CIVILIANS MILITARY TRIAL.
ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday reserved its judgment on civil society’s plea to constitute a Full Court for hearing the petitions against the trials of civilians by the military courts, which will be announced today.
A six-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha A Malik conducted hearing of the petitions.
During the hearing, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui, representing members of the civil society, stated that two lessons can be drawn from the past judicial history and judicial practice. Firstly, no judgment of a Full Court has ever been subverted or not implemented by the State, including the military dictators. Secondly, in the past matters of major constitutional importance and complexity, including cases involving constitutionality of military trials, have been heard by larger benches of nine judges and above or Full Court.
The civil society counsel further submitted that even two members who are (and were) hearing the petitions i.e. Justice Yahya Afridi on 23-06-23 and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on 22-06-23 suggested to the chief justice to constitute a Full Court. He requested the Court to consider the reasons given by these two judges for constitution of Full Court.
He said that three judges have recused from the bench and now how to deal with this issue has been covered in Asad Ali case PLD 1998. Justice Afridi said that two judge have not recused from bench, but they have declined to sit in this bench.
Faisal asked the chief justice to constitute a Full Court comprising judges who are willing and available to be a part of it for adjudication on fundamental and complex constitutional and legal questions.
The civil society lawyer contended that various statements have been made by politicians and sitting minister of the present government questioning the legitimacy of the bench. He said what this Court experienced in the case of general elections in Punjab was the criminal contemptuous attitude of the government. He, therefore, requested to constitute a Full Court.
Contrary to that Kh Hassan appearing on behalf of ex-CJP Jawad S Khawaja, stated that the urgency in this case is because the individuals have been denied liberty. He, however, told that after getting instruction would make further submissions.
Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the petitioners, stated: “I take it (Faisal plea) as astounding and unparalleled. The re-assembly of the bench will take away the confidence from this bench, and inevitably it would delay.” He said would support the idea of Full Court at this stage if 102 persons who are in military custody are shifted to judicial custody.
Aitzaz’s counsel Sardar Latif Khosa said 102 persons are languishing in the jail, and their families are waiting to see them. He requested the Court to proceed with this matter on day to day basis and decide it.