LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Abid Raza has been given time till December 23 in a murder case of six people. The decision was taken by a division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday.
An associate of the counsel of Raza sought adjournment, saying that Advocate Khawaja Harris was not available to attend the proceedings.
Conversely, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar, counsel of co-accused of Raza, was also not available and sought adjournment.
On the requests of the associates of the counsel, Justice Abdul Sami Khan said sarcastically if they were unavailable why the proceedings should not be adjourned till 2020.
However, later the judge asked the associate of Harris to ask him about his availability and inform the court. The court adjourned the hearing till December 23 when he informed about his availability.
The LHC had earlier sought arguments from the Punjab prosecution department on a point whether a suspect charged under the anti-terrorism law could be acquitted following reconciliation with the complainant.
During a previous hearing, the counsel of the accused argued their clients were awarded death sentences under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) despite that the section did not apply to the scene where the crime took place.
They contended that both the parties had reconciled. Therefore, they pleaded that the appeals be accepted.
A prosecutor opposed their arguments, saying the prosecution did not file the appeal against reconciliation of the parties when it occurred in 2003 for the first time, which meant the prosecution had accepted the decision.
The prosecutor said if the LHC wanted to implement the amended law of terrorism it would be appropriate the matter be sent to the trial court or be held afresh.
After hearing arguments from both sides, the bench observed that ATA did not permit reconciliation among the parties and the matter should be decided on merit.
On this, the counsel of the accused said it was a matter of life and death for people.
Therefore, the decision should not be taken in a hurry. The counsel submitted that the court should take some time to prepare the case. The court accepted their plea and adjourned hearing until December 13.
MNA Abid was elected to the assembly from NA-207, Gujranwala in 2013 elections on the ticket of the PML-N. An anti-terrorism court of Gujranwala had awarded Abid death sentence in 2001 for killing six people, including two police constables.
Later, he was acquitted after the families of the deceased forgave him on the basis of compromise.
The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the acquittal during an election matter pertaining to the eligibility of Abid and revoked the acquittal of the suspects.
The apex court had referred the matter to the high court and directed it to decide the issue of acquittal afresh.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2016.