PAKISTAN: SC CONVERTS DEATH SENTENCE INTO LIFE-TERM
March 24, 2021:
The Supreme Court (SC) on 22 March 2021 converted the death sentence of a murder convict into life imprisonment, giving him the benefit of a 2001 notification, issued by the president that gave retrospective effect to Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000, which prohibited death penalty for juveniles. (Source: The News, 23/03/2021)
Muhammad Anwar, the convict, was charged with committing murder of one Israr Ahmed in March 1993 and was arrested thereafter in the same month. Since then he had been behind the bars. He was sentenced to death by a sessions court in 1998, and the decision was upheld in 2002 by the Lahore High Court and the same was maintained in the Supreme Court in 2007.
The convict filed applications to the sessions court twice for relief under the presidential notification, which were dismissed. The sessions court maintained that since conviction had been upheld by the Supreme Court; therefore, no interference by sessions court was possible.
Advocate Anwaar Hussain, on behalf of the appellant, argued that while the conviction was maintained by the Supreme Court, it was an admitted fact that the presidential notification was retrospective in nature. He said since the medical test conducted in 2002 by the government official itself showed that the convict was between the age of 16-21 at the time of commission of offence. Therefore, the counsel said, the convict was entitled to benefit of the notification without referring the matter back to sessions court for determination of issue of juvenility.
Headed by Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik, a three-judge bench of the SC observed that the documents submitted by the government itself showed the age bracket of the convict, which must be liberally and leniently construed in favour of the convict.