ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgment on the legality of the procedure adopted by the military authorities to enhance the sentence of two civilians, convicted for their role in the suicide attack on ex-president Pervez Musharraf, from life imprisonment to death penalty.

The matter had been raised through review petitions filed by Rana Naveed and Ameer Sohail. They were convicted and awarded life term and 20 years jail term, respectively, by a Field General Court Martial FGCM) on July 21 2005. But later the life term was converted into death sentence.

The bench that heard the petitions was headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

“It is against all principles of justice and fair trial to convert life term into death penalty by an army court of appeal without informing the convicts and adhering to the relevant procedure laid down in the law,” said the CJP.

Earlier their petitions, along with three others, challenging the conviction by the army trial court were set aside by the apex court saying the constitution had put a bar under article 199(3) to decide the cases involving army laws.

Hearing the review, the bench observed that despite the bar the SC could examine whether the due procedure of law was being construed or not under Article 4 of the Constitution.

Hearing the petitions of Rana Naveed and Ameer Sohail, the bench observed that their sentences were enhanced by the army court of appeal as Ameer did not file any appeal and Rana filed a delayed appeal for acquittal.

“Were the convicts informed that their sentence was going to be enhanced and were the convicts present in court when the order was issued”, the chief justice asked advocate Mujeeb ur Rehman, who represented the Ministry of Defence.

The defence ministry lawyer could not satisfy the bench as it was not clear from the available record whether or not the convicts were present before the appellant court when their sentence was enhanced.

It was on Wednesday when the bench had raised eyebrows over the procedure adopted by the FGCM. The bench tried to ascertain  the date of the conviction and whether or not the appeal had been filed within the time of 40 days.