PHC suspends death sentences of seven tribesmen

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PESHAWAR: Suspending the death sentence to seven tribesmen awarded by a jirga in the Frontier Region Kohat, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Saturday observed that nobody had the right to deprive a person of life and liberty except in accordance with the law and constitution.
A two-member bench headed by Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth suspended the decision of the jirga.The assistant political agent Frontier Region Kohat and Commissioner FCR Kohat had maintained the decision.
The court directed the APA, and commissioner FCR Kohat and jirga members, including Malik Zar Khan, Malik Muhammad Naeem, Malik Javed Iqbal and the Fata Tribunal, to submit reply in the case and explain as why the death sentence was awarded to the tribesmen and under what authority.
During the course of hearing, lawyer Mohibullah Kakakhel submitted before the bench that the petition was a human rights case as the right of life was snatched from seven persons including Abdul Wahab, a resident of Qasimkhel village in Darra Adamkhel and his companions Malik Imran, Fazal Rahim, Nawab Khan, Gulbaz and others.
He submitted that Abdul Wahab and six others were awarded death sentence by a jirga on December 16, 2015 in a murder case of one Shafiq. The lawyer said that Shafiq was murdered outside Darra Adamkhel in a settled area and his murder case was being heard by the additional district and sessions judge in Kohat.
The lawyer submitted that the jirga awarded death sentence to seven persons in violation of the law and constitution. He informed that APA Frontier Region Kohat and Commissioner FCR Kohat had also confirmed this unlawful decision and rejected the applications of the convicts.
“Though an accused cannot be handed down death penalty under the FCR, the APA FR Kohat and Commissioner FCR maintained the decision of the jirga,” he pointed out.  The jirga in its verdict had also warned the local people not to attend the funeral prayer of the accused after their execution and their family members were told that they would not be allowed to bury them in Darra Adamkhel.
The lawyer submitted that the family members of the slain person on November 12, 2016 had moved an application to APA FR Kohat, requesting for official guns and cartridges and a place where the convicts will be killed.
In the application, they also requested the APA to nominate persons from the deceased’s family for shooting dead the convicts. It was stated in the petition that the proceedings of the jirga and its decisions were illegal, beyond their competence and against the constitution and law. It was stated that under the Supreme Court’s decision and Constitution the tribesmen had fundamental rights. It said that the impugned order of the jirga and then confirmation by the APA FR Kohat and Commissioner FCR Kohat were totally illegal and thus the high court had the jurisdiction to save the life of citizens of Pakistan.
“A question of far-reaching human rights consequences is involved and this high court may show indulgence to do away with orders of the official respondents, wherein private persons have been let loose on someone for the purpose of killing,” the petition noted.