Awan insists on ZAB case being ‘rarest of rare’

Published: January 3, 2012
Last year in November, President Asif Ali Zardari revived the presidential reference to reopen the case relating to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death. PHOTO: FILE

Last year in November, President Asif Ali Zardari revived the presidential reference to reopen the case relating to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: There may be no global precedent for revisiting closed cases, but for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, that is not reason enough to not revisit the ‘rarest among the rare’ murder case of the party’s founder, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq on Tuesday conceded before the Supreme Court that the judicial history was devoid of precedents on revisiting cases after they were closed.

Haq was assisting an 11-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, hearing a presidential reference that sought the apex court’s opinion on revisiting the murder case.

Though he could not find a judicial verdict related to the questions raised in the reference, the attorney general did quote an Indian verdict of 1992 over a water dispute between two states – Karnataka and Kerala.

The Indian Supreme Court exercised its advisory jurisdiction in response to that presidential reference, he said, but added that the case was not previously concluded since it was adjudicated upon by a tribunal.

The attorney general argued that the court could take up the matter if it decided that no admissible evidence was corroborated to convict a person.

Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmani, meanwhile, observed that in the past, references were sent to the apex court when presidents needed advice on constitutional issues.

Awan’s reservations

Earlier, PPP’s vice president Babar Awan said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s case was the “rarest among rare cases.”

Awan said Bhutto’s case started without issuance of a notice to the accused and provision of an opportunity to consult with lawyers. It was transferred from the trial court to the high court without any cogent reasons, he said, adding that lawyers acted as prosecutors and amicus curiae simultaneously during Bhutto’s trial.

The chief justice reminded Awan that the points he raised could not be recorded at this stage and that he could submit them when he returned for rebuttal.

For and against

Advocate General Punjab Hanif Katana opposed revisiting Bhutto’s case as sought in the reference, citing lack of precedent. He said that in Canada, about 200 references were sent to the judiciary but they were all based on constitutional issues.

In UK and Scotland, he added, legislation was done for revisiting decades-old cases.

Advocate General Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Asadullah Khan Chamkani, however, said that under Article 4 of the Constitution, the rights of individuals should be dealt in accordance with law.

To provide justice, the court could reopen cases where justice was not done, he said.

The court adjourned the hearing until Wednesday (today) after the bench asked the amicus curiae to assist it over the maintainability of the reference.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 4th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • Acorn Guts
    Jan 3, 2012 - 4:29PM

    There is no good reason to revise ZAB verdict to begin with. Government needs to back their whim with solid legal grounds/reasoning.


  • usman
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:07PM

    Stop wasting time of Judiciary and honourable justices! Go and improve NAB


  • Zohaib
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:13PM

    Why cant our government focus on real issues? Like Gas & Electricity shortages. Who cares about Bhutto anymore?

    For Tribune Admin, please install facebook comment plugin. Your manual comment approval system is really bad. Lot of my comments have not been approved for no reason at all. I am not cursing anyone on my comments but still you dont approve them. If BBC and CNN can use it why can’t you? It is a single line code.


  • Paki-Australian
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:34PM

    Should there be sufficient evidence of injustice or prejudice, let’s open the case I say. But only on merit(which I am convinced, does exist).

    However, this issue is not central to PK moving forward, therefore it could slowly advance as if on the back burner.


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:46PM

    ZAB’s judical murder case should be left at the opinion of the people whether he was rightly hanged or wrongly.

    Once cannot expect from SC to revisit the case when the official announcement has been made and ZAB was sent to gallows.

    This is the tragedy of Pakistan that nothing can be unearthed to dig out the truth.

    The entire Pakistani system is itself a quention mark (?)


  • sami
    Jan 3, 2012 - 5:52PM

    this case is like crying over spilled milk. there is no point and they are only wasting precious time of the judiciary and is only planted to divert the attention of the media and people to something unneccessary in these worse times.


  • Ch Allah Daad
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:04PM

    It means, actions of all previous Dictators cannot be questioned as highest courts have condoned them too.


  • Khan Saab
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:09PM

    how was Nawaz Sharif verdict changed after 11 years delay?


  • Sindhvoice
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:18PM

    Every one knows that ZAB trial was unjust and biased. Even the judges like Naseem Hassan Shah said that they gave such decision under the pressure of military Government of that time. How ironic is that every one can approach courts for justice but despite knowing that cases against ZAB were motivated to eliminate him, justice is not going to be done to ZAB case. After today’s court remarks, I feel Asma Jhangir was completely right about Courts.


  • Sindhvoice
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:22PM

    Earlier it was the law of necessity and now in the garb of “national security”, democratic institution is being cornered.The father of constitution ZAB is being denied of right of being innocent and his conviction was wrong and ill-motivated. Let’s make history correct.Justice should be done to ZAB! We WANT JUSTICE!


  • Muhammad Usman
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:26PM

    @ Khan sahib

    I dont agree with ZAB judgment of supreme court in 1977-79
    But your example is wrong.
    In NS case the option of supreme court and review in supreme court were not used.

    Just few facts


  • Salim
    Jan 3, 2012 - 6:34PM

    For God sake the guy (ZAB) has been dead for over thirty years.The court should not have even admitted the case for hearing.Will we always be bogged down with ther past? Let us move on and start thinking of our future.The court has better things to do.


