Pakistan News

Plea to fast-track appeals of death row convicts

Plea to fast-track appeals of death row convicts

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court asked the federal government on Tuesday to respond to a petition seeking early disposal of appeals of the around 7,124 inmates on death row.

The directive was issued by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan on a petition filed by Barrister Zafarullah Khan of the Watan Party.

The petitioner said that 1,031 of the cases were pending before the Supreme Court, 5,378 in high courts, 21 in the Federal Shariat Court and six at General Headquarters.

The figure also includes 532 mercy petitions before the president. A number of these have been pending for 19 years while executions in 78 cases have been stayed on his orders.

The petitioner regretted that delays in deciding the appeals by the superior judiciary were a violation of the fundamental rights of the inmates guaranteed by the Constitution.

Barrister Khan urged the apex court to expedite action on the appeals lying before it and issue directions that mercy petitions pending with the president be fast-tracked.

In its 2008 report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had found that over 7,000 prisoners were on death row in various jails in the country and that the prisons housed 95,016 inmates against a capacity of 40,825. Across Pakistan, 67 per cent of the prisoners were awaiting trial. The case will be taken up again after a fortnight.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2016

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