Retired judges term Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s execution illegal
By Rana Tanveer
LAHORE: Constitutional experts on Thursday termed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s (ZAB) execution illegal.
They said the judgment should be declared illegal and Mr Bhutto should be declared innocent as a relief for the bereaved family. Justice (r) Wajihuddin said a panel of unbiased retired judges should conduct a judicial inquiry in this regard.
Justice (r) Fakhrunnisa Khokhar said the execution of Bhutto was a judicial murder and the judgment should be declared illegal. Justice (r) Nasir Aslam Zahid said the confessional statement of the accused, on the basis of which ZAB was hanged, was illegal. He said ZAB’s trial was not impartial.
Justice (r) Zahid Bokhari said had the bench of nine judges been maintained, the verdict could have been 5-4: in Bhutto’s favour.
The four judges who condemned Bhutto were Punjabis and the three who acquitted him were non-Punjabis.
When Bhutto appealed to the Supreme Court (SC) against the verdict of the Lahore High Court (LHC), a bench of nine judges (Anwar ul Haq, Muhammad Akram, Dorab Patel, Abdul Haleem, Nasim Hasan Shah, Ghulam Safdar Shah, Karam Elahi Chauhan, Waheedudin Ahmad and Qaisar Khan) was set up.
During the hearing, Qaisar Khan got retired and Waheedudin Ahmad fell ill. The remaining seven judges heard the case and rejected the appeal in a four to three decision on February 2, 1979.
The trial ended in January 1979 and by a majority decision of 4 against 3, the SC decided to uphold the judgment of the LHC. The judgment of the SC was made public on February 6, 1979. Bhutto was given a week to file a review petition, and the final decision was made on March 24, 1979.