ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Monday halted the death sentence of a convict, Muhammad Siddique, who was scheduled to be executed on February 7 (Thursday) at the Gujranwala Central Jail.

On the basis of Section 381 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), Siddique’s counsel Advocate Zulfiqar Bhutta had submitted a petition in the SC on Feb 2.

Advocate Bhutta told the court that a reconciliation had been reached between the convict and the legal heirs of the victims. He added that under Section 381, the death sentence can also be changed to life imprisonment.

Section 381 of the CrPC states: Execution of order passed under Section 376: When a sentence of death passed by a Court of Sessions submitted to the High Court for confirmation, such Court of Session shall, on receiving the order of confirmation or other order of the High Court thereon, cause such order to be carried into effect by issuing a warrant or taking such other steps as may be necessary: provided that the sentence of death shall not be executed if the heirs of the deceased pardon the convict or enter into a compromise with him even at the last moment before execution of the sentence.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Mushir Alam, halted the execution and sent a notice to the advocate general and prosecutor general of Punjab. The hearing of the case was adjourned until Feb 13.

Siddique was arrested in 1995 for the murder of three individuals — Muhammad Saleem, Salma Bibi and Saba Saleem — in Gujranwala. He was convicted in 2000 by judge Sheikh Liaqat Ali of a special court in Gujranwala.

Earlier on March 30, 2016, the then president Mamnoon Hussain had rejected the death row convict’s mercy appeal and his black warrants were issued, as per the petition submitted by his counsel.