Govt yet to appoint lawyer in Taseer murder case

A woman lights a candle next to an image of the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer.—Reuters/File

SLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) adjourned the hearing of an appeal filed by Mumtaz Qadri against his death sentence for the murder of Salman Taseer, then governor of Punjab, till Feb 3 because a government lawyer has not been appointed to argue the case.

A bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq N. Qureshi and Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui gave one week to the government’s lawyers to prepare their arguments.

Also read: Qadri’s legal team outnumbers police presence at IHC

When the court resumed hearing of the appeal, Justice Qureshi asked who was appearing on behalf of the government.


Govt lawyers urged to dispel perception they are ‘working under fear’

Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, standing counsel for the government who deals with cases pending in the court of Justice Qureshi, requested the bench to issue a notice to the attorney general and ask him to assign the case to a law officer.

He said the attorney general might appoint somebody to specifically pursue this case.

“The additional attorney general and the advocate general, Islamabad, both are available and they may be served notices to appear in the matter on behalf of the federal government.”

Justice Qureshi remarked: “Why should we issue a notice to them? We already issued the notice to the state in 2011 and it is up to the attorney general to make a decision. We can also summon the additional attorney general if someone is not ready to appear in the case.”

When advocate general, Islamabad, Mian Abdul Rauf entered the courtroom, Justice Siddiqui asked him to inform the bench about the government’s stance. Mr Rauf told the court that he was unable to argue the case because he was yet to receive the case file.

He requested the court to adjourn the matter for a couple of weeks because “things are in a transition stage”.

At this, Justice Siddiqui remarked that the court was being criticised for delay despite the fact that “we are ready to hear the case even on a day-to-day basis”.

He suggested to the government’s lawyers to “dispel a perception that they are working under fear”.

Representing Mumtaz Qadri, Khawaja Mohammad Sharif, a former chief justice of the Lahore High Court, said that under the Anti-Terrorism Act the appeal might be decided in a couple of weeks, but it had been delayed inordinately.

He said that paper book of the case was not provided to him.

Justice Qureshi said it was the duty of the convict’s counsel to obtain the paper book and “if you did not collect the same it is your fault”.

Mumtaz Qadri, an Elite Force commando, gunned down Salman Taseer in Kohsar Market, Islamabad, on Jan 4, 2011. An anti-terrorism court sentenced him to death on Oct 1.

Qadri’s execution was stayed by the IHC on Oct 11 after he challenged his conviction.

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