Senior lawyers on Monday censured the caretaker government for challenging the Supreme Court’s decision to declare the trials of civilians in military courts illegal, saying it was not the mandate of the interim set-up to do so, adding that the “entire legal fraternity” backed the top court’s verdict.
Addressing a news conference in Lahore, senior counsel Hamid Khan noted that “currently Constitution was being violated” in the country.
“The Supreme Court had given a very good decision against the trial of civilians in the military courts. The central caretaker government, K-P (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) government and the interim Balochistan government have filed an appeal against top court’s decision,” Khan said.
“This is not mandate of the interim governments. These governments are unconstitutional,” he added.
The senior lawyer stated that the entire legal fraternity stood by the apex court’s decision.
On October 23, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court had unanimously declared the trial of civilians in military courts as null and void and ordered that the 103 accused in cases relating to the violence on May 9 and 10 be tried under the ordinary criminal laws.
The court through the 4-1 majority also declared certain clauses of the Army Act as ultra vires of the Constitution and of no legal effect.
Scores of protesters were held following violence on May 9, which included attacks on military installations, when former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested in a corruption case. Some faced military trials under the Army Act.
Last week, the caretaker government challenged the apex court’s verdict. In their intra-court appeals, the caretaker federal and provincial governments of K-P and Balochistan as well as the defence ministry urged the top court to restore the sections of the Official Secrets Act.
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During the presser on Monday, Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) President Ishtiaq A Khan paid tribute to the top court’s judges of the bench who had given verdict, adding that the legal fraternity can “never accept” the military courts.
“Rights [of people] are deprived in the military courts. Punishment should be awarded according to the laws prevailing in the country. Military courts were established under the martial law,” the LHCBA president said.
“These caretaker governments seek a decision by the Supreme Court through these petitions (challenging top court’s verdict on military courts),” he added.
“The apex court should avoid any (such) decision that reminds (us) of Justice Munir.”
In 1955, the federal court led by then chief justice Muhammad Munir ruled in support of the governor general. The court suspended the decision of the high court and held the governor general, and not the constituent assembly, to be the sovereign authority.
Voicing her support for the Supreme Court’s decision, LHCBA Vice President Rabbiya Bajwa emphasized that they had always opposed the military courts.
“The Senate passed a resolution regarding military courts. No unconstitutional order can be obeyed after 18th Amendment,” she said.
Rabbiya urged the courts not to give a decision that was ultra vires to the Constitution.