SC to hear 12-year-old reference against Bhutto’s death sentence

SC to hear 12-year-old reference against Bhutto's death sentence

SC to hear 12-year-old reference against Bhutto’s death sentence

The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) is set to hear a 12-year-old reference against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death sentence next week. Zulfikar was the founder of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ninth prime minister of Pakistan.

A larger bench comprised of nine judges will hear this old reference on December 12, 2023. Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Isa will head this larger bench.

The Supreme Court is due to hear a twelve-year-old presidential petition next week to reconsider the controversial death sentence imposed on former Prime Minister Zulfikar.

Who will hear the presidential reference?

A three-member committee comprised of CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, and Justice Ijazul Ahsan decided to fix the current case under Section 2 (1) of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023.

According to Supreme Court Registrar Jazeela Aslam, Justice Masood, Justice Mansoor Ali, Justice Yahya Afridi, and Justice Aminud Din Khan are part of the larger bench. Others include Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

SC to hear 12-year-old reference against Bhutto’s death sentence

It is worth noting that former President and son-in-law of Bhutto Asif Ali Zardari filed to the Supreme Court to reopen the trial of Mr.Bhutto on April 2, 2011. Zardari had filed the petition through a presidential reference under Article 186 of the Constitution.

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Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry with an 11-member larger SC bench heard five hearings in the presidential reference earlier.

Babar Awan was the PPP regime’s then-federal law minister. He appeared as the federal government’s lawyer in this case and offered long arguments.

However, the Supreme Court suspended his practice license on Jan 17, 2012. Because he criticized the court’s order in the Memogate case. Therefore, this case was later postponed due to a change of lawyer.

Supreme Court of Pakistan passed the controversial verdict of awarding the death sentence to Bhutto in March 1979. Bhutto had an accusation of the murder of Nawab Muhammad Ahmed Khan Kasuri. It was a split verdict by four to three in a seven-judge bench.

The Supreme Court gave a death sentence order during the regime of military dictator General Zia ul Haq who overthrew the government of PPP in July 1997.

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