Civilians’ trial by military illegal in peacetime: ImranArchive
ISLAMABAD: An undaunted Imran Khan on Thursday challenged the way his supporters are being treated over riots, urging the Supreme Court to declare the arrests, investigation and trial of civilians in peacetime under the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act as the negation of Constitution.
In a petition moved through senior counsel Hamid Khan, the PTI chief also urged the SC to order the formation of a judicial commission consisting of its judges to probe the horrendous and terrible incidents of May 9 and 10.
The commission should fix responsibility, besides recommending actions against persons involved in the unfortunate incidents that caused loss of dozens of lives and damage to state and private properties thus defaming Pakistan internationally.
Earlier on Monday, a similar petition was filed by Advocate Gohar Khan on behalf of PTI.
Petitions SC to hold judicial probe into ‘horrendous’, ‘terrible’ incidents of May 9, 10
Imran Khan in the fresh petition contended that the alleged imposition of an “undeclared” martial law or calling in aid of the armed forces in Punjab, Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad was unconstitutional, unlawful and without any effect and all actions taken under the same were void.
The petition has named as respondents the ministries of defence and interior, cabinet, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, Asif Zardari, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, MQM convener Khalid Maqoobl Siddiqui, caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab Mohsin Naqvi, KP’s caretaker CM Azam Khan, IGP Punjab and Islamabad, KP and commandant, Frontier Constabulary.
The petition said that arrests of PTI members under the MPO and their successive detention orders were unconstitutional and void and they were liable to be set free with immediate effect as their arrests were illegal, mala fide without jurisdiction and void being against the Constitution.
The alleged dismantling of PTI by forcing the party leaders to quit its membership and office were unconstitutional and void being against Article 17.
Availability of personnel
Quite interestingly, the petition contended, the respondents had been claiming before the SC in the matter of holding elections that law enforcement personnel could not be deployed due to security situation in the country. However, in response to protests enough personnel were found available to control the situation indefinitely, it said. The federal government, which could not call the armed forces to fulfil a constitutional responsibility and implement an SC order, decided to requisition the armed forces to quell its political rivals.
Thus, it argued, it is more than obvious to any reasonable observer that the requisition of the armed forces is mala fide and in excess of jurisdiction.
Likewise, the trial of civilians through military courts is a clear violation of the constitutional guarantees of due process and fair trial. Such trials are highly deprecated internationally and domestically and widely considered as falling short of providing a fair trial, the PTI chief contended.
In the limited circumstances in which military courts for civilians were utilised required a constitutional amendment, which has since been lapsed and was in relation to hardcore terrorists. The party supporters, now sought to be tried through military courts, are not part of any terrorist organisation and pose no threat to national security, the petition emphasised.
In light of the provisions of Articles 9, 14, 17, 19, and 23, these actions have deprived the citizens of access to their constitutional right to life, dignity, privacy, association, equality and protection of property.
The political parties that have the government’s support were allowed to hold a rally outside the SC despite the imposition of Article 245, Section 144. Thus, the petitions argued, clearly there is a discriminatory attitude in violation of Article 25 that is at play.
The petition stressed that the power to invoke Article 245 has not been rightly exercised by the cabinet which has to authorise the request made by governments of Punjab and KP in whose case their authority is questionable following the lapse of the time period allocated to the caretaker government.
Published in Dawn, May 26th, 2023