Commission to review criminal case verdicts since ’47
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is set to announce the establishment of a commission which will review criminal cases and determine possible “miscarriage of justice” in cases including that of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged in 1979, Dawn has learnt.
Mr Gilani approved the proposal after a presentation was given to him by his Adviser, Nawabzada Ghazanfar Gul, in the Prime Minister Secretariat (PMS) recently.
Mr Gul is said to be the brain behind the concept. He has been working on the issue, especially after studying the British-based Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which is said to be the inspiration for the proposal the PPP has finalised.
However, it is yet to be decided when the proposed commission, which will comprise three judges, will be formed and when it will start functioning.
Once formed, people will have the right to file review appeals with the commission on cases decided by courts since 1947.
If the commission finds an appeal to have a merit, it can refer it to the relevant court for a hearing.
However, it is feared that the proposed CCRC may be opposed by the higher judiciary whose verdicts would be reviewed by the commission. The appointment of judges can also be questioned.
Although the objective of the PPP government is to review and refer appropriate cases to appeal courts to limit the miscarriage of justice, the review of ZAB’s case is said to be a major motivating factor behind the idea.
“The PPP believes that the punishment awarded to Mr Bhutto was based on injustice and being a national hero he must be exonerated,” said a senior government official.
Sources said that the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and the Law Ministry were jointly working on the issue, exploring ways to implement the system.
After giving the final shape to the concept of the CCRC, it will be presented to President Asif Ali Zardari for approval. This is expected to happen soon.