PHC finds no evidence in recent convictions by military courts

  • Entire judicial confessional statements were in one and same handwriting and in one specific style: PHC

PESHAWAR – The Peshawar High Court has ruled 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 detailed judgment on the recently-accepted 75 petitions of military court convicts, 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).

A bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Lal Jan Khattak penned a 173-page judgment and noted that the way all convicts have been proceeded against right from their arrest in different parts of the country in the custody of the agencies and landing them in the internment centres for months/ years, are not appreciated at all for the purpose of convictions.

Issuing the detailed judgment, the bench rejected confessional statements of all convicts by elaborately discussing the flaws in them.

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The bench observed that the entire judicial confessional statements recorded in Urdu were ‘in one and the same handwriting and in one specific style’.

‘Every document on file would show that all the three courts were functioning on one and the same pattern not even a single accused has deviated differently to the questions put on him,’ it highlighted.

The bench said the questions put to all accused were one and the same with exactly the same answers in all cases and even for the purpose of engaging private counsel, the same format would reflect there were planned proceedings in all the said three courts, Dawn News reported.

It is observed from the record, so produced that they have erased each and every date, the names of the prosecution’s witnesses, their designations, and many other things, the bench observed.

The bench remarked that in majority of the cases there is no FIR or any authentic report of the Pata/ Fata authorities in this respect, ruling that even in the secret reports of the prosecution, army and intelligence agencies, no one had been named till the time, someone was arrested and he was shifted to the internment centre, where each and every one who had been arrested from anywhere in the down country was framed in a particular charge.

After years of confinement, the arrested man was abruptly produced before the authorities for recording of confessional statements and that too in the same tone and language and then before the Field General Court Martial, the court stated.

The bench observed that there was no witness to the occurrence or for the presence of the convicts and even the injured were never produced in any of the case reflecting that all the proceedings conducted by three such courts established, had a clear mindset.

‘The alleged confessional statement with no independent advice after months/ years of confinement with military and internment centres is a manufactured story obtained and subscribed one, totally reflecting the intention to fill in the blanks, by way of untraced cases,’ it said.

“We have before us the confessional statements of almost all the convicts and we appreciate with naked eye that all of them are recorded in one and the same handwriting. All these statements have thumb impressed by the accused/ convicts with no mention of identity card number, etc.”

The Peshawar High Court had set free scores of convicts by the military courts last month for lack of evidence. The military courts were set up in the country after the Army Public School, Peshawar carnage to thwart terrorism.