PHC overturns military court convictions, orders release of 200 inmates

Accused were sentenced on their confessional statements and not given a fair trial, contends PHC

​ Our Correspondent June 17, 2020
Peshawar High Court. PHOTO: FILE

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) overturned on Wednesday sentences of 200 people convicted by military courts and ordered their release.

The punishments handed down to the defendants included death sentence, life imprisonment and up to 10 years in prison on various charges.

A two-judge bench comprising of PHC Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Naeem Anwar ruled on the writ petitions filed by the military courts seeking annulment of the sentences.

The court, in its short order, stated that the accused were sentenced on their confessional statements and not given a fair trial.

PHC also adjourned the hearing of 100 other convicted petitioners due to non-availability of records. The court directed for their records to be produced.

Earlier on May 13, the Supreme Court (SC) had barred the PHC from passing interim orders pertaining to the release, on bail, of 290 military court convicts.

The bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Qazi Amin heard the federal government’s plea to halt the PHC from passing bail granting orders in favour of 290 militants who were convicted earlier by the military courts.

The bench also asked the high court to proceed the matter on merit and issued a notice to all respondents.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Javed said if the high court grants bail, there will be an irreparable loss.

Appeals were filed by 290 alleged militants and their facilitators convicted by military courts – that were formed in the wake of the December 16, 2014 attack on a military-run school in Peshawar.

The federal government had requested the PHC to form a larger bench on account of conflicting views of different benches on the matter.

However, the PHC chief justice did not accept the government’s plea.

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