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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed regret over the delay in hearing of Presidential Reference, seeking to revisit the death sentence awarded to former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

A nine-member SC bench, headed by the chief justice, and comprising Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Musarrat Hilali, on Tuesday, heard the reference.

The court appointed 11 amici curiae to assist with the constitutional and criminal aspects of the case.

The proceedings of the reference were broadcast live on the official website and the YouTube channel of the Supreme Court.

Zulfikar Bhutto’s death sentence: Bilawal moves SC for live streaming proceedings

During the proceeding, former president and Co-Chairperson Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and the central leaders of the political party were present in the court.

Zardari had filed a reference on April 2, 2011, to revisit the death sentence awarded to former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The Court noted that the last time the case was heard was on 12th November 2012, but unfortunately, the matter was not fixed and remained pending.

The chief justice said: “I express regret that it was not fixed in the last 11 years.”

The court asked the attorney general to submit a report on how many references have been filed in the Supreme Court and what is their fate. It noted that the references, filed subsequently to the ZAB Reference, were heard and decided by the apex court, but this reference thought to be the oldest is still pending; therefore, it merits determination as early as possible.

Attorney General Mansoor Usman Awan said that after Asif Zardari there were two presidents and the governments, but the successive governments and the President did not withdraw the reference. The AGP further said the incumbent government also does not want to withdraw the reference.

During the proceeding, the attorney general read out various orders of the apex court regarding the instant matter, including the order dated 21-04-2011, wherein, the questions of law were framed by the nine-member bench.

The court questioned how the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was conducted directly by the Lahore High Court, and whether any objection was raised against it, and if the answer is in yes, then how the High Court attended to it. What is the significance of the evidence of the approver, admissibility and the formal confession of the approver?

Ahmed Raza Kasuri requested the court to hear the matter after the election, as it would help the political party. The chief justice said that the reference was filed in 2011, and why you want that the case is adjourned? He asked the attorney general why the case was not fixed in past 11 years. Mansoor replied that the Court itself could answer it.

Justice Faez said they would proceed with the documents, which are before the court, and not on the basis of statements.

The court appointed former judge of the Supreme Court Justice Manzoor Malik, Ali Ahmed Kurd, Makhdoom Ali Khan, Raza Rabbani, Khawaja Haris, Salman Safdar, Khalid Jawed Khan, Salahuddin Ahmed, Zahid Ibrahim, Faisal Siddiqui, and Yasir Qureshi as the amici curae. Everyone present in the Court supported the name of former Justice Mansoor’s name as amicus. The order said subject to his consent the judge will be appointed as amicus. It said he may submit his brief in writing or address the court. The amici were asked to file their concise statements before the next date of hearing.

Farooq H Naek, who represented Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, objected to the names of Faisal Siddiqui and Salman Safdar.

The court was informed that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto has only one surviving daughter, who is living in the United Kingdom, and eight grandchildren. The order said as Farooq H Naek is representing Bilawal; therefore, if any other of his heirs wanted to be represented then they appoint their counsel.

Ahmed Raza Kasuri, who had filed the FIR against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, said that ex-CJP Naseem Hassan Shah had written a book – Constitution, Law and Pakistan – wherein, he had mentioned about the Supreme Court proceeding regarding the Bhutto murder case. He was asked to provide that book.

President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and the Vice-Chairman Pakistan Bar Council were asked to appoint counsels to represent them. The order said that the Court expects assistance on the questions of law, which were framed in the Presidential Reference. The SC office is directed to send the copy of Reference and the Supreme Court’s order, passed in the instant reference.

The Court noted that the Presidential Reference mentioned the interview of ex-CJP Naseem Hassan Shah, which he gave it to Iftikhar Ahmed on Geo TV.

The private channel was directed to provide a copy of the entire interview on CD and USB along with its transcript. Naek said that Justice Dorab Patel, who was part of the SC bench and wrote the dissenting note in the Bhutto murder case, had also given an interview. Naek said he would provide the interview along with its transcript.

Justice Mansoor observed that the Reference was filed under Article 186 of the Constitution. He asked what the question of law in it is. The judgment of the apex court has attained finality, adding the apex court has given its opinion on this matter.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Arif Dec 13, 2023 10:32am
What a waste of tax payers money , just so someone is seen as righteous and not what he actually is , a hypocrite !
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