Aitzaz Ahsan, the lawyer of Mukhtaran Mai, a gang-rape victim, has requested the Supreme Court to form a larger bench in an appeal urging the apex court to review its April 21 verdict.
Citing six previous judgments, Ahsan said that findings of the majority of judges “have a strong bearing on such criminal cases”.
Earlier, a three-member-bench of the apex court upheld the March 3, 2005 decision of the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench and in April released five of the accused, rejecting a previous appeal filed by Mukhtaran Mai. Ahsan said the review petition also highlighted some legal flaws in the previous court verdict and has requested for forming a larger bench for hearing the case.
Ahsan said that the issue should be referred to Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who was requested to form a larger bench for the “safe administration of justice, including just and fair disposal of the review petition”.
Mai, now 40, was allegedly gang-raped in June 2002 on orders of a ‘panchayat’ in Meerwala town of Punjab as punishment after her younger brother was wrongly accused of having illicit relations with a woman of a rival clan. The boy was 11-years-old at the time.
Ahsan contended that the judgment “is not sustainable in law and is liable to be reviewed and recalled in the very interest of justice”.
Justice Nasirul Mulk, one of the three members of the apex court bench which heard the case, differed from two other judges, Justice Saqib Nisar, the author of the judgment, and Justice Shakirullah Jan, the head of the bench.
While referring socio-economic culture of society, Justice Nasirul Mulk wrote his dissenting note.
The apex court’s April 21 verdict in the case was criticised widely by international media and non-government organisations working on issues related to women. However, in its order, the court also discharged its suo motu action taken on March 14, 2005 in the matter. The court in its decision found the prosecution case to be weak.
After the verdict was made public, Mukhtaran Mai told media persons: “I’m disappointed. Why was I made to wait for five years if this decision was to be given? The police never even recorded my statements correctly.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2011.