The caretaker government approached the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday , challenging its verdict of declaring the trial of civilians in military courts illegal, Aaj News reported.
In their intra-court appeals, the caretaker federal and provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan as well as the Ministry of Defence urged the SC to restore the sections of the Official Secrets Act that were declared illegal by the bench.
On October 23, a five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsen and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi and Justice Ayesha A Malik declared the trial of civilians in the military courts as null and void.
The written order said: “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.
Meanwhile, the petition submitted today by the Ministry of Defence said the pleas heard by the five-member bench were not admissible in the first place.
Sindh govt files appeal
On Thursday, the caretaker Sindh government filed an intra-court appeal (ICA) against the apex court short order dated October 23.
The Sindh government ICA said May 9, 2023 attacks appeared to be well coordinated and were meant to affect the morale of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. They were also aimed at creating a rift within the Armed Forces, thereby, undermining the command and control of the same.
The said attacks resulted in damage, destruction and grave loss to military installations and establishments. Furthermore, they resulted in injuries to military and other personnel.
The ICA contended that the assumption of “extraordinary jurisdiction” by a five-member bench is not tenable in the light of the test delineated in Article 184(3) of the constitution as well as the settled jurisprudence in relation to this area.
Former chief justice of Pakistan Jawwad S Khawaja, senior lawyer Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, and the members of civil society have filed petitions under Article 184 (3) of the constitution before the apex court, asking it to declare that the trials of the civilians arrested in light of the May 9 and 10 protests under the Army Act and Official Secrets Act are in violation of Article 25 of the constitution, until and unless legal and reasonable guidelines are framed to structure the discretion not to arbitrarily try civilians under the Army Act.
On May 9, following arrest of the PTI chief from the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC), PTI supporters thronged the streets in protest.
The protesters damaged several military and state installations, including the Corps Commander’s residence (Jinnah House) in Lahore and the gates of the military’s General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.