A petition has been filed in the Lahore Registry of the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the possible execution of around 400 death-row prisoners following the expiry of a 2008 moratorium on executions on June 30, 2013.
The petition was filed by Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party as part of another pending petition seeking an end to the capital punishment in Pakistan.
According to the petitioner, the interior ministry has sent the cases of 400 death-row prisoners to the president for a quick decision, citing different reasons, including overcrowded jails.
The petitioner argued that the elimination of human life without deciding law points would be illegal and unconstitutional and would jeopardise the country’s judicial system. During the pendency of the petition, the act of the ministry of interior amounted to contempt of court, he argued.
The petitioner requested the court immediately restrain the execution of all death-row prisoners – including the 400 inmates whose mercy petitions were pending before the president.
In his main petition, Barrister Zafarullah had expressed his lack of trust in the country’s prosecution system, saying that a weak and inefficient prosecution resulted many times in the award of capital punishment to the innocent. “The execution of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a glaring example,” he added.
He submitted that prevailing corruption had overwhelmed the criminal justice system in the country and the chances of the innocent being declared guilty had increased manifolds.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.