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Saturday April 20, 2024

After much ado, SC to give opinion on ZA Bhutto reference today

Apex court will announce short opinion on presidential reference against Bhutto’s sentence, execution

By Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui
March 05, 2024
Former prime minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. — PID
Former prime minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Following much deliberations over a presidential reference seeking to revisit the sentence and execution of the ex-prime minister, the Supreme Court (SC) will give its opinion on the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) founder Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's case on Wednesday (today).

On Monday, a 9-member bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, reserved its opinion on the 2011 presidential reference seeking to revisit the sentence, and execution of the PPP founder.

Bhutto was hanged to death on April 4, 1979, following a verdict of the Supreme Court in a murder case that his party termed as “judicial murder.”

After the filing of a presidential reference, an 11-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, conducted five hearings in the presidential reference.

The hearing was resumed by the current chief justice on December 12 following a decision to fix an instant case under the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023, taken by a three-member committee comprising CJP Isa, Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

In the previous hearing, the Bilawal-led party’s bigwig, Raza Rabbani — representing Sanam Bhutto, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari, and Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, daughter and granddaughters of the late premier — contended that the trial of the PPP founder was not transparent, neither top and high courts were constitutional at that time, nor Bhutto was nominated in any first information reports (FIRs) of the murder case.

On the other hand, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Chaudhry Aamir Reman, while giving the government's position on the matter, said that the re-investigation of the murder charge on Bhutto was completely illegal and against the rules of the trial.

However, he submitted that there were violations and injustice. "It seems that there was government intervention at that time," the AAG submitted.

The court then court reserved its opinion on the presidential reference with CJP Isa saying that the court would announce a short opinion after consulting with the members of the bench.