Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court will start hearing appeals this week from convicts sentenced by military courts, including two terrorists on death row for the deadly 2014 Taliban attack on an army school which killed nearly 150 schoolchildren.
The 10 appeals will be taken up by a larger five-judge bench led by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali from Wednesday. At the last hearing, on February 24, Jamali had ruled that all the challenges against military court decisions be clubbed with the directive that execution of the convicts would remain suspended until the pending petitions were decided, the Dawn reported today.
Two of the convicts were sentenced to death by military courts for their alleged involvement in the December, 2014 Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar which killed 150 people, mostly schoolchildren.
Of the 10 cases, one Alaf Khan was given seven years of rigorous imprisonment and had challenged the rejection of his petition by the Lahore High Court.
Khan, who is accused of acting as a double agent, was enrolled by Pakistani intelligence agencies as a spy. He was tasked with spying on India and collecting information.
He is accused of passing information related to the Pakistan Army to Indian intelligence agencies to establish his credibility. He said that the information was compromised.
Khan claimed that due to differences developed with certain intelligence officials, he was taken into custody under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and was allegedly kept in illegal custody for 22 months from 2012 to 2014. Later, he was tried by the Field General Court Martial (FGCM) without being given the benefit of the time he had served while awaiting trial.
The high court rejected his petition with the observation that proceedings before the FGCM were not open to be challenged before the superior court.
Khan sought relief from the Supreme Court, asking whether he was entitled to the benefit of the period he had already spent in custody.
The larger bench will also take up the cases of Haider Ali and Qari Zahir Gul, whose executions were suspended by the court earlier.
Represented by noted rights activist Asma Jahangir, the petitioners have pleaded that they were denied the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 10A of the Constitution since they were not handed over copies of the military court judgments, nor afforded the opportunity of engaging a counsel to defend themselves.