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LAHORE: An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) on Thursday directed the Superintendent Camp Jail Lahore to hand over alleged 16 perpetrators of vandalism at Corps Commander’s House, known as Jinnah House, to a military commanding officer to prosecute them under the Army Act.

The accused included former MPA Mian Akram Usman, Ammar Zohaib, Ali Iftikhar, Ali Raza, Muhammad Arsalan, Muhammad Umair, Muhammad Rahim, Ziaul Rehman, Waqas Ali, Rais Ahmed, Faisal Arshad, Muhammad Bilal, Fahim Haider, Arzam Junaid, Muhammad Hasher Khan and Hasan Shakir.

The court passed these orders on an application of the commanding officer of 54 Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Battalion, Irfan Akhtar, seeking the custody of the suspects presently confined in Camp Jail, Lahore, in two different cases under section 549 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) and Criminal Procedure (Military Offenders) Rules 1970 for trial to the extent of charges under the provisions of the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

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The application said, “According to the initial investigation, the accused persons are prime facie found involved in the commission of offences under sections 3, 7 and 9 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923, read with Section 2(1)(d) and 59(4) of the Pakistan Army Act 1952 exclusively triable by the military court.”

It added that these people, “By committing the offences under the said laws, the accused have become subject to the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, and are exclusively liable to be inquired, investigated and triable by the military court”.

The application requested the court to hand over their custody to the Commanding Officer.

While directing the accused persons to the commanding officer, the court observed that the suspects were found guilty under sections 3, 7 and 9 of the Official Secret Act and added that the prosecution did not raise any objections to the application and forwarded the request for appropriate orders.

“In view of the request of the commanding officer, duly forwarded by the prosecution for handing over the accused persons exclusively triable by the military court, the superintendent, Camp Jail, Lahore, is directed to hand over the custody of the accused persons to the commanding officer for further proceedings in accordance with the law,” the court added.

Many PTI workers and leaders were arrested in a countrywide crackdown against the protests taken out by the PTI on May 09 after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan. The military has termed the events of May 9 a “dark chapter” and announced to try the rioters under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.

The National Assembly on May 22 passed a resolution vowing to try rioters involved in the May 9 attacks on army and state installations under existing laws, including the Army Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act. The house passed the resolution moved by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.

The National Security Committee also endorsed the decision. The PTI has also approached the Supreme Court against the federal government’s decision to prosecute civilians under the Army Act.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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