ISLAMABAD: One hopes, for his sake, that the president’s counsel Dr Babar Awan has access to a large, international law library.
The Supreme Court on Monday asked Awan to cite judgments from across the world in which the highest court of a land reopened a closed case on the basis of a presidential reference.
An 11-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing the presidential reference which seeks to reopen the murder trial of Pakistan Peoples Party founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
Justice Chaudhry was adamant that there was no such instance in judicial history where a case was reopened in this manner. He also remarked that all stages were completed in the Bhutto case, including the review appeal of the verdict.
“Under the law only aggrieved persons can approach the court for review,” the chief justice said.
Awan contended that the court had corrected its past mistakes in many of its decisions. He further stated that in Bhutto’s case the judges from the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court had clearly sided with the dictator and their bias was evident from the verdict.
“In some cases the courts have to set new precedents,” Awan argued.
Earlier the court accepted the application of Azizullah, son of Justice (Retd) Anwarul Haq, the former chief justice of Pakistan who turned down Bhutto’s appeal against his death sentence, handed to the former prime minister by the Lahore High Court.
Azizullah requested the court to provide him with a fair hearing to defend his deceased father’s decision. Justice Haq was often criticised for upholding the LHC’s verdict against Bhutto. It has also been alleged that he was a ‘crony’ of the then chief of army staff General Ziaul Haq.
Justice Haq has also been attacked by many quarters for providing legitimacy to General Zia’s martial law.
Meanwhile, PPP members Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood and Aitzaz Ahsan, both among the amicus curiae assisting the court, said that despite Ahmad Raza Kasuri’s objections, they would be unbiased.
“Although I am a PPP worker and loyal to my party, I pray to God to strengthen me to assist the court in this case setting aside my loyalties with the party,” Ahsan said.
The court was adjourned until Tuesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.