ISLAMABAD: The upper house of parliament on Monday passed a resolution against the Supreme Court’s verdict on civilians’ trial in the military courts, calling for halting implementation of the judgment “unless it is considered by a larger bench”.
In a unanimous verdict, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court last month declared civilians’ trials in military courts null and void as it admitted the petitions challenging the trial of civilians involved in the May 9 riots triggered by the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in a corruption case.
A five-member apex court bench — headed by Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Ayesha Malik —announced the order on October 23 on the petitions filed by the PTI chief and others.
Four judges out of the five had declared that Section 2(1)(d) of the Army Act and 59(4) (civil offences) are “ultra vires the Constitution and of no legal effect”.
“Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing the trials of civilians and accused persons, being around 103 persons […] 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,” the short order read.
The resolution, moved by Senator Dilawar Khan earlier today, said the bench that announced the recent judgment was not in unanimity as opposed to the previous benches which upheld trials of civilians under the Army Act, hence the decision is legally flawed and should not be implemented unless it is considered by a larger bench.
The resolution observed with “apprehension that the invalidation of the jurisdiction of army courts is likely to facilitate vandals and abettors of terrorism and anti-state activities”.
It said military courts have played a pivotal role in delivering justice, particularly concerning acts of terrorism, often instigated by neighbouring adversaries within Pakistan’s borders.
“The Senate of Pakistan calls upon the apex court to reconsider its decision, urging alignment with the national security paradigm and sacrifices of the martyrs in order to address the concerns raised regarding the ramifications of the judgment on the security and stability of the nation.”
The senators reiterated concerns expressed by various stakeholders regarding the recent judgment of the Supreme Court that declared “Section 2(D)(1) & 59 (4) of the Army Act unconstitutional”.
The lawmakers, in the resolution, took exception to override an Act of Parliament, which was “within the previous and exiting scheme of the constitutional and legislative framework and duly enacted under the legislative competence of parliament”.
“Prima facie an attempt has been made to rewrite the law by impinging upon the legislative authority of the Parliament,” read the resolution.
It reiterated that the trial of those accused of violence against the armed forces under the Army Act is an appropriate and proportional response in line with Pakistan’s existing constitutional framework and statutory regime.
The trial of individuals accused of anti-state vandalism and violence under the Army Act serves “as a deterrent against such acts”.
PTI Senators Fida Muhammad, Faisal Saleem and Falak Naz were present in the House at the time passing of the resolution. However, only Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) senators Mushtaq Ahmed and Raza Rabbani, respectively, opposed the resolution against the top court’s verdict.