ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday observed that the case of former Punjab governor's self-confessed killer Mumtaz Qadri cannot be transferred to a military court.
While addressing Qadri's counsel, who expressed concerns over the government's reported plans for transferring the case to a military court, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of IHC said, “You came in for an appeal [to high court], the sentence has already been awarded by the trial court, therefore the case can not be transferred to a military court.
“This is a very important matter and all parties will be given equal opportunity,” Justice Siddiqui added.
With heavy contingents of police and Rangers outside, the small court room No2 of IHC was overflowing with Qadri’s army of lawyers and supporters as a two-member bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Siddiqui resumed hearings after three years.
The observation by IHC came after Qadri’s counsel Justice (retd) Mian Nazir Akhtar requested the court to restrain the government from transferring the case to a military court.
During the course of Tuesday's hearing, former Chief Justice Lahore High Court (LHC) Khawaja Muhammad Sharif, who is also representing Qadri, argued that his client's confessional statement had been recorded by the then assistant commissioner (AC) Chaudhry Muhammad Ali under oath, which is illegal.
While pointing out legal loopholes from the prosecution side, Sharif argued that his client had no criminal background and had no enmity with Taseer.
He also stated that police failed to record the statement of Waqas Khan, an important witness and friend of former governor, who was accompanying the governor when they had the last lunch together in Kohsar Market.
“The prosecution in this case did not fulfill some legal formalities during trial as it did not record the statement of Waqas,” the counsel argued, pointing out that at the time of the incident, Waqas was with former Governor.
The counsel informed the court that there were total 43 witnesses in this case, however statements of only 14 witnesses had been recorded. Further, a formal FIR was registered quite late.
On the other hand, Advocate General Islamabad Mian Abdur Rauf informed the court that they have issued notices to the legal heirs of the deceased governor but none of them have appeared. On this occasion, the counsel for Qadri claimed that legal heirs of Taseer have no interest in this case.
The case was adjourned till Wednesday.
Separately, Qadri's counsel requested the court to move hearings of the case to court no-3, which is bigger than court no 2, for which the bench said it would need to seek permission from the Chief Justice of IHC.
Qadri had been sentenced to death, twice, by Rawalpindi Anti-Terror Judge Syed Pervez Ali Shah on October 1, 2011, after ten months of proceedings in Adiala Jail. Qadri was booked under sections 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act and 302/109 of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of Taseer’s son Shehryar Taseer in an FIR registered at the Kohsar police station.