SC moved against provisions of military laws


A joint constitutional petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday seeking the elimination of certain provisions of military laws on the touchstones of Article 8 of the constitution, which deny the fundamental rights of a fair trial and due process of law through independent and impartial tribunals. The petition was filed by Ghulam Sarwar Bhatti and Ikhlas Ahmed, imprisoned in Central Jail, Faisalabad, and Zubair Ahmed and Mushtaq Ahmad, detained in Central Jail, Rawalpindi, through lawyer Muhammad Ikram Chaudhry, making the government respondent through the law and defence secretaries. The petitioners are civilians who were convicted for alleged attempts on the life of former president General (r) Pervez Musharraf. The petitioners challenged certain provisions of law embodied in the Pakistan Army Act of 1952, Pakistan Air Force Act of 1953 and Pakistan Navy Ordinance of 1961. They requested the court also order the government to re-examine all the legal cases from FB Ali to the present day through a larger bench. They requested that Section 133 of the Army Act of 1952 along with some other provisions be declared ultra-vires, being in negation of Article 2A, 4, 5, 9, 10, 10A and 25 of the constitution and in denial of rights under Articles 175 and 203 of the constitution, negating the role of an independent judiciary to every citizen, including the petitioners. They said section 2(1)(d) introduced through an amendment in 1967 by Amending Ordinance III of 1967 (Defence Services Law Amendment Ordinance 1967) in the Pakistan Army Act, Air Force Act 2(1)(d) and Naval Ordinance 2(3) bringing civilians within the jurisdiction of Military Tribunals was ultra-vires of the constitution and was liable to be struck down on the touchstone of Article 8 of the constitution. “When appeals under Hudood Laws in cases from Military Tribunals were available, why should the same not be available in other cases as well?” the petition questioned. It said that Martial Law psyche had added to the attitude of dictatorship and mindset of the armed forces’ hierarchy to act above the law in order to keep the people in fear.