  • blithe
    Jan 3, 2012 - 7:47PM

    Much ado about nothing…

    It is interesting that IK is constantly comparing himself to Bhutto .
    Bhutto was a meglomanica and his ambition destroyed Pakistan.


  • Ajm
    Jan 3, 2012 - 7:54PM

    lol If Bhutto was alive, he would be no fan of the asma

    Supreme court should correct the mistkae of history Recommend

  • Jan 3, 2012 - 8:07PM

    The SC decision is right and correct.Presidential reference was aimed to sideline the most urgent current security issue,arising out of memogate scandle, tightening the robe arround the neck Recommend

    Jan 3, 2012 - 8:18PM

    Was ZAB asassinated by the judiciary with gun pointed on its head ? The time is ripe to unfold the inside story which resulted in hanging of an innocent former PM of Pakistan.


  • Dr Khan
    Jan 3, 2012 - 8:52PM

    Indeed ZAB was a Great Leader !!!!
    Lekin Siyast Danoo Ko Qabroo Ki Sisat Sey Nikal Kar Performance Ki Seyasat Karni Chaheyia. > Very impartial and Un-Biased Supreme Court Ever in the History of Pakistan. Justice Has Been Done.. No Need to Waste Time on Irrelevant Matter. Everyone Knows that Zia Ul Haq has done a Clear Injustice with ZAB. that was Judicial Murder….
    CJ and Supreme Court Must Have Focus More on NRO Case Implementation and Memo Case, Which Question and Challenged the existence of Pakistan !!!!
    Weldon CJ Iftikhar, We, Youth of Pakistan Support You….Recommend

  • Sindhvoice
    Jan 3, 2012 - 9:37PM

    @Dr Khan:

    Why court is hesitant to take up Asghar Khan Petition? Why court is not so fast on missing person case, Saleem Shahzaad inquiry, 2 May Inquiry, Hudeeba mills scandal and money laundering cases and why not Akbar Bughti case? Aint these less important than memo and NRO?
    Justice is respected when it is impartial, neutral and above all unbiased.

    Habib Jalib for you!

    Chand logon ki khushyon ko lay ker chalay,
    Wo jo saye main har maslihat kay palay;
    Aisay dastoor ko,
    Subh e bay noor ko,
    Main naheen maanta,
    Main naheen jaanta.


  • Imtiaz Hussain
    Jan 3, 2012 - 10:03PM

    It is another way of diverting the attention of this poor nation from real problems. No doubt , Bhutto was a good leader, but we must not forget the presidential election of 1964 when he was General Secretary to Convention Muslim League of Ayoub Khan, Military Dictator and covering candidate for him. The whole nation with the Mohtarma Fatima Jinah but what he was doing with the Ayoub Khan. This simply shows his love of Democracy.
    He has many people who love him but we have many people who have sound arguments against him.

    My point is that why this reference was not sent during the government of his daughter Mohtarma Banazir Bhutto?

    Will it not be better to open the cases of all people who were hanged to death irrespective of their position in the society?


  • Jan 3, 2012 - 10:36PM

    why only ZAB case? All the 300 death cases should be re-investigated and judged. The courts require another half century to complete the judicial process of all these. This will become a bad precedent.


  • saleem
    Jan 3, 2012 - 10:56PM

    @Sindvoice You want justice. Where were the PPP jiyalas following ZAB hanging? I will tell you where all his supporters were. In hiding. I was a 9th grade student then and was expecting a long school break due to protest and agitation. Would you care to guess for how many days schools were closed in Karachi. Zero/Nada/Zilch. In plain English not a single day. And now you want justice. Your type disappointed me then (for different reasons) and today you guys are simply pathetic


    Jan 3, 2012 - 11:39PM

    Now PPP should stop playing Sindh Card and stop explioting the emotions of innocent People of Pakistan. They should do something substaintial for the people of Pakistan or leave the Ground for PTI & PML-N


  • Faisal Ayub
    Jan 3, 2012 - 11:58PM

    What good could you expect from the court if it can’t give justice to one person for thirty years???


  • PP (Punjabi Pakistani)
    Jan 4, 2012 - 1:17AM

    Shameless CJ and Shameless rest of the judges.
    Shame just shame


  • Amjad Cheema
    Jan 4, 2012 - 2:27AM

    Only one thing it proves that only milatry law is supreme in this land of pure.


  • mudassar.r
    Jan 4, 2012 - 3:20AM

    huh,justice is not there for me, not there for anyone else in the city. the 5000 people died in karachi didnt get the justice, the 35000 died in pakistan of terrorism didnt get the justice, why would ZAB get his papers re-checked just coz he has a powerful family. This is the family who is responsible today for the justice of 18crore, if 18 crore will not get justice, we will not let you guys add another shaheed in your papers.
    i reccommend you peopleshould change your cast frombhutto to shaheed,coz anyone dead of any thing becomes automatiucally a shaheed.
    shameless nation.


  • Khadim Husain
    Jan 4, 2012 - 6:14AM

    ZAB was killer proved by courts, witnesses were there and at least two times Supreme Courts rejected his appeal, not a single judge differed on final appeal. First bring person who killed father of Ahmad Raza Kasuri, if not then Bhutto was real mastermind behind his murder.
    Zardar is playing with fake will and using Babus to stop Swiss cases and using Sindh card.


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