Govt-judiciary tussle delays Mukhtar Mai case hearing -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Govt-judiciary tussle delays Mukhtar Mai case hearing

SLAMABAD, April 16,2005: A series of legal arguments between the government and the judiciary have delayed the hearing of the Mukhtar Mai gang-rape case in the Supreme Court, sources told Daily Times on April 15.

Mai was raped for more than an hour on the orders of a tribal council in Meerwala as punishment for her brother’s alleged affair with a woman from the Mastoi tribe. An anti-terrorism court sentenced six men to death in July 2002 for the attack — four for carrying out the rape and two who sat on the village council.

But the case became snarled in a legal tangle after the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench overturned the ruling and acquitted five of the six, citing a lack of evidence, and commuted the sentence of the sixth to life in prison. The Federal Shariat Court rejected the Multan court’s judgment, saying it had no jurisdiction to rule on the case.

The Supreme Court then intervened on March 14, 2005, suspending proceedings of both the Federal Shariat Court and the Lahore High Court and said it would hear appeals and counter-appeals against the rulings. The suspects were released on bail but were re-arrested after Mukhtar Mai met the prime minister and asked him to intervene.

Sources told Daily Times that when the chief justice objected to the suspects’ re-arrest, the Multan sessions judge said that the Punjab home secretary had issued a directive not to allow bail to them. Sources in the judiciary said the chief justice had sought an explanation from the home secretary and the hearing would start when he got his reply.

The Interior Ministry had put the names of four suspects on the exit control list.Mai and her lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan have requested the court hear the case soon but their petition has been pending for over a month now
Source: Daily Times