ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday directed the federation to submit details of 74 individuals who were convicted by the military courts.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Mushir Alam heard the federation’s appeal against High Court judgment to release 74 convicts sentenced by the military courts.

The PHC on 18th October 2018 had overturned the military court sentences on the basis of a lack of evidence. However, the apex court, in November 2018, hearing the federation appeal, directed the jail authorities not to release 74 hardcore criminals, whom the Peshawar High Court had acquitted from the charges. It also asked the authorities that their death sentence would not be executed until the final adjudication of the case. Earlier, AAG Sajid Illyas argued that under clause 5 of Article 199 of Constitution the High Court has no jurisdiction to hear the petitions against the verdict of military courts as the High Court is an appellate forum to take up appeals against the military courts.

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He informed the bench that despite the confessional statements of convicts there are mores against them. Justice Muneeb observed that defense lawyers’ stance is that most of the statements were written by one man and the format of the statements is the same. The bench directed the federation to submit details of 74 individuals who were convicted by the military courts.

The AAG stated that in most of the cases the private counsels were provided to the accused, adding that the accused did not accept the offer of defending counsels because they were aware of the crimes. Sajid told that the PHC has dismissed the military court judgment on the basis of presumption.

Laiq Khan Swati contended that the military court has passed the judgment without lawful authority and jurisdiction. The brother of the petitioner was not given a fair trial within the meaning of Article 10-A of Constitution and Pakistan Army Act, 1952/Pakistan Army Rules 1954.

The petitioner is a civilian therefore not covered under Pakistan Army Act/Rules and all his fundamental rights are intact. He contended that under Section 133(b) of Army Act, an appeal was to be filed within 40 days. Since neither the proceedings have not been made available to the petitioner nor the family has been given access to provide the services of a lawyer of his own choice.

Pakistan Army Rules 23, 24, 73, 74, 87 & 130 and Article 9, 10 & 10-A of the Constitution provides an accused fundamental right to be represented by a legal practitioner in a criminal charge against him. However, the petitioner’s brother was not only denied the right conferred by the constitution, but also by the Pakistan Army Act, Rules.

The mandatory conditions to exercise the jurisdiction were not fulfilled; therefore the subsequent proceeding which follows suffered from the want of jurisdiction and become void and illegal.

Later, the bench deferred hearing in this matter till Tuesday (today).