Rape Offenders Denied Presidential Remission

The top court set aside the judgment given by the Peshawar High Court (PHC) and maintained its stance that no presidential remission will be granted to any and all rape offenders. 

A bench consisting of three judges namely, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, and Justice Mushir Alam, made the decision to uphold this judgment. It was passed ten years ago by the Supreme Court, after Article 45 was interpreted. 

Article 45 of the Constitution of Pakistan awards power to the president of the country to grant pardon to, respite and reprieve, remit, commute, or suspend any sentence. This sentence could have been passed by any tribunal, court, or any other authority. Generally, a remission is announced by the president on special occasions such as national day or Eid. 

Back in the year 2009, a remission of policy was formulated by the Ministry of Interior. They made sure to exclude a class of convicts that had been involved in ‘heinous crimes’ from reaping the benefits of a presidential remission. Most, if not all, of these exclusions were supported by rule, an intelligible differentia, or a law. 

Later in 2010, a larger bench consisting of seven judges of the apex court, endorsed this policy of the government, which excluded rape convicts from receiving any kind of presidential remission. Any convict who was serving a sentence under Section 10 of the Offence of Zina of the Pakistan Penal Code was not to be granted a remission. This section was part of the 1979 Ordinance, the enforcement of Hudood. 

Justice Yahya Afridi took on the responsibility of authoring this most recent judgment. He made a point in asking if Habibullah, the petitioner sentenced and convicted was eligible for remission. He included that the sentencing was done under the Offences of Zina Ordinance of 1979 and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997. 

The court observed that the PHC had erred when passing its judgment for the judge had allowed remissions to the respondent in question as per Article 45 of the Constitution of Pakistan. 

The verdict stated that remissions are granted only under the rules of the prison and that Habibullah will also be granted the same. However, a condition was given that the petitioner would have to serve out his sentence for the conviction he received under the ATA.

Soon after, Habib was booked and then taken to an anti-terrorism court. He was tried for a case that had been registered on the 8th of February of 2003 under several sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). This included Section 364-A, 452, 506, and 512. Section 13 of the West Pakistan Arms Ordinance of 1965 was also read alongside Section 6 of the ATA of 1997. 

A regular trial was conducted by the trial court and Habib was convicted. Later on, the PHC and the SC dismissed the appeals made on his behalf regarding sentence and conviction. The respondent then decided to move in the direction of constitutional jurisdiction of the PHC. He sought to be granted a remission, as outlined under the law.