Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not get a 'fair trial': Supreme Court Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not get a 'fair trial': Supreme Court

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not get a 'fair trial': Supreme Court

Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not get a 'fair trial': Supreme Court

In the presidential reference against the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the nine-member larger bench of the Supreme Court has given a historic decision and unanimously opined that Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto did not get a chance for a 'fair trial'.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has expressed its opinion on Zulfikar Ali Bhutto reference today and said that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto did not get a chance of 'fair trial'. The nine-member larger bench of the Supreme Court had reserved its opinion on March 4 after completing the hearing on the presidential reference.

The Supreme Court said that in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto's execution, the trial procedure was not complete, he was not given a fair trial and the requirements of justice were not fulfilled.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's decision cannot be overturned as it cannot be reviewed on appeal.

It is the unanimous view of the nine-judge bench that we need to right the wrongs of the past to meet the demands of justice in the future.

The Chief Justice gave his opinion and said that the judges decide without discrimination, there should be self-accountability in the judiciary and the judiciary cannot move forward without admitting the mistakes of the past.

Giving the opinion of the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice of Pakistan said that the trial of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in the Lahore High Court took place during the reign of the military dictator Zia-ul-Haq. It is of public interest, detailed opinion will be given later.

Fundamental rights were not taken into account in the hearing against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in the Lahore High Court and in the appeal in the Supreme Court.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's reaction

After the Supreme Court's opinion on the presidential reference, Pakistan People's Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while talking to the media outside the Supreme Court said that 'Today the Supreme Court of Pakistan has given a historic decision. We will wait for his detailed decision. After which we will talk to our lawyers.'

He said that the main thing is that the court has accepted that the leader of the people, Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, did not get a fair trial.

Bilawal Bhutto says that the response to the reference sent by Asif Ali Zardari, the court has accepted that the leader of the people did not get a fair trial and in the opening remarks, the judiciary made it clear that we heard this verdict to correct our past mistakes.

The chairman of the People's Party said that this is a historic step that was taken today, the hope is that after 44 years, now that history is going to be corrected, we will be able to move forward due to this decision, God willing. Whether it is our democratic system or judicial system.

He said that it was a stain in the court due to which it was very difficult for the common man of Pakistan to think that he would get justice from this institution.

Bilawal said, 'I am grateful to all the judges, all the lawyers. Inshallah, after this decision, we hope that our system will start moving in the right direction.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's reaction to the Supreme Court's opinion

Prime Minister of Pakistan Shahbaz Sharif has congratulated Chairman People's Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, President-designate Asif Ali Zardari, PPP leadership and workers after the Supreme Court's opinion on the presidential reference. 

In the statement issued by the Prime Minister's House on Wednesday, it is said that 'Historical mistake cannot be corrected, but a new history, a new tradition has been established by admitting a serious mistake. Correcting the abuse of the court by the court is a positive development.

The statement said that the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court in the Bhutto reference will be helpful in understanding history in the right context at the national level. The process of national unity and development can be accelerated only by correcting the mistakes of the past and ending the bitterness.

Arguments of the judicial assistants and the lawyers of the parties were heard on five questions in the reference.

What are the five basic questions of reference?

The Presidential Reference on former Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is based on five questions.

Zulfiqar Bhutto's murder trial was in accordance with the basic human rights listed in the constitution?

Will the Supreme Court's decision to hang Zulfikar Bhutto as a judicial precedent apply to the Supreme Court and all High Courts under Article 189? If not, what will be the consequences of this decision?

Was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto sentenced to death a fair decision? Was the decision to sentence Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to death not biased?

Is the death sentence given to Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto correct in the light of Quranic orders?

Was the evidence given against Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and the statements of the witnesses sufficient to convict him?

A nine-member larger bench to hear the presidential reference

The arguments in the presidential reference against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's execution were heard by a nine-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa.

The nine-member bench heard the case again on December 12 last year and held a total of eight hearings till March 4, 2024 this month.

There were 14 hearings in 12 years of the presidential reference against the execution.

Justice Sardar Tariq, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin, Justice Jamal Mandukhel, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Musrat Hilali are also part of the nine-member larger bench.

The court had appointed Makhdoom Ali Khan as judicial assistant in this case.

Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa had raised questions in this case that 'even if there is no request to reduce the sentence in the appeal, the judge has to look at the delivery of justice, was this the first case in the history of Pakistan in which the trial High Court What and take away the right to appeal? Can the death penalty be given in the ratio of four to three?

During the hearing, Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa inquired whether she can give a brief opinion in the presidential reference.

Pakistan People's Party lawyer Raza Rabbani said that the court can do this, the Supreme Court can use Article 187 to deliver complete justice.

The lawyer of the People's Party further argued that when the case against Bhutto was tried, the High Court and the Supreme Court were not working under the constitution, martial law was in force in the country, and the process of fair trial was not followed in the Bhutto case. Gaya, 6 cases of attacks on Ahmed Raza Kasuri were registered and Bhutto was not named in any FIR.

Background to the case

In March 1978, a court in Lahore sentenced Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to death for plotting the murder of lawyer Ahmed Raza Kasuri's father (member of Harlem) along with five security personnel.

He was arrested in September 1977 and put on trial for six months.

In February 1979, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court upheld Zulfiqar Bhutto's execution in a death sentence appeal in a four-to-three vote, four in favor and three against. After two months of this decision, it was implemented.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari filed a reference in April 2011 against the death sentence of former Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

The reference was based on the statement of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Naseem Hasan Shah, who admitted that the bench that tried Bhutto was under pressure from General Ziaul Haq's government.

The first hearing on the presidential reference was held on January 2, 2012, while the last hearing was held 11 years ago on November 12, 2012, after which no further hearing was held.

The first five hearings on the presidential reference were conducted by an 11-member larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, while the last hearing was conducted by a nine-member larger bench.

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