PESHAWAR: A two-member bench of the Peshawar High Court will become functional next month at Mingora having jurisdiction over Malakand tribal areas.
The bench, stipulated under the landmark 18th Amendment, will consist of two judges of the PHC to be appointed by the government with prior consultation of the chief justice of the province.
Under the accord reached between the Pakhtunkhwa government and the Taliban last year – which is now defunct – it was mandatory for the provincial government to obtain prior approval from the Taliban leaders before appointing Qazi (judge) of Darul Darul Qaza.
The deal was struck after prolonged negotiations between the Taliban and the ANP-led provincial government following days of terror in Swat and other parts of Malakand.
Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the uncle of top Taliban leader Maulana Fazlullah, signed the accord on behalf of the Taliban of Malakand while five provincial ministers nominated by their government accepted the deal.
The accord had the consent of Maulana Fazlullah who fled to Afghanistan during the military operation in Malakand.
Fazlullah aka Mullah Radio was the founder of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Malakand. The band of warriors led by him massacred the people of Swat in the name of ‘jihad’ for, what he called, “the enforcement of Shariat in the district”.
Maulana Sufi Muhammad, now facing trial for mass killings, regarded the treaty as a major achievement by the Taliban.
Arrangements to set up the bench at Mingora are in the final stages, an official of the PHC, who requested not to be identified, said.
He quashed rumours that the two judges of the PHC who were nominated for Malakand bench have refused to go to Mingora to take up their responsibilities.
The official insisted that the newly-established bench would be called Dar-ul-Qaza, as envisaged under the Nizam-e-Adl regulation. However, he could not say when Darul Darul-Qaza would be constituted in Malakand.
The lawyers’ community of Malakand has categorically said that the government could never set up Darul Darul-Qaza as there was no room for the establishment of such a court in the constitution.
The PHC official indirectly endorsed the lawyers’ opinion and feared that appeals against that bench would be moved in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Earlier, the PHC officials had indicated that its bench at Malakand would be functional by the first week of this month.
According the Islamic concept Darul Darul Qaza is the apex court of an the Islamic state while Darul Qaza is its deputy court. Both the courts, which were to be established under the now-scrapped accord, were recognised as replacements of the Peshawar High Court and Supreme Court of Pakistan.
The federal government, however, set aside the agreement unannounced and decided to establish a bench of the high court in Malakand.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2010.
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