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Military trial of civilians: Defence ministry files appeal against SC verdict

Plea comes a day after caretaker Sindh govt and Shuhada Forum also filed appeals against SC verdict

Policemen walk past the Supreme Court in this undated picture. — Reuters/File
  • Govt wants apex court to revoke October 23 decision.
  • Urges SC to restore Section 59(4) of Army Act 1952.
  • Plea comes after Sindh govt and Shuhada Forum also filed appeals. 

ISLAMABAD: The government has approached the Supreme Court with an appeal against the order of a five-member bench that declared the trial of civilians in military courts illegal, reported Geo News on Friday.

In its intra-court appeal, the Ministry of Defence urged the apex court to revoke the October 23 decision and restore the sections of the Official Secrets Act that were declared illegal by the bench. It also urges the Supreme Court to restore Section 59(4) of the Army Act.

The petition has also warned that declaring some sections of the Army Act and Official Secrets Act illegal would harm the country.

The defence ministry’s plea comes a day after the caretaker Sindh government and Shuhada Forum, Balochistan, separately requested the Supreme Court to set aside its judgment declaring unconstitutional the trials of civilians in military courts.

The Sindh chief secretary filed an appeal under Section 5 of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Act 2023 read with Article 184(3) of the Constitution against the order passed by the apex court in the petitions, challenging the trial of civilians in military courts.

The caretaker provincial government prayed to the apex court to allow its appeal against the October 23 short order.

It further prayed the court to suspend the operation of the short order till the appeal is pending.

On October 23, a five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsen and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha A Malik declared the trial of civilians in the military courts as unconstitutional.

It also held that 103 persons and others who may be placed in relation to the events arising from May 9 and 10 could be tried by criminal courts established under the ordinary or special law of the land.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and others have approached the top court against the military trials on the grounds that they lack transparency.

The decision to use military courts was taken by the government of Shehbaz Sharif, who has since completed his term in August and handed over to a caretaker government that will oversee an election slated for January.

Hundreds of Imran Khan supporters stormed military and government installations, and even torched a general’s house, following the former premier’s brief arrest by the Punjab Rangers.

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