MIRPUR: “The judgment by the Anti-Terrorist Court in Gilgit/Baltistan sentencing the Editor in-Chief of the Jang Media Group Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, anchor Dr Shaista Lodhi, actor Veena Malik, and her spouse Assad Khatak to 26 years of imprisonment in absentia, has no legal standing and territorial jurisdiction since Gilgit/Baltistan is not a constitutional part of Pakistan.”
This was observed by veteran Kashmiri jurist, legal expert and former chief justice of the Azad Jammu & Kashmir High Court Justice (Retd) Abdul Majeed Malik. In an exclusive interview to this correspondent here on Tuesday, the retired chief justice of AJK HC said that the judgment by a session judge of Gilgit/Baltistan has created a new controversy on the constitutional and legal status of G-B.
“Primarily G-B is the historic and geographical part of Jammu & Kashmir state as accepted by Pakistan in the United Nations and its acknowledgement by the UN resolutions on Kashmir issue,” Justice (Retd) Majeed Malik said.
“But on account of delaying in the settlement of Kashmir problem through plebiscite in the light of the UN resolutions, it was deemed expedient by the government of Pakistan to give it a status under the Pakistan President’s Governance Ordinance, in 2009, since then Gilgit-Baltistan was administered through its elected council, chief minister and the governor”, he underlined.
“In view of the unsettled legal status, session judge Gilgit, assumed that an alleged offense perpetrated to have been committed in Pakistan, was triable by that court”, he observed.The retired CJ of AJK HC said, “it is quite clear that legally the said court has no jurisdiction to lay its hands on such a matter which was not committed within the territorial limits of Gilgit-Baltistan. The matter has gained enough publicity on account of entertainment of the matter without jurisdiction and particularly recording grave conviction for an offense against the convicts without providing any opportunity of hearing and defense of alleged accused persons, he said. “Nevertheless the issue of judgment by the G-B court shall have a serious legal affect on the legal and political relationship between G-B and Pakistan”, Justice (Retd) Malik observed.