LAHORE - The last week started with the order releasing suspects in stage actress Qismat Baig’s murder case and ended up with the dismissal of application of former Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in case of illegal appointments with Gujranwala Electric Supply Company at the lower courts.

In Qismat Baig case, a sessions court ordered release of five suspects of murder after “the witnesses refused to identify the suspects,”— a major prosecution evidence to prove the suspects guilty. 

Hina Baig alias Qismat Baig died in November last year after she was shot in the legs and chest by more than five gunmen. Police arrested the suspects from Gujranwala.  After the order, now it was the responsibility of the prosecution to prove the case.  However, the prosecution has the option of approaching the appellate court against the decision of the trial court as it did in Kanju’s case.

While hearing case about alleged illegal appointments with Gujranwala Electric Supply Company, a national accountability court dismissed the application of former premier Raja Pervez Ashraf in which he had requested provision of documents pertaining to the reference moved against him.

“The suspect (Ashraf) pleaded the court through his counsel that he had not been provided documents of the reference filed against him in illegal appointments case”. A NAB officer, however, opposed his application saying that he had already been provided necessary documents of the reference. At this, the court turned down his request. It may be mentioned here that application from the ex-premier came in at the moment when the court was preparing to frame charges against the suspects. Though, it is a fact that NAB does not file reference against any person without giving necessary documents to the suspects.

Raja Pervez Ashraf and many others had been facing charges of corruption and illegal appointments with the GEPCO.

During the week, the LHC summoned director medical devices of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) in petition against confiscation of cardiac stent. Feroze Sons Laboratories had moved the petition arguing that after the scandal of fake stents was unearthed, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) raided the lab at the behest of the DRAP and seized a huge of quantity of stents and other medical devices. He said the rules of the authority did not provide definition of medical devices.

Counsel of the DRAP told the court that definition of medical devices had been described in a circular issued by the authority. “However, he failed to furnish a copy of the circular before the court”.

Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah expressed dismay over the statement of the DRAP’s lawyer and observed that performance of every department was pathetic. He said every new case took up by the court narrated a new tale of the government’s poor performance.

The LHC also announced verdict about death penalty of three men convicted for facilitating suicide attack on Police Emergency Rescue Service-15. The court upheld the decision of the trial court and dismissed appeals of Abid Akram, Sarfraz and Shabbir.

The defence counsel argued that the convicts were already in custody of law enforcement agencies when the suicide attack took place on the police rescue building in 2009. He said the FIR of the incident was registered against unidentified suspects and the convicts were later implicated in the case.

The counsel argued that the prosecution failed to produce any direct evidence against the convicts. However, he said, the trial court awarded death sentence to each convict on 23 counts. He prayed to the court to set aside the conviction and acquit the convicts.

Opposing the appeals, a deputy public prosecutor argued that the convicts were the facilitators of the attack. He said Shahdara police had arrested the convicts on Dec 3, 2010 and during the interrogation they (convicts) confessed to their involvement in the rescue-15 suicide attack.

The prosecutor further stated that police had also recovered weapons from the custody of the convicts. He said the trial court had handed down the death penalty to the convicts in light of convincing evidence produced by the prosecution.

Also, the LHC reserved verdict on maintainability of a petition seeking inquiry into alleged Rs 10 billions’ offer made to PTI Chief Imran Khan by ruling Sharif family to remain silent on panamagate case.

Advocate Ghazi Ilamuddin filed the petition pleading that there had been a great anxiety among citizens of the country since Imran Khan disclosed the alleged offer made to him by the Sharif family.

He stated though the Sharif family had been denying the allegation, Mr. Khan insisted that a common friend made the offer of Rs 10 billion to him on behalf of Shahbaz Sharif and Hamza Shahbaz.

The petitioner said the nation wants to know the truth, therefore, the court should order an inquiry into the allegation of the alleged offer.

Besides this, the LHC issued notice to federal government and Pakistan Cricket Board on appeal moved by cricketer Khalid Latif against proceedings of Anti-Corruption Tribunal on spot-fixing charges against him.

Player Latif had filed appeal pleading that the PCB’s anti-corruption tribunal had no jurisdiction to investigate the spot-fixing charges. He said the tribunal constituted under the PCB anti-corruption code was illegal as the code had not been gazetted in the Pakistan gazette. He also assailed powers of the PCB chairman to constitute the tribunal. He said a LHC single bench dismissed his petition on the matter ignoring facts of the case.

The petitioner prayed to the court to set aside decision of the singe bench and the proceedings against him pending before the anti-corruption tribunal of the PCB.

Last week, the LHC also directed Punjab chief secretary to decide within three months a matter regarding posts of deputy prosecutors in the province lying vacant for long.

A lawyer had moved the petition and submitted that 45 out of 68 sanctioned posts of deputy prosecutors had been lying vacant for over a year. He said progress in cases pending before the courts came to a standstill due to unavailability of the deputy prosecutors.

The lawyer asked the court to order the government to fill the vacancies of the deputy prosecutors without further delay.

Justice Shujaat Ali Khan disposed of the petition and directed the chief secretary to resolve the matter within three months. The LHC directed the Punjab government to present copies of three notifications before the court which put sanctions on public meetings and  media coverage through drone cameras.

Justice Shams Mehmood Mirza of the LHC issued this order on a petition of Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf which termed these notifications as illegal and unconstitutional. The judge directed a law officer to present these notifications till May 8, the next date of hearing. Moreover, the LHC sought replies from federal government and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on a petition seeking enforcement of the law against broadcasting television programmes debate on sub-judice matters.

Justice Shahid Karim heard initial arguments of the petitioner’s counsel and directed a deputy attorney general to seek instructions from the government and Pemra within three weeks.

A lawyer had moved the petition seeking enforcement of the Pemra Ordinance 2002, with effect to restriction on television channel to broadcast any programme or discussion on matter sub-judice before a court of law.

Petitioner’s counsel A K Dogar argued that that it was a universally accepted principle that when a case was pending in court whether subordinate or superior the matter was said to be sub-judice.

However, he said, in Pakistan news anchors daily acted like judges and the participants of their programmes argued like lawyers. He said, even the remarks made by judges were subjected to criticism during the television programmes.

The counsel stated that section 20 clause (n) of the Pemra Ordinance says, “Not broadcast any programme or discussion on a matter which is sub-judice.” He asked the court to order the Pemra to enforce its law and stop all television channels from holding programmes on sub-judice matters.