ZAB reference – Lawyers, stalwarts wary of predicting verdict | Pakistan Today

ZAB reference – Lawyers, stalwarts wary of predicting verdict

ISLAMABAD – As the courtroom was packed to capacity on Thursday during the hearing of the ZA Bhutto case, lawyers and PPP leaders outside the court made careful statements, understandably not to annoy the court. All those who talked to reporters praised the goodwill gesture shown by the court vis-a-vis the presidential reference despite the recent bitterness between the executive and the judiciary on non-implementation of court verdicts. Soon after the hearing of the case, former law minister and the government’s attorney on ZA Bhutto case, Babar Awan, spoke high of the hearing, but his body language did not support his comments as he looked visibly upset.
Talking to reporters, Awan said a new chapter in the country’s judicial and political history was being written with the start of the hearing of this politically important case. Awan said the objective of reopening the 32-year-old case was to correct a historic wrong, as Bhutto was denied a fair trial. “Neither was Bhutto heard properly (by the bench), nor was he provided justice as a common citizen of the country. His trial was conducted in the darkness of martial law and we hope this case would not only correct history, but also take the tale of injustice to its logical end,” he said.
He added that his arguments were based on the point that when a tyrant took over, injustice reined and the democratic system was uprooted. He said Justice Moulvi Mushtaq, who wrote the judgment against Bhutto, was following a witch-hunting policy and wanted to include judges of his own choice in the apex court bench for hearing Bhutto’s appeal, just to ensure that his decision was upheld by the Supreme Court as well.
Asked if there were any precedent of reopening a case after 32 years, Awan said there were many precedents. “A case for death sentence to Galileo was reopened after 630 years, another such case was reopened in the UK after a lapse of 51 years, while a case in the US was reopened after 21 years,” he said, adding that his party wanted to get rid of a black chapter in the history. He said the government wanted to establish rule and magistracy of law in the country. Asked about who wanted to threat Kamal Azfar as he had claimed in the apex court, Awan said the government did not threaten anyone.
Meanwhile, Bhutto’s minister and legal expert, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada said that the apex court could only give its opinion on the p residential reference, which would have a historic impact on the country’s judicial history. Talking to the journalists, Pirzada said that the court could not give judgment on the reference due to legal hurdles. However, the constitution had given power to the court for expressing its opinion, but the same would not be taken as a judgment or review.
“According to the Article 186, judges of the Supreme Court are bound to give opinion on the question of law which has public importance.
A number of commissions have been made in the world for assessment of judgments. The former US attorney general formed a commission to give an opinion,” he added. Bhutto was not convicted or sentenced on basis of any principal of law, he said, adding that a new bench would be constituted and it would comprise more than three judges to hear the case. He said the amicus curiae would be appointed for assisting the court on the proceedings, adding that he was a part of history and would be available if desired to assist the court.

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