In an interesting development, the Sindh interim government on Saturday unequivocally denied filing an appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict which had declared the trial of civilians in military courts as null and void and declared certain clauses of the Army Act as ultra vires to the Constitutional having no legal effect.
This critical development comes on the heels of appeals filed by Ministry of Defence and Federal Caretaker government against the top court verdict, as reported by Express News.
According to a clarification issued by Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Maqbool Baqar’s spokesperson, the provincial government had not filed any appeal against the apex court verdict which had declared the trial of civilians in the military court as unconstitutional.
The spokesperson said that there was unfounded impression that the provincial government had challenged the SC’s verdict. The spokesperson declared such speculations as “baseless”.
Earlier, The Express Tribune had reported that the caretaker Sindh CM had sought explanation from the Sindh advocate general about the filing of appeal without his approval. Upon this, the AG told him that the appeal was not yet filed.
Read More: SC rules against civilians’ court martial
The speculation triggered from some unconfirmed reports that the Sindh government had shared the draft of appeal with the media. According to the draft, the provincial government engaged private counsel Jahanzaib Awan to file the appeal against military courts judgement.
Meanwhile, former Sindh High Court Bar Association (SHCBA) president Salahuddin Ahmed has hoped the Sindh government would refrain from participating in the appeal process. “Trial of civilians before military courts is blatantly unconstitutional,” he added.
It should be noted that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared the trial of civilians in military courts illegal and ordered the trial of all the accused of May 9 incidents in criminal courts.
A five-judge bench of the Supreme Court on October 23 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, 2023 be tried under the ordinary criminal laws.
Read More: Caretaker government in Sindh has yet to take a decision regarding filing of the appeal
The court through the 4-1 majority also declared certain clauses of the Army Act as ultra vires to the Constitution and of no legal effect. The bench, led by Justice Ijazul Ahsan and including Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Mazahir Naqvi, and Justice Ayesha Malik heard the petitions that had challenged the trial of civilians allegedly involved in the May 9 violence in the military courts.
The petitions, questioning the legitimacy of trying civilians in military courts, were filed by former chief justice Jawwad S Khawaja, senior lawyer Barrister Aitezaz Ahsan and others. The other day, the apex court was informed that the trial of 103 people in the military custody had already begun.
The court order said that, “Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing the trials of civilians and accused persons, being around 103 persons who were identified in the list provided to the Court by the learned Attorney General for Pakistan by way of CMA No.5327 of 2023 in Constitution Petition No.24 of 2023 and all other persons who are now or may at any time be similarly placed in relation to the events arising from and out of 9th and 10th May, 2023 shall be tried by Criminal Courts of competent jurisdiction established under the ordinary and / or special law of the land in relation to such offences of which they may stand accused.”