In Landmark Verdict, LHC Commutes Sentence Of Juvenile Death Row Prisoner

In Landmark Verdict, LHC Commutes Sentence Of Juvenile Death Row Prisoner
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has commuted the sentence of a prisoner, Muhammad Iqbal, who was tried for 'facilitating' a murder as a juvenile. He had been on death row for the past twenty years.  

In a groundbreaking judgment that is unusual for LHC, the court has accepted the petition filed by Justice Project Pakistan requesting the juvenile offender against capital punishment. 

Authored by Chief Justice of LHC Muhammad Qasim Khan and Justice Asjad Javaid Ghural, the judgment said,“....firstly the international legislation and secondly our domestic legislation impose a clear ban on the infliction of the death penalty on an accused under the age of eighteen years, thus, the claim of the petitioner to seek benefit which otherwise, was fully available to him under the policy, having the force of law, could not have been denied….”

“Iqbal’s hanging would have been a terrible travesty of justice. While the past cannot be undone, the honourable high court has quite literally, given him a new lease on life,” said Advocate Ahmed Hassan Khan, while commenting on the judgment. “Iqbal has already spent the duration of a life sentence in jail and I hope this verdict paves the way for his release.” 

The court also reiterated that since the juvenility of Iqbal is not in question from the time of crime, the matter stays solely in the hands of LHC and presidential input will not be required.

Iqbal was arrested in 1998 for shooting a man to death in Mandi Bahauddin when he was 17 years old and sentenced to death the following year, under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

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