ISLAMABAD – The supreme court on Thursday issued a stay order over Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict to set aside convictions of 74 suspected militants most of whom were awarded death sentences by military courts in terrorism-related cases.
A two-member bench headed by Justice Azmad Saeed heard an appeal filed by Ministry of Defence challenging the high court judgment.
The apex court has also barred the jail superintendents from releasing the suspects, who were acquitted by the court On Oct 18 due to the absecnce of evidence against them.
During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Sajid Illyas Bhattin argued that the PHC did not examine the facts properly, adding that the suspects were involved in serious crimes, including terrorism.
The additional attorney general pleaded the court to restore the setences awarded by the military courts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provice.
The top court has issued notices to the attorney general and adjourned the hearing for an indefinite time.
A PHC bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Lal Jan Khattak, earlier, pronounced a short verdict to allow 74 writ petitions mostly filed by close relatives of the convicts, claiming that military courts were not empowered to hear the case related to offenses committed more than three years ago.
A detailed judgment was issued on Nov 2, ruling that the recent convictions by the military courts in the province were wrongful and were based on ill-will instead of tangible evidence.
In its 173-page judgment, the provincial high court ruled that while exercising their power of judicial review in light of the judgments of the apex court, it accepted all petitions, set aside the impugned convictions and sentences, being based on malice in law and facts, and directed respondents, including federal and provincial governments, to free all convicts and internees if they’re not wanted in any other case(s).