Govt may punish those responsible for putting off Shafqat execution

Source: Published in Law & Order on Monday, June 15, 2015

ISLAMABAD: The government is likely to take action against those responsible for granting last-minute reprieve to death row prisoner Shafqat Hussain who was scheduled to be executed on Tuesday morning, according to sources in the Presidency.

The sources said the execution was apparently put off on the orders of the Sindh jail authorities.

Following an initial inquiry, they said, President Mamnoon Hussain had been informed about how the execution had been postponed and on whose instructions.

“The president has been told that an NGO, the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), wrote a letter to the Sindh jail authorities requesting them to postpone the convict’s hanging because his (fresh) plea had been accepted by the Supreme Court for a formal hearing,” the sources said.

“In exercise of clause 104 of the jail manual, the jailer then stopped the execution,” they said.

The halting of Shafqat Hussain’s execution, hours before he was supposed to be hanged in the Karachi Central Jail, had stunned all concerned, including the convict’s own counsel.

The president’s spokesperson had said at the time that neither any summary had been sent from the Prime Minister’s Office for grant of mercy to the convict nor had President Hussain approved it.

Shafqat Hussain was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in 2004 for kidnapping and murdering a seven-year-old boy.

The case was tried in the local courts, the high court and finally in the Supreme Court where the conviction was upheld.

His mercy petition was also rejected by the president.

In a recent judgment, Islamabad High Court judge Athar Minallah had said the correspondence between the executive director of the JPP, representing the petitioner, and various officials of the federal government and its agencies did not disclose any material which would show that any of the fundamental rights of the petitioner had been violated.

“Such litigation, besides being not maintainable, falls within the realm of being frivolous. It is tantamount to abuse of the process of the court. Most importantly, such petitions and undeserved hype, without first verifying the facts and examining the record, is likely to be seen as being aimed at eroding public confidence in the criminal justice system.

“If the proceedings, which have attained finality, are made subject to reassessments, the role of the judicial system, (and) the effectiveness of criminal justice system will be undermined and eroded, inevitably leading to chaos in society,” the verdict said.

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Written by Syed Irfan Raza

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