requested the bench to issue a stay on the execution of his client’s death sentence, adding that the army chief General Raheel Sharif had confirmed his death sentence last week. The counsel said he was not provided the record of the military court’s proceedings.
“The non-supply of copy of judgment, deposition and other record of the case to a convicted person/appellant would be tantamount to denial of justice to him as he will not be in a position to furnish grounds to assail his conviction in appeal.
“Similarly, it is his basic right to be heard either in person or through his counsel by the appellate authority. Right of appeal being a substantive right, the denial of copy of judgment and of hearing in appeal would amount to denial of the substantive right,” said the petition.
During the hearing on Friday, the bench summoned Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt to apprise the court whether the convicted person had been executed or not.
Appearing before the bench, the AGP later told the bench that the convict was still alive. He said that the applicant might file appeal against the military court’s order. Upon this, the court asked him to approach the appellate forum concerned against his death sentence as it stopped the execution until the decision on his appeal by the appellate forum.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2015.