LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) acquitted a PML-N lawmaker and three others by accepting their appeal against the conviction in a murder case.

During hearing, the MNA's lawyer argued before a two-member LHC division bench consisting of Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmad and Justice Shehbaz Rizvi that he was acquitted after an agreement with the complainant.

The MNA had challenged the decision of a trial court which had handed him the death sentence in 1999. His lawyer said, an agreement had been signed between the two parties. The decision to acquit the accused was based on the agreement.

However, the state lawyer said that a compromise deed did not hold in a terrorism case. He urged the court to reinstate the trial court's verdict issued in 1999.

For murdering six people, a trial court had sentenced PML-N MNA Chaudhry Abid Raza in 1999 under Section 302 of the PPC and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). The trial court verdict was challenged before the Lahore High Court but was dismissed when both parties reached a compromise. In 2003, the capital punishment was revoked by a division bench.

In 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the 2003 judgment and remanded the case to the LHC.

The bench last month appointed a criminal law expert as amicus curiae (friend of court) to decide whether an offence under Section 7 of the ATA was compoundable (reconcilable). Earlier, the counsels for the convicts had claimed that Section 7 of the ATA was not added in the case. They said that the LHC would have to hear the appeal against the conviction on merits if it maintained death penalty under the special law.

He had further said that the omission from conviction under section 7 of ATA in the 2003 decision was on part of the court and the acquitted convicts could not be punished for that error.

The two-member bench suspended the trial court's decision and acquitted the four people, including Pakistan Muslim League lawmaker from NA-71 constituency, in the murder case.