The Supreme Court is set to resume the hearing on a presidential reference filed approximately 12 years ago, seeking to revisit the murder case of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
A nine-member larger bench, led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, will commence proceedings on December 12. This decision was made under Section 2(1) of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act, 2023. Former President Asif Ali Zardari had initiated the reference on April 2, 2011, seeking the court’s opinion on reopening Bhutto’s trial.
The last hearing of the reference occurred on November 11, 2022, and the new bench includes prominent justices such as Sardar Tariq Masood, Mansoor Ali Shah, Yahya Afridi, Aminud Din Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, and Musarrat Hilali.
Babar Awan, the-then federal law minister, initially presented arguments in the case, and the hearing will resume after several years of adjournment due to changes in legal representation.
In April 2011, the PPP government, under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari, filed a reference to revisit the trial of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged on April 4, 1979. The case has undergone multiple hearings, and the Supreme Court’s decision to reopen it has stirred legal and political discussions.
The larger bench, constituted for this purpose, is expected to examine whether Bhutto’s hanging was a “judicial murder.” The intricacies of the legal arguments and the historical significance of this case have been central to the ongoing legal saga.
In addition to the Bhutto case, the Supreme Court will also address the petition of sacked Islamabad High Court Judge Shaukat Siddiqui, challenging his removal for misconduct.
A five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, is scheduled to take up Siddiqui’s constitutional petition on December 14. The judicial landscape is rife with significant cases, reflecting the intricate interplay between legal and political dimensions.
Furthermore, the Supreme Court is expected to handle Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi’s plea against the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) proceedings.
Justice Naqvi has challenged two show-cause notices issued by the SJC concerning allegations of financial misconduct, arguing that the complaints are politically motivated. This adds another layer of complexity to the judicial docket, emphasizing the intersection of legal and political realms in the country’s judiciary.