A bench of the Islamabad High Court headed by Chief Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman issued the order after it began hearing the appeal filed by Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, the police guard who gunned down Taseer outside a restaurant in Islamabad on January 4.
Qadri, who publicly confessed to killing Taseer for criticising the country's controversial blasphemy law, was represented in the High Court by Khwaja Muhammad Sharif, a retired Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court. Sharif contended that the anti-terrorism court which conducted Qadris trial did not have the power to give him the death sentence.
The High Court also sought a response from the federal government to Qadris appeal. Several senior retired judges and dozens of members of bar associations of various cities were present in the court during todays hearing. Several of them offered to represent Qadri, witnesses said. Authorities deployed a large contingent of security personnel at the court complex as hundreds of Qadri's supporters, including members of hardline religious groups, gathered in the court on Oct 11 morning.