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'Sarabjit sentence was due to bias'

Source: PTI
October 01, 2005 23:05 IST
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Contenting that Sarabjit Singh was awarded death sentence due to bias against his religion and nationality, the review petition filed by his lawyer in Pakistan's apex court said his client has already spent about 15 years in prison and should be given the benefit of doubt.

"The harsh sentence and conviction awarded to the petitioner is against the principles of natural justice, equity and fair play as various irregularities and illegalities have been committed during the trial court case," the petition seeking a judicial review of his sentence said.

"If the defence witness statements were considered by the lower courts and the Supreme Court itself, the fate of the case of the petitioner would have been different," the petition filed by his lawyer Rana Abdul Hamid said.

Hamid filed the petition in the Lahore registry of the Supreme Court on September 28. The court, however, returned the petition seeking more documents. Hamid filed the petition on Friday and the apex court was expected to fix a hearing at its convenience.

The petition said Singh has been "awarded a severe/harsh sentence and punishment due to bias and prejudice on the basis of difference of religion and person of the enemy country".

Pointing out that Singh has already undergone about 15 years prison sentence and his parents, wife and children were longing for his acquittal, it urged the court to give benefit of doubt to Singh which should have given to him at the bail stage.

The petition said the Supreme Court, while dismissing his appeals against the judgment conferring death sentences by the Anti-Terrorism Court and Lahore High Court, 'could not pursue the record, evidence of the prosecution properly and the evidence of the defence witness was neither considered nor appreciated'.

The apex court also did not consider the contention that there was no 'sufficient and proper evidence' to justify the death sentence.

"As such the death sentence awarded to the petitioner is against the settled principles of law," it said adding Singh's confession statement based on which he was sentenced has 'no evidentiary value in the eye of the law as no person of prudent mind would like to make such a confession, unless and until suppression/under pressure is not exerted on his person'.

The petition argued that the Magistrate who recorded his confessional statement has not attended to the mandatory provisions of law nor complied with the same.

"If this fact would have been considered, the fate of the case of the petitioner would have been different one," it said.

Hamid also plans to file a writ petition in the Lahore high court to seek a directive to the government to permit him to meet Singh, who is lodged in Kot Lalkpath jail near Lahore.

"Since the government failed to respond to my requests for permission to meet my client, I have decided to file a petition in the Lahore high court for a directive," Hamid, who was hired by a Canadian Human Rights group to defend Singh, said.

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