SC issues notices to all AGs, accused in Daniel Pearl case

ISLAMABAD   – The Supreme Court of Pakistan Monday issued notices to Ahmed Umer Saeed Sheikh, Attorney General for Pakistan, and the Advocate Generals of all the provinces and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) in an appeal against the release of the accused murderers of Daniel Pearl, Bureau Chief of Wall Street Journal in Pakistan.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Sajjad Ali Shah and Justice Muneeb Akhtar conducted hearing of the Sindh government appeal not to release the accused in pursuance of the Sindh High Court order.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talib-ud-Din adopted before the court that so far a division bench of the SHC has not passed the detailed judgment of its impugned order 24-12-2020. He submitted that one of the findings of the SHC order is that the respondents (accused) are not ‘Enemy Alien’ under the Preventive Detention Order read with Article 10 of Constitution.

The apex court noted that this is [Enemy Alien] hitherto unexplored term and issue of first impression. The Sindh government’s stand is that the accused fall in the category of ‘Enemy Alien’ for which they have placed material before the SHC for justification.

The AG Sindh submitted that the SHC order has barred the provincial government from exercising power which the authorities have under Article 10 of Constitution except with the permission of the High Court. “As a result the Sindh government has been divested of the power given to the executive by the Constitution,” said the SC order.

The AG Sindh requested the bench to grant stay against the SHC order dated December 24.

Ahmed Omer Sheikh, Fahad Naseem and other accused on January 07, 2021 had filed an application under Order XXXIII Rule VI, Supreme Court Rules, 1980, to clarify the order dated 28-09-2020 for their release.

The accused submitted that the apex court is hearing Sindh government and Daniel Pearl parents’ appeals on day to day basis. On various dates the apex court was asked to suspend the acquittal judgment of the Sindh High Court (SHC) dated 02-04-2020.

The court, however, acceded the Sindh government’s application on 28-09-2020 and the jail authorities were directed not to release the accused till next date of hearing. On the next date of hearing i.e. 7th October, 2020, the request of the appellants to extend the detention of the petitioners were not acceded to.

The SHC on December 24, 2020 had set aside the provincial government’s detention order of four men which it had ordered eight months ago to set them free.

A division bench of the SHC, Karachi, on 2nd April 2020 acquitted the accused Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh, Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim. It also held that the subject case does not fall within the purview of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Omer Sheikh is entitled to both remissions in accordance with law and the benefit of Section 382-B, Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.

Trial Court on 15-07-2002 had convicted Ahmad Omer Saeed Sheikh and awarded him death sentence, while Adil Sheikh, Salman Saqib and Fahad Nasim were given life imprisonment under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Despite the SHC order dated 24-12-2020, the Chief Secretary Sindh, Additional Chief Secretary Home Department, Sindh, Senior Superintendent Central Jail, Karachi, and Senior Superintendent Central Jail Sukkar refused to release the accused albeit the direction in the said order lapsed on 07-10-2020 and was never extended thereafter, submitted the counsel. He informed that the Senior Central Jail Karachi has in this regard sent a letter to apex court seeking instructions whether this Court has extended the detention of the accused.

Advocate General Sindh Salman Talib-ud-Din adopted before the court that so far a division bench of the SHC has not passed the detailed judgment of its impugned order 24-12-2020. He submitted that one of the findings of the SHC order is that the respondents (accused) are not ‘Enemy Alien’ under the Preventive Detention Order read with Article 10 of Constitution.

The apex court noted that this is [Enemy Alien] hitherto unexplored term and issue of first impression. The Sindh government’s stand is that the accused fall in the category of ‘Enemy Alien’ for which they have placed material before the SHC for justification. The AG Sindh submitted that the SHC order has barred the provincial government from exercising power which the authorities have under Article 10 of Constitution except with the permission of the High Court. “As a result the Sindh government has been divested of the power given to the executive by the Constitution,” said the SC order. The AG Sindh requested the bench to grant stay against the SHC order dated December 24. Ahmed Omer Sheikh, Fahad Naseem and other accused on January 07, 2021 had filed an application under Order XXXIII Rule VI, Supreme Court Rules, 1980, to clarify the order dated 28-09-2020 for their release.

Newspaper: The Nation