Mukhtar Mai’s wait for justice prolonged
* Executive-judiciary conflict causes delay
By Mohammad Kamran
ISLAMABAD: Mukhtar Mai who was allegedly gang-raped three years ago, will have to wait for another four months in her pursuit of justice because there is no chance of an early hearing for her in the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court sources told Daily Times that Mai’s case appeared to be held in abeyance as there was no chance for an immediate hearing although the case has been in the SC for the last two months.
“Mai’s case involves legal complications and will be heard by a larger bench. The SC is proceeding on summer vacations next month and the case is unlikely to be heard before that,” a source said.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Nazim Hussain Siddiqui on March 14 took suo motu notice of the Mai case and suspended the proceedings by the Federal Shariat Court and those of the Multan Bench of the Lahore High Court in the case. The chief justice will retire on June 29 during the court holidays starting from June 13 to September 12. During the holidays, only urgent cases are heard, which means this case has not been marked urgent.
Mai also filed a petition on March 25 through Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan. Sources said one of the reasons for the delay was the argument between the judiciary and executive.
The chief justice issued bailable arrest warrants for Mai’s alleged rapists. Consequently, the suspects managed to get out of jail on bail. But later when Mai met Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and told him about her insecurity, he issued an executive order to keep the accused in detention till the case was adjudicated by the Supreme Court.
Sources told Daily Times that when the chief justice objected to the re-arrest of accused, the Multan sessions judge said in his report that the Punjab home secretary had issued an order not to entertain the bail. The chief justice has now sought explanation from the home secretary. Sources added that the home secretary’s report claimed that there were also some other cases against the suspects and that was why their bail was not accepted.“The court has received replies from all parties concerned. Complete record has been submitted in court. But this case will unlikely to be put on the cause list before September when the Supreme Court will resume work after the holidays,” sources said.
Mai was reportedly gang-raped in the presence of several people as a result of decree by a panchayat (tribal jury) at Meerwala in District Multan on June 22, 2002. The case was tried by an anti-terrorism court which gave capital punishment to six out of the 14 accused. However, the Multan bench on March 3, 2005, acquitted five convicts of the death sentence and also commuted the punishment of a sixth one from capital punishment to life imprisonment. The Federal Shariat Court also took suo motu notice of this case and summoned a complete record but the Supreme Court intervened and suspended the orders of the Federal Shariat Court and Multan Bench.