Final chance: SHC issues notices in capital punishment appeal

Petitioner is requesting documents from his court martial related to attack on naval dockyard


Our Correspondent August 05, 2016
Petitioner is requesting documents from his court martial related to attack on naval dockyard. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued pre-admission notices to the defence secretary and deputy attorney-general on a petition filed by a former Pakistan Navy lieutenant seeking documents of general court martial proceedings in which he was sentenced to death over the September 2014 attack on the navy’s dockyard.

In May this year, a naval tribunal had sentenced five officers to death for their involvement in the failed attack on the Karachi naval dockyard on September 6, 2014.

The attack on PNS Zulfiqar had left one officer and three attackers dead, while seven sailors were wounded. Four suspects were apprehended.

Hassham Naseer, who is currently confined in Karachi Central Jail, had approached the court through his father, Naseer Ahmed.

The former officer, who cited the defence secretary and appellate court through the judge advocate-general branch of the Pakistan Navy as respondents, had challenged an official notification dated April 19, 2012 and a letter dated June 7, 2016.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Haq Nawaz Talpur, told the judges that his client was posted at the Pakistan Naval Ship Zulfiqar, where the incident had taken place in September 2014.

He alleged that following the incident, Naseer was kept in unlawful confinement at different naval offices for 11 months during which he was tortured and asked to sign blank papers, which he refused.

He stated that the petitioner was not even allowed a defending officer of his choice during the proceedings of the general court martial and on October 13, 2015 he was sentenced to death. His execution was fixed on April 14 this year for which he was shifted to Karachi Central Jail.

The lawyer said the petitioner filed an appeal against his conviction and requested the records of the court martial proceedings but through a letter dated June 7, 2016 he was told that the availability of the proceedings’ record was restricted due to the nature of its contents.

Talpur recalled that the record is being denied on the basis of a notification, which was issued on April 19, 2012 that states: “Where in opinion of the chief of naval staff, supply of any proceedings or part thereof may be prejudicial to the safety or interest of the state, copy of such proceedings shall not be supplied.”

He told the two-judges that the hearing on the petitioner’s appeal was fixed before the appellate court in the second week of August. On Thursday, the court was informed that while the petitioner’s lawyer was allowed to see the record in the presence of the naval officers, permission was not given for a copy of the same.

The court was pleaded to order provision of the relevant documents. Headed by Justice Muhammad Farooq Shah, the bench issued pre-admission notices to the respondents and deputy attorney-general for August 17 to file comments of the authorities concerned.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2016.

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