LAHORE - The Lahore High Court yesterday decided a legal point that reconciliation in offences under the Anti Terrorism Act is not allowed among the parties.

A division bench headed by Justice Abdul Sami Khan decided the point surfaced during the arguments on an appeal filed by prosecution department challenging acquittal of PML-N MNA Abid Raza in a murder case of six persons including two police constables.

Previously, the LHC had sought arguments from Punjab prosecution department on a point whether a suspect charged under anti- terrorism law could be acquitted following reconciliation with complainant.

On Thursday, the counsel of the accused argued that their clients were awarded death sentence under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act despite that the said section does not apply to the scene where the crime took place. They contended that both parties had also reached reconciliation among them. Therefore, the appeals may kindly be accepted, they pleaded.

A prosecutor opposed their arguments saying that Prosecution did not file appeal against reconciliation of the parties when it occurred first time in 2003 which meant that the prosecution had accepted the decision. If the Lahore High Court wanted to implement the amended law of the terrorism then it would be appropriate that the matter be sent to the trial court and it be held afresh, said the prosecutor.

After hearing both sides, the bench observed that ATA does not permit reconciliation among the parties and the matter should be decided on merit. At this, the counsels of the accused said that it was the matter  of life and death of four people and, therefore, there should be no hurry in deciding the matter. The counsels pleaded the court for some time to prepare the case. The court accepted their plea and adjourned further hearing until Dec 13.

Abid Raza was elected to the assembly from NA-207, Gujranwala in 2013 elections on the ticket of the PML-N.

An anti-terrorism court of Gujranwala had awarded Raza and six others death sentence in 2001 for killing two police constables and others.  Later he was acquitted following reconciliation with the families of the victims. The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the acquittal during an election matter pertained to eligibility of the Raza and revoked the acquittal of the suspects. The apex court had referred the matter to the high court with direction to decide the issue of acquittal afresh.

The prosecution in its appeal argues that offences under the Anti Terrorism Act are non-compoundable and the suspect cannot secure his acquittal on the basis of reconciliation. The Supreme Court had also endorsed this view in a number of judgments, it pleaded.

Interior secy summoned in MQM case

The Lahore High Court yesterday summoned secretary interior along with a progress report about action against Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s London based leader for anti-state speeches.

A full bench took up the petitions against MQM’s founder and rejected the request of the federal government’s lawyer for four-week and adjourned hearing until November 28.

During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Naseer Ahmad Bhutta said that he himself advised secretary interior not to appear on Thursday as Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan was out of country.

The secretary would not be in a position to assist the court without seeking instructions from the minister, Bhutta added that the minister would be back by November 29 or December 2.

He asked the bench to adjourned hearing for four weeks. At this, Azhar Siddique and Ahmad Awais, the counsels of the petitioners, opposed the plea of the law officer saying that the government wanted to delay the proceedings in the case.

The court rejected the plea and summoned the secretary. Advocate Aftab Virk, Abdullah Malik and others had filed petitions for cancellation of MQM’s registration as political party and action against Altaf Hussain under treason charges. In another case, the LHC granted bail to manager of a travel agency/tour operator involved in Rs330 million Daska Umrah scam.

Javed Iqbal, the suspect, argued through his counsel that he was an employee of the travel agency that allegedly committed fraud with Umrah applicants. The counsel said Iqbal had no role in the alleged scam being probed into by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

He prayed that owner of the travel agency, who was also behind the bars, was sole responsible for the agency’s affairs. The counsel prayed the court to release his client on bail. After hearing arguments, Justice Shahid Hamid Dar granted bail to the petitioner with directions to submit to submit surety bond.