SC urged to initiate contempt proceedings against Secretary Ministry of Defence

TRIAL OF CIVILIANS BY MILITARY COURTS

ISLAMABAD  -  The Supreme Court of Pakistan has been urged to initiate contempt proceedings against the Secretary Ministry of Defence for not implementing its verdict against the trial of civilians by the military courts.

The members of various civil society groups Monday filed a contempt petition urging the court to initiate proceedings of contempt of court against retired Gen Hamooduz Zaman Khan “for wilful and deliberate violation of the apex court order dated 23rd October, 2023.

The petition, filed through advocate Faisal Siddiqui, stated that the alleged contemnor is responsible for implementation of the directions passed in the Order, because he heads the relevant ministry which has to issue the directions for the transfer of custody of persons mentioned in Para (ii) of the Order.

A five-member larger bench, headed by Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha A Malik on 23-10-23 declared that military trials of the civilians for their alleged role in attacks on army installations during the riots that followed ex-premier Imran Khan’s arrest on May 9 unconstitutional, illegal and of no legal effect.

It by a majority of 4-1 declared that clause (d) of subsection (1) of Section 2 of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 (in both of its sub clauses (i) & (ii)) and subsection (4) of Section 59 of the said Act are ultra vires the Constitution and of no legal effect. The bench had also emphasized that the cases of the suspects involved in the vandalism would proceed before criminal courts.

The caretaker federal government, Defence Ministry, Ministry of Interior, and Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Punjab interim governments have filed the Intra-Court Appeal (ICA) against the five-member bench order. Sindh interim government denied filing the appeal. The petitioners submitted that the direction passed in Para (ii) of the Order dated: 23.10.2023, is unambiguous as it holds that the persons who are accused in relation to events arising from and out of 9th and 10th May, 2023, shall be tried by criminal courts of competent jurisdiction.

They added that it is self-evident that an integral part of this declaration and direction is that the custody of the said persons as identified in the list, provided to the SC, must be handed over to the criminal courts so that their trial may commence without delay.

They further said that continuing detention of these persons, with the military authorities is unconstitutional and illegal. Since the Court had declared Section 2(1)(d)(i) & (ii) and Section 59(4) of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, as unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Constitution, 1973, therefore any continuing detention pursuant to the Section 2(1) (d)(i) & (ii) and Section 59(4) is similarly unconstitutional and ultra vires of the Constitution.

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