Supreme Court to announce opinion on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference today

PPP terms ex-premier Bhutto’s sentence, execution “judicial murder”

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. — Twitter/@BBhuttoZardari
Former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. — Twitter/@BBhuttoZardari

  • CJP Isa resumed hearing of Bhutto reference in December 2023.
  • Bhutto hanged to death in 1979 after conviction in murder case.
  • SC to give short opinion after consultations with bench members.

ISLAMABAD: After much deliberation on a presidential reference filed in 2011, the Supreme Court is going to announce its opinion on the trial, sentence, and execution — by the apex court — of the late prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on Wednesday (today).

On Monday, a 9-member bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, reserved its opinion on the 2011 presidential reference seeking to revisit the sentence, and execution of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder and former premier Bhutto.

Bhutto had been hanged to death on April 4, 1979, following a verdict of the Supreme Court in a murder case that his party termed as “judicial murder.”

After the filing of a presidential reference, an 11-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, conducted five hearings in the presidential reference.

The hearing was resumed by the current chief justice on December 12 following a decision to fix an instant case under the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, taken by a three-member committee comprising CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

In the previous hearing, the Bilawal-led party’s bigwig, Raza Rabbani — representing Sanam Bhutto, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, daughter and granddaughters of the late premier — contended that the trial of the PPP founder was not transparent, neither top and high courts were constitutional at that time, nor Bhutto was nominated in any first information reports (FIRs) of the murder case.

On the other hand, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Chaudhry Aamir Reman, while giving the government's position on the matter, said that the re-investigation of the murder charge on Bhutto was completely illegal and against the rules of the trial.

However, he submitted that there were violations and injustice. "It seems that there was government intervention at that time," the AAG submitted.

The court then court reserved its opinion on the presidential reference with CJP Isa saying that the court would announce a short opinion after consulting with the members of the bench.