Free at last: After a decade in jail, death row inmates acquitted by SC

Published: December 3, 2016

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has acquitted two convicts implicated in two different murder cases after they spent a decade on death row in separate jails.

Legal experts praised Justice Asif Saeed Khosa’s approach in deciding criminal appeals, saying several convicts had been acquitted after lengthy incarcerations.

Justice Khosa, considered one of the best judges dealing with criminal cases, is heading a special three-judge bench hearing such appeals for the past couple of years.

A senior Supreme Court official told The Express Tribune that the bench was speeding up listed cases on a daily basis and there was no need for adjournments.

He pointed out that although pendency of cases in the SC had surged by more than 30,000 all criminal appeals would be decided by the middle of the next year.

SC acquits life sentence convict after 11 years

A lawyer, Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, maintained that Justice Khosa’s judgments were being cited by Harvard University and also by the courts in India.

On Friday, the bench acquitted Muhammad Anaar who was in prison for more than a decade on charges of murder.

Ghufran Rashid Imtiazi, who represented the convict, told The Express Tribune that Anaar was handed down the death penalty by a sessions court in Mandi Bahauddin in a murder case in 2008. Three years later, the sentence was converted to a life term by the Lahore High Court (LHC). He was implicated in the murder of the husband of a woman he knew.

Acquitting the convict, the apex court observed that there were several flaws in the post-mortem report.

During the hearing, Justice Khosa observed that the accused were languishing in jails because of false testimonies and no action was being taken against witnesses who submitted false statements.

Later, the bench also acquitted another death row prisoner, Muhammad Sadique, who was convicted in an honour killing case. He had also spent a decade in jail.

Both decisions came a week after the court acquitted a death row prisoner who had been incarcerated for two decades.

The court heard Mazhar Farooq’s five-year-old appeal against the confirmation of his death sentence by the LHC in 2009. Farooq, a resident of Kasur, was supposedly involved in the murder of one Nisar Ahmed. A case was registered against him in 1992, and he was arrested in 1996.

Supreme Court acquits death row prisoner jailed for 20 years

In October this year, the same bench exonerated a man, who was handed down the death sentence by a sessions court in April 2004, two years after his execution.

Mazhar Hussain, whose original appeal against the death sentence was turned down by a high court, died of a coronary failure in prison about two years ago.

The wrongful execution of the two brothers in a southern Punjab district have also exposed serious flaws in the criminal justice system.

On October 6, the same bench while hearing seven-year-old jail petitions, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, acquitted the two brothers – Ghulam Qadir and Ghulam Sarwar. They had been condemned to death for killing Abdul Qadir, Muhammad Akmal and Salma Bibi on February 2, 2002 in Rahim Yar Khan district.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 3rd, 2016.

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