Plea over Bhagat Singh’s innocence referred to larger bench

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For the second time, Lahore High Court Wednesday sought a larger bench to hear a petition to prove the innocence of freedom fighter in the Subcontinent Bhagat Singh in the murder case of a British police officer after the plea was last heard nearly three years ago.

 

A two-member division bench of the Lahore High Court headed by Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan and constituted by Chief Justice Ijazul Ahsan conducted the hearing of the petition, nearly 85 years after Bhagat Singh’s execution by the colonial government.

Justice Mahmood, however, referred the case to the chief justice for constitution of a larger bench after petitioner Advocate Imtiaz Rashid Qureshi argued that a three-member bench had awarded death sentence to Bhagat Singh, and therefore, a larger bench not less than five members should be formed to hear the plea.

 

After the hearing, Advocate Qureshi – also chairman of the Bhagat Singh Memorial Foundation – told the media that the court had accepted his plea to constitute a larger bench for hearing of the plea.

“Under the law only a larger bench comprising more than three members could undo the decision of the three-bench member that had awarded death sentence to Bhagat. We have also requested the LHC for regular hearing of the case,” he said.

 

Last hearing of the petition was held by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan in May, 2013 when he referred the matter to chief justice for the constitution of a larger bench.

 

In the petition, Qureshi said Bhagat Singh was a freedom fighter and fought for independence of undivided Hindustan. Bhagat Singh was hanged by British rulers on March 23, 1931, after being tried under charges of hatching a conspiracy against the colonial government.

He said Bhagat Singh was initially jailed for life but later awarded death sentence in another “fabricated case”.

 

The petitioner further said Bhagat Singh is respected even today in the Subcontinent not only by Sikhs but also Muslims and that the founder of Pakistan Muhammad Ali Jinnah had paid tribute to him twice during his speech in the central assembly. “I will establish Bhagat Singh’s innocence in the Saunders case,” he said.