KARACHI: If prisoners on death row are executed it will send a message to everyone else in society that no one receives preferential treatment before the law.
Urging the government to not give in to foreign pressure against capital punishment, the chief justice of Sindh High Court, Mushir Alam, shared these views during a visit to the newly established anti-terrorism courts on Monday. The anti-terrorism courts are working satisfactorily and there is an improvement but it is the duty of the government to implement their verdicts, including death sentences, he said.
The four new anti-terrorism courts, established in the existing government barracks, are due to start working by the end of this week, said an official. The courts having adequate space, are well-furnished, have enough seats and are equipped with air-conditioners, he added.
The number of judges in the special ATC courts has been increased and they have been performing well, said Alam. He, however, added that merely increasing their number won’t serve any purpose unless the government strictly implements the courts’ orders. The courts had convicted many criminals, but even the condemned convicts were running gangs from inside the prisons, he added.
On the performance of those judges who had temporarily been given special powers under the anti-terrorism act, the chief justice said that 50 per cent of the cases assigned to them had been decided while rest were under trial.
He regretted that the government had delayed the appointment of presiding officers in various special courts to defame the judiciary. The incumbent judges were already overburdened and the courts’ performance could not improve unless the government enhances the number of judges, he said.
ATC courts disposal
As many as 1,368 cases are currently pending at the 14 anti-terrorism courts across the province, including 607 pending before the five ATCs in Karachi. During the month of April, 31 cases were decided in which nine suspects were awarded sentences, while 15 were acquitted.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2013.
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