Peshawar HC overturns military court sentences

Islamabad: In Pakistan, the trial of people under the established military courts, has been questioned by the countrys legal justice system with concerns over the convictions and verdicts given after provision of a fair trial.

While the debate has been overshadowed by many convictions and capital punishments, handed over to terrorists by the same military courts, the matter of a fair trial has always been surfacing at the civil courts.

The debate became even louder after International Court of Justice (ICJ), ruled in favour of India, halting the death sentence, awarded to Kulbashan Jadhav, who was awarded the capital punishment, and charged with espionage and terrorism by the same military court.

In a latest, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) overturned sentenced of at least 200 people, convicted by military courts, ordering their release with immediate affect.

The 200 people released by the PHC included defendants, who were serving life imprisonment, death sentences and up to 10 years in prison on various charges and cases.

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Issuing the short order, the two-member bench of the PHC stated that the accused were sentenced on their confessional statements and were not given a fair trial.

Other than the order, PHC also adjourned similar petitions of at least 100 more persons due to non-availability of records.

The court orders holds immense importance because the Supreme Court (SC), on May 13, had barred the PHC from passing interim orders pertaining on the release, or bail, of at least 290 military court convicts. However, the PHC heard the federal government’s plea and gave the order in favor of the 290 militants.

The establishment and proceedings of the military courts in Pakistan, remained under debate as questions over these court’s decision making after provision of a fair trial to the defendant as per the constitution of Pakistan, were always under the suspicion radar.

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The ICJ, in its verdict, had maintained that Jadhav was awarded the death sentence by the military court of Pakistan, raising suspicion over provision of a fair trial, directing Islamabad to ensure consular access and proceedings of the case being heard in a Pakistani civilian court.

Military courts had been established in Pakistan after the deadly attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar on 16 December 2014, in which, terrorists killed at least 144 young school children and teachers.

Sine then, many terrorists have been given capital punishment under the judgment issued by the military courts.

However, the legality of the presence of military courts has always been questioned and criticized by global bodies.

The latest decision of the PHC to release 200 convicted people by military courts, has raised more questions over the capital punishments under military courts and provision of a fair trial to the convicts.

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