FSC urged to hear pending cases of women, children
PESHAWAR: Lawyers dealing with different cases have requested the Chief Justice of the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) to expedite hearing of cases against women and children pending in the court for last many years. The move follows the recent appointment of two more judges to the Federal Shariat Court by President Gen Pervez Musharraf. Before the new appointments, the court was experiencing serious shortage of judges, and it was not in a position to hear important appeals and Shariat petitions which could only be heard by a full bench under the rules.
Justice Salahuddin Mirza and Justice Muhammad Zafar Yaseen were appointed for a three-year term by President Gen Pervez Musharraf three days ago. With their appointment, the number of judges in the court has risen to four, including Chief Justice Hazikul Khairi. In June 2006, four judges, namely Justice (retd) Zafar Iqbal Pasha Chaudhry, Justice (retd) Saeed- ur-Rehman Farrukh, Justice (retd) S.A. Manan and Justice (retd) S.A. Rabbani got retired after completion of their three-year term.
The term of another judge, Justice Dr Fida Muhammad Khan, also expired a few months ago. However, he was given the extension in service by the president.
Under Article 203C, sub-clause 2 of the Constitution, the FSC shall consist of not more than eight Muslim judges, including the chief justice, to be appointed by the President of Pakistan. Only the FSC is empowered to hear appeals relating to cases registered under the Hudood laws, and the high court could not hear such cases.
Some of the lawyers of the FSC told Dawn that various important Shariat petitions had been pending before the court, especially those challenging the Qisas and Diyat law, Riba and Hudood ordinance. “Many prisoners on the death row, including juveniles and women, have been awaiting the outcome of their appeals for the last many years,” said Noor Alam Khan, the chairman of Voice of Prisoners.
He said that he would file applications for the early hearing of some of these cases as the appellants had been languishing in prison for many years. At least 2000 Shariat petitions have been pending in the court for the last many years. Apart from these, about 2300 criminal appeals have also been pending. These appeals have mostly been filed by persons convicted under the Hudood ordinance.
Informed sources told Dawn that two juvenile offenders hailing from Swat have been on the death row since July 2002. Mohammad Rafique and Sohail Fida were charged with murdering Mohammad Zubair on May 25, 2000, in Swat. They were sentenced to death by a Qazi court on July 23, 2002. They filed an appeal before the Peshawar High Court, which transferred the case to the Shariat Court in April 2003 as the two appellants were charged under the Offence Against Property (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979.
Since then, the two juveniles have been awaiting the decision on their appeal.
Another appellant, Tahir Khan, who claimed to be a juvenile offender, and a co-accused in his case, have been on the death row for more than seven years. They were arrested in July 1998 and sentenced to death by a court in Peshawar on May 4, 1999, for killing a man. They had filed appeals before the PHC and it transferred the case to the FSC in Feb 2002, as their case fell under Section 17(3) of the Offence Against Property (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979.
Mr Noor Alam Khan said that a woman, Ms Shehnaz, and a co-accused sentenced to death for killing her husband, had been awaiting a verdict on their appeals for more than six years. A small daughter of the woman has also been in the Kohat prison with her for almost 10 years. The woman and the co-accused, Aamir Khan, who was the nephew of her husband, were charged with killing her husband in August 1996 and were sentenced to death by a trial court in Oct 2000. Their appeals before the PHC were transferred to the FSC in April 2002, and since then there was no progress in the case.