ISLAMABAD - Supreme Court on Friday suspended the Peshawar High Court orders of acquitting at least 74 alleged terrorists, who were awarded sentences by military courts.

The alleged terrorists could not be released until the final judgment of Supreme Court.

The stay orders are granted on the appeal filed by Ministry of Defence challenging PHC verdict wherein the convictions handed down by military courts were set aside.

The military courts had convicted them on terrorism charges including suicide attacks and killing of law enforcement personnel and civilians.

In the appeals, the defence ministry contended that the accused were involved in terrorist activities.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed after hearing the preliminary arguments by Additional Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti suspended the PHC verdict till the final judgment of top court.

The top court ordered neither to execute the alleged terrorists nor release them. 

In PHC’s 173-page detailed judgment authored by Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth had directed the respondents including federal and provincial governments to free all the convicts and internees while sitting aside the convictions and sentences by military courts being based on malice in law and facts.

The detailed judgement of PHC had observed: “The way all convicts have been proceeded against right from their arrest in 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 detailed judgment had also rejected the confessional statements of convicts. It had also been observed in the PHC judgement that the entire judicial confessional statements recorded in Urdu were in one and the same handwriting and in one specific style.

It had further observed that the questions posed to all accused were one and the same with exactly the same answers.

“The perusal of entire record in each and every case would show that none of the convict was ever, by name mentioned or nominated in any of the report, so formulated or registered by the prosecution. In majority of the cases there is no FIR or any authentic report of the Pata/ Fata authorities in this respect,” the judgment observed.

“No one has deviated from the principle stand of the prosecution where under they are required to produce the evidence, recorded the confessional statement, except the grievance of private counsel nominated by the prosecution, etc. and finally the plead guilty statement.”

It was further observed that there was no witness to the occurrence of for the presence of convicts.

“All cases, in view of the above facts and figures are cases of no evidence, if the alleged confessional statements are subtracted, pulled out of the entire proceedings. The alleged confessional statement with no independent advice after months/ years of confinement with military and internment centres is a manufactured story obtained and subscribed one, totally reflecting the intention to fill in the blanks, by way of untraced cases.”

“We have before us the confessional statements of almost all the convicts and we appreciate with naked eye that all of them are recorded in one and the same handwriting. All these statements have thumb impressed by the accused/ convicts with no mention of identity card number, etc.