Rights of accused: Larger bench to hear bail-on-merit challenge

Judgment declaring bail mandatory for a murder accused challenged.


Express August 11, 2011

LAHORE:


Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday constituted a larger bench to hear petitions challenging a judgment which declared securing of bail on merit mandatory for a murder suspect despite being exonerated by police during investigation.


The CJP decided to constitute a five-member bench while hearing petitions of Muhammad Sarwar and others whose bail petitions had been dismissed by the Sessions Court and the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The accused were alleged to be involved in the murder of five people.

However, the police had exonerated them after an investigation. The complainant then filed a private complaint before a magistrate and the court directed the accused to secure bail on merit in light of Supreme Court (SC) judgment. The accused filed bail petitions, however, all courts up to the LHC rejected the petitions.

Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar representing the accused argued that the apex court had in 1987 delivered a judgment, according to which accused exonerated of murder charges during a police investigation would have to deposit surety bonds with the court concerned only for their release.

He said in 2005 another judgment by the court upheld the precedent, however, an SC bench in 2010 decided otherwise and made securing of bail on merit compulsory despite acquittal during investigation.

The counsel argued that the impugned judgment was in violation of various provisions of the Constitution and the basic rights of an accused. He prayed to the court to set aside the judgment and allow bail to petitioners.

The CJP constituted a larger bench to hear the petitions from the first week of September.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2011.

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