Federal and Provincial Govts Challenge Supreme Court Verdict on Military Trials

Fri Nov 17 2023
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s center government and provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sindh, and Balochistan have filed intra-court appeals against the Supreme Court’s judgment, which declared military trials of civilians connected to the May 9 riots null and void.

The Centre, provincial governments, and the Ministry of Defense have collectively appealed to revoke the October 23 ruling and restore sections of the Official Secrets Act deemed illegal by the five-member bench of the apex court. 

The Sindh caretaker government and Shuhada Forum, Balochistan, have also separately requested the apex court to set aside its judgment declaring unconstitutional the trials of civilians in military courts.

SC Judgment on Military Trials

Last month, the Supreme Court’s larger bench declared the trials of civilians in military courts null and void, admitting petitions challenging the trial of civilians involved in the May 9 riots triggered by the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan from Islamabad High Court in an alleged corruption case.

The federal government, in its plea, urged the top court to declare its October 23 judgment null and void and sought a stay against the verdict until the decision on its appeal. The federal government objected, stating that the five-member bench was not constituted according to the SC Practice and Procedure Act 2023, rendering its ruling invalid.

Similarly, the caretaker governments of Balochistan and KP urged the top court to declare the judgment on trials of civilians in military courts null and void.

The Ministry of Defense’s intra-court appeal urges the apex court to revoke its decision, restore the sections of the Official Secrets Act declared illegal, and reinstate Section 59(4) of the Army Act. The petition warns that declaring some sections of the Army Act and Official Secrets Act illegal would harm the country.

On October 23, the larger bench of the apex court declared the trial of civilians in military courts unconstitutional, allowing for criminal court proceedings under ordinary or special law. The decision was challenged by PTI and others, citing a lack of transparency in military trials.

The decision to use military courts was made by the government of Shehbaz Sharif, who completed his term in August. 

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