May 9 case: SC conditionally allows military courts to pronounce reserved verdicts

Court allows pronouncement of judgements of only those cases in which accused can be released before Eid

Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan October 31, 2018. — Reuters
A policeman walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan October 31, 2018. — Reuters

  • Hearing adjourned till 4th week of April.
  • Permission given for cases of those who can be released before Eid.
  • Those with lesser sentences to be given concessions, AGP says.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday authorised military courts to pronounce reserved verdicts of those May 9 violence cases in which the accused could be released before the Eid-ul-Fitr.

The apex court's orders came after the Attorney General for Pakistan, Mansoor Usman Awan, requested permission to pronounce the reserved verdicts during the hearing of the intra-court appeals filed against its decision declaring the military trial of civilians "null and void".

Towards the end of the hearing today, the court said that the AGP has assured that statutory concessions would be granted to those with lesser sentences, while permission to pronounce judgment shall be subject to a final decision on appeals.

The court also directed the AGP to submit an implementation report regarding the case to the registrar as well as sought details of those who were sentenced to less than three years.

It then adjourned the hearing till the fourth week of April.

During the hearing of the case, Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar addressed the AGP and said: "Try to release them three to four days before Eid."

"Yes, we will try," Awan said, responding to the SC judge.

Faisal Siddiqui, a lawyer representing one of the clients challenging military trial feared the released could get arrested again under the 3 MPO after coming out.

The AGP said 20 people could be released before Eid. "There are three steps to be followed for the release of 20 persons."

The first step, he stated, was to pronounce the reserved judgement; the second to confirm it; and the third step would be to grant leniency to those with lesser sentences by the chief of army staff.

He added that the acquitted and those with reduced sentences would be released with concessions.

"A total of 105 accused are in the custody of the army," the AGP told the court, requesting permission for pronouncement of reserved verdicts.

"Even if permission is granted, it will be subject to the final decision of the appeals," Justice Aminuddin Khan remarked.

Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi asked the AGP to name the accused who are to be released. The AGP responded saying that he couldn't say the names until the verdict came from the military courts.

"Those whose punishment is one year will be given a discount," Awan said.

Meanwhile, one of the petitioners and senior lawyer, Aitzaz Ahsan shared his disappointment upon hearing the AGP.