‘President’s pardon violation of due process’

Express May 28, 2010

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday admitted for regular hearing a petition challenging the granting of presidential pardon to Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and requesting the chief justice to constitute a larger bench for the case.

The single-judge bench ordered the deputy attorney-general (DAG) to submit the notification of the presidential pardon granted to the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif.

The judge issued the order after the DAG pointed out that the president had the power to pardon any convict under the Article 45. He said presidential pardon awarded to Malik was similar to the one given by former president Rafique Tarar.

Malik also filed his reply in writing, which had been sought by the court during the previous hearing. The court had also called for the production of the notification of the presidential pardon granted to Malik. The DAG also submitted the copy of the presidential pardon.

Malik submitted before the court that the president had granted him pardon after he had appealed for mercy. He said the summary for his pardon had been moved by the ministry of law through the law division which had forwarded it to the prime minister.

Subsequently, he said, the prime minister had advised the president for granting the pardon and the president, exercising his constitutional powers under Article 24 of the Constitution, granted him the pardon.

He said that Article 45 of the Constitution empowered the president to grant pardon, remit or commute any sentence passed by any court.

The minister said that the petition against him had not been filed in good faith, adding that the petition had no locus standi and the petitioner was not an aggrieved person.

Contending that the presidential action under Article 45 was not challengeable, he requested the court to dismiss the petition.

Imtiaz Rasheed Qureshi, media coordinator for the ‘Save Judicious Committee’, through his counsel Barrister Farooq Hasan had challenged  the presidential pardon to Rehman Malik. He submitted that an accused “can usually benefit from this provision only when he or someone on his behalf had exhausted all legal remedies”.

He stated that if someone had been found guilty of any wrongdoing by any court, he had the right to file appeal against his sentence in the Supreme Court (SC) and if his appeal was not heard in the apex court or a decision was given against him, only then could he or she file a mercy appeal to the president.

He stated that the minister had not approached the Supreme Court in this connection and it was possible if he had approached the apex court, it could have set aside the high court’s verdict.

He said that there was no justification for this remission because Rehman Malik had not filed any mercy petition, and the purported pardon “is against the concept of due process as defined in the Constitution”.

Criticising the president for the “unholy manner” in which the pardon had been granted, he stated that it appeared to be a “clear case of conflict of interest and blatant abuse of discretion by President Zardari for his convicted interior minister”. He also questioned the granting of similar favour to another convict, Ahmad Riaz Sheikh, who is a former FIA employee.

He requested the court to set aside the president’s order and restore the sentence immediately.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 28th, 2010.


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