Supreme Court to hear Mukhtar Mai case
ISLAMABAD, March 15,2005: The Supreme Court intervened in the Mukhtar Mai gang-rape case on Monday, staying orders of the Lahore High Court and the Federal Shariat Court and deciding to hold its own hearing.
Taking suo motu notice, Chief Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui summoned the record of the case from the high court and the FSC within a week. Notices were issued to Punjab Advocate-General Aftab Iqbal and the complainant. Bailable arrest warrants were issued against 13 accused who had been acquitted.
The apex court will take up the case at a date to be decided later. On Friday, the FSC suspended the order of the Lahore High Cour, Multan bench, of acquitting five convicts by declaring the high court’s judgment without jurisdiction.
The Federal Shariat Court held that appeals against the trial court’s judgment should be considered pending before it. The LHC bench on March 3 overturned the conviction of five men sentenced to death in 2002 for raping the woman on the orders of a tribal council for her brother’s alleged affair with a woman of a rival clan. It commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty of the sixth convict.
In a two-page order, the chief justice held that the suspension of the high court’s order by the FSC was a course not visualized by the constitution and the law. “Clearly, judgment of the high court can be challenged before this court (Supreme Court) under Article 185 of the constitution and therefore proceedings initiated by the FSC, prima facie, are coram non-judice,” the order said.
It recalled that the FSC had held in the Syed Maskin Shah versus the state case in 1991 that it did not have revisional jurisdiction under Article 203-DD of the constitution in respect of an order passed by a high court. The view was approved by the Supreme Court in the state versus Iqbal Bibi case in 1993, it said.