SC remands 14 ex-soldiers’ cases to high courts

ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday remanded cases of 14 former army men to the respective high courts to see whether military courts judgment was illegal.
The court also dismissed the appeal of two former soldiers while deferred the case of one army man. The armed forces’ personnel from sweeper to major ranks were sentenced under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code, including Section 302.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the appeals of 17 former soldiers.
The court noted that if their cases fall under any of the three grounds – mala fide, without jurisdiction and coram-non-judice (not before a judge), the high courts had powers to hear them. It ruled Justice Hamood-ur-Rehman’s judgment on Zia-ur-Rehman’s case was a settled law.
Justice Azmat said majority judgments in 21st Amendment case permit high courts and the Supreme Court to review the judgment passed by military courts.
The judge said the apex court in FB Ali vs Federation case, had held the high courts under Article 199 of the Constitution could interfere where proceedings in any court or tribunal are mala fide, without jurisdiction or coram-non-judice.
Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar, representing the federation, argued the civil courts did not have jurisdiction to hear the cases of military men. He referred to the judgments in Zia-ur-Rehman and FB Ali cases. The court noted that these judgments were against the stance of the state.
The AAG said there were 56 provisions in the Constitution that barred the trial of army men before civilian courts. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed remarked if the field general court martial passes an order in a divorce case, a high court could hear appeal against it.
The court dismissed the appeals of Zain Fahad and Muhammad Fazal Azeem, while deferred the case of Gul Ijaz. The appeals of ex-head clerk Pervez Akhtar, ex-sepoy Muhammad Usman, ex-Naik Waheed Ahmed, ex-sepoy Muslim Mian, ex-major Asif Iqbal, ex-Naik Mumtaz Hussain, ex-Havaldar Arif Hussain Shah, ex-PJO-166093 khateeb Muhammad Aslam Zahid, ex-signalman Ismail Rasheed, ex-Lance Naik (Driver) Muhammaad Sohail Afzal, ex-signalman Muhammad Asghar, ex-sepoy Umar Zeb, ex-Muslim Sweeper Muhammad Ijaz, and ex-non-combatant enrolled sweeper Iqbal Masih were remanded to high court.
These persons were awarded death, life imprisonment and other sentences under PPC by the field general court martial. They had filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court, but the court declared that their cases were not maintainable under Article 199 of the Constitution as they could not hear the army men’s petitions against military courts.

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