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SECOND EDITORIAL: The right to pardon.

Pakistan, Aug. 13 -- A seven-member bench of the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the president has the power to grant presidential pardons under Article 45 of the constitution. Barring those accused of 'heinous' offences such as murder, trafficking and terrorism, the president is free to offer remissions and grant pardons wherever he deems fit in his discretion. Under this ruling, those found guilty in the NAB cases and benefiting from the NRO will also be entitled to benefit from such remissions and pardons.

This ruling has come to light after the ruckus following the Rehman Malik verdict in May this year. A presidential pardon was granted to Interior Minister Rehman Malik after the Lahore High Court dismissed his appeals against two three-year sentences handed down to him in absentia in two accountability cases back in 2004. Not only was Mr Malik labelled an 'absconder', he was all set for arrest and confinement. However, a swift presidential pardon saved him from this embarrassment. Many writs were launched against the pardon and now the SC has delivered its verdict.

Leaving Rehman Malik aside, there are some other politicians too who have benefited from the NRO. Some at least of such cases have been labelled political victimisation, lending weight to the accused being offered relief through the now defunct NRO. This Supreme Court ruling opens the door for such NRO beneficiaries to receive presidential pardons. It is hoped that the law will be able to traverse its course in an impartial and non-partisan manner. NRO beneficiaries aside, those truly guilty of the allegations levelled against them should be tried through due process rather than be let off the hook through presidential pardons.

Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing the relieved Mr Malik concentrate fully on wiping out the scourge of terrorism from this country, free of any judicial worries. *

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Publication:Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 13, 2010
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