Senate passes resolution against SC verdict nullifying military trial of civilians

military trial of civilians

ISLAMABAD: In a significant development, the Senate passed a resolution on Monday against the recent decision of the Supreme Court that had declared the trial of civilians in military courts null and void.

The resolution was introduced by Senator Dilawar Khan and received majority approval from the Senate.

However, not all senators supported the resolution, with Senator Raza Rabbani and Senator Mushtaq Ahmed voicing their opposition.

 On October 24, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court passed a ruling by a majority 4-1, declaring the military trials of civilians, who were accused of involvement in attacks on army installations, as unconstitutional.

Chaired by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the bench included Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Syed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Ayesha A Malik. They unanimously underscored that cases involving individuals accused of participating in the May 9 riots would now be adjudicated before criminal courts.

The Senate resolution strongly criticized the Supreme Court’s ruling, asserting that it amounted to an endeavour to rewrite existing laws and an attempt to influence the legislative authority of Parliament.

The resolution emphasized the constitutional and legal scope of conducting trials under the Army Act against individuals accused of attacking the army installations.

“Such trials serve as a vital mechanism for preventing acts of insurrection, arson, and violence within the state,” the resolution said.

Additionally, the Senate, through the resolution, expressed its unwavering solidarity with the families of martyrs.

“These families have conveyed feelings of insecurity and betrayal following the Supreme Court’s decision, expressing concerns that the absence of military court trials may encourage terrorism. Military courts have played a pivotal role in curbing acts of terrorism within the country,” the resolution said.

The Senate also pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision failed to consider the non-arbitrariness of punishments handed down by military courts, the adoption of prevailing procedures in military court proceedings, the avenue for appealing against military court verdicts before the army chief and the president, and the possibility of filing petitions in high courts against military court sentences.

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Furthermore, the resolution stressed that the Army Act, along with its relevant clauses, adheres to the constitutional principles outlined in Article 10A of the Constitution, ensuring a transparent trial process.

In conclusion, the Senate demanded that the Supreme Court’s decision should not be implemented until a larger bench reviews it.

“The decision, which was not unanimous, has raised concerns that it may inadvertently promote acts of terrorism,” it said.

It was emphasized that individuals involved in the May 9 incident should face trials in military courts, as previously sanctioned by Parliament.

“The Senate perceives the Supreme Court’s decision as an encroachment on the authority of Parliament,” the resolution read.

During the proceedings, Senator Raza Rabbani and Senator Mushtaq Ahmad protested the Senate’s resolution, citing heavy-handed decision by the Senate.

